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The American Book of the Dead Paperback – December 4, 1997

4.3 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

What's the meaning of "The Eleven"? Who were the Warlocks? What's the connection between Harry Belafonte and the Dead? The answers to these and other questions can be found here, amid profiles of the Dead's members and dozens of the artists whose work influenced them; exhaustive analyses of individual songs; explanations of countercultural phenomena (Ken Kesey's Acid Tests); and scads of tie-dyed trivia. -- Entertainment Weekly

From the Back Cover

The American Book of the Dead is the definitive encyclopedic guidebook to the long, strange cultural trip taken by one of America's most innovative, awe-inspiring rock groups and its fans. With rare, never-before-published photographs and over 750 entries, this kaleidoscopic look at the Grateful Dead takes you on a journey to the crossroads of music and history to see how one band changed the American musical tradition. Deadheads, and indeed anyone who loves rock and roll, will enjoy and use this ultimate celebration of the Grateful Dead - their roots, their music, their enduring influence on musicians, songwriters, and performers.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Original ed. edition (December 4, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684814021
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684814025
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #758,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I love this book. I got it about a year ago and I read it cover to cover over the course of a month. It makes great bathroom reading! The thing that's really great about this book is that you get the story behind all of the songs. Reading the backstory for all of my favorite tunes gave them a new life and made me want to go listen to them again -- to see them in that new light. Another interesting aspect is that even the covers are given some backstory -- including extensive information about the orig. artists. Then there's the in-depth information about the Dead themselves. Want to know more about Tom Constantine? It's there. Interested in Bruce Hornsby's connection to the Dead? It's there too. Overall I love having this book in my collection. It's a great reference book as well as a damn good read. I strongly recommend this to all Dead-heads!
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Format: Paperback
This is basically just an encyclopedia of Dead information. No setlists, but a description of every song the dead played, along with recommended versions of each song are included. Signifigant personalities are also listed with appropriate descriptions. The roots of the dead are also discussed, and there is a fair amount of quotes from various band members. It is a good book, but the encyclopedia format gives no continuity, so toilet style, quick reading is the best way to enjoy this book. But hey, i got this book for 4.99 on the clearance table of a book store. I wouldn't pay 14 bills for it (i'm cheap), but it is nevertheless a great source of info about the Dead.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a reference book on many things Dead related. Mostly songs, artists, and personalities of the scene. It is thorough and reads like a professional reference book, giving very detailed descriptions and recommendations for listening on each of the songs that it lists. I only wish that the author had spent more time on the "staple" songs, and not just on the rarities. It's strange not to find a write up on "Loser", but to find articles on "Green, Green, Grass of Home" (for instance). Anyway, it's a really well done book and deserves space on a Deadhead's bookshelf.
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By scott on December 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
It is a fun book lots of info and great facts plus many new photos. If you are a diehard deadhead or a novice you shoud learn lots of new stuff. I liked the entrys for each song, where it came from,who also did a cover,best live version.An encyclopedia for all fans of the dead or fans of the music it came from.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wonderful, Spectacular, Required....just check out my other reviews for Relix/The Book, Goin' Down the Road, Skeleton Key, and whatever else GDP or Rhino has released that has me headed into penury.

As either Voltaire or Michael Binkley once said, "There is a certain inevitable futility in indecision". Soooo, ya know ya want it, ya know yer gonna get it, so just buy it already!

Pizeace!
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Format: Paperback
Do you listen to Dead tapes? Will they play Dark Star at your funeral? This book belongs in your home. It is first and foremost a reference work, but it is lovingly compiled and utilizes more other sources than most (if not all) the other Dead tomes out there. You know most of what's out there - prose histories summarizing interview material. Sure, this baby has that, and plenty of it. But what sets this book apart is its referential essence. Hey, it's alphabetical. So you want to find out who has recorded "How long blues?" Look it up! Trager lists like the most prominent performers of the tune, plus the best (known) Dead performances of said tune (his best list I guess-but always fun to compare!). They go into details of a song's history and interpretations, give you the rundown on the writer and original performers, and link it up with the Dead. It's great. Hey, if you are looking for a reference on blues musicians and don't care about the Dead, this book is for you too! I especially like the fact that Trager has those obscure and rarely performed tunes in here. 'Nuff said. Check it out!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I can look up just about anything related to Grateful Dead and get insightful information. I have learned some very interesting details about many of my favorite songs, for example, explanations about how they came up with some of the unusual time signatures. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
I purchased this book at a Landmark store in Madras in '98. If you are in to the Grateful Dead and wish to know more about them and their songs, this book is for you. It is a book that I cannot fault after having read it cover to cover a few hundred times! Like another reviewer has noted, a fabulous book to have alongside an airy, brightly lit toilet. If you have your iPod on at full blast, all the better!
A.Ashokan aashokan@gmail.com 02.11.2012
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