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Guitar: An American Life Paperback – July 27, 2006
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
More About the Author
I'm the director of the Professional Writing Program at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, a longtime essayist for National Public Radio and the author of all kinds of things, some of which show up elsewhere on Amazon.
The serious part of me founded Writers Without Borders, a non-profit dedicated to teaching writing skills to public health workers in the developing world, and the Endangered Alphabets project, in which I draw attention to the importance of cultural preservation by carving texts in endangered languages in beautiful pieces of wood.
The ambitious part of me created the Champlain College Publishing Initiative, a project to engage undergraduates in the process of publishing in the twenty-first century.
The active part of me plays a lot of soccer and tennis. In my spare time I wonder about potential military applications for Marmite.
Top Customer Reviews
My point is that I picked up the book as someone long experienced in guitars, already having read widely on guitars, yet found this Brookes book to add to my knowledge and become my favorite. If you're interested in the guitar, there's just no way you can go wrong buying this book. This is an author who really understands the soul of his subject.
Tim Brookes weaves a story with two threads: a step-by-step account of having his own guitar custom-built by Vermont guitar-maker Rick Davis, and the step-by-step story of how the guitar became THE instrument of American music.
If you've ever played guitar, or enjoyed listening to it in any of its many musical roles - folk, classical, blues, rock or heavy-metal weapon - you will love this book.
The writing is excellent, evocative of many memories - and very, very funny. Example from the Glossary:
"Guitar, bass: Low-end instrument, in every sense, to which a guitarist is banished when the band hires someone better than him to take over lead."
From Singing Cowboys, Hawaiian slide wizards and exploited black bluesmen to the British Invasion of the 1960s, Heavy-Metal Heroes and pimply punks; Brookes evokes them all.
But this isn't yet another book about guitar heroes - this time the hero is the guitar itself.
I'm already thinking about starting it over again...
Every other chapter concerns the author's experience in ordering his first custom guitar. Those of you who play and cherish new instruments should enjoy and relate to Tim's journey.
The remaining chapters present Tim's unique view of the guitar's American cultural history, in ALL its permutations. Mr. Brookes fearlessly approaches this topic from a fresh, "outsider's" perspective. With it, he hits upon a new simple, obvious (and necessary) explanation of a guitar: "Not a single instrument but a syndrome, a collection of symptoms from a list" (then giving some examples from this list).
What all this boils down to is, in effect, two short "novels" - independent stories presented with so much new insight and humor that I was saddened when each ended.
This is really two books woven together. The first is a history of the guitar... how it developed in American music, and how it became the icon it is today. The second story is about how the author lost a beloved guitar to baggage handlers, and had a new instrument handmade for him - and documented that process along the way. Each story is compelling in its own right, but together, they're more effective than either one would0 be separately. The historical part is imbued with a sense of the author's personal love for guitars, and the personal story is given a sense of academic discipline and rigor.
If you love guitars, and are interested in how they are made and how they became so widespread and important, read this book!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very good read. Great information on how an acoustic guitar is built as well as the author's parallel back story storyPublished 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
Tim Brookes tells an engaging story of waiting and watching each step as his own guitar is made. His historical view of the guitar in general is an added bonus in the writer's... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Banjo Bob
Bought this as a gift, having read the hardback about ten years ago. Reminded me of John Hersey's The War Lover in organization. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Poor Bob
What a relaxing an enjoyable read, combining a fun way to look at the development of the guitar as well as an insider's look at "how it's made!"Published 9 months ago by Phillip E. Smart
This book alternates chapters of guitar history with chapters about the author and the luthier who made a guitar specifically for him. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jack M. Walter
Fascinating story of having a custom guitar built. The author uses that stepping stone to cover a broad history of guitars and guitar players. Read morePublished 13 months ago by C. S. Morse
The writing is very unorganized, with too few chapters and confusing trail of thought. 1 2 3 4 5 6Published 13 months ago by B. E.
I'm a huge history guy and researcher by nature so this book more than entertained me. I had no idea it would be so well written. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Ivaduck