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Runaway Dream: Born to Run and Bruce Springsteen's American Vision Hardcover – September 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nearly 35 years on, Bruce Springsteen's album Born to Run shows little sign of flagging popularity; National Public Radio has hailed the 1975 album, a poetic explosion of frustration and freedom, among the 100 most important musical works of the 20th century, and it has made it into the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry. Though he admits that he wants the album played at his funeral, author and American studies professor Masur (The Soiling of Old Glory) remains surprisingly objective while examining the iconic album and its effect on the New Jersey troubadour and American culture at large. Only one chapter is dedicated to the actual making of Born to Run; the rest details Springsteen's career before and after its release, critical reaction, and the album's long-smoldering influence. Although Springsteen was not interviewed, E Street Band bassist Garry Tallent provides insight into recording sessions, and Masur quotes extensively from published sources and Springsteen's own in-concert patter. Masur's knowledge runs deep, and his work often reads like a lengthy dissertation on the Boss's lyrics, key progressions, imagery and themes; Bruce's many hard-core fans will find this an immersive, thoughtful treat.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“With Runaway Dream: Born to Run and Bruce Springsteen's American Vision, Masur again focuses on a single work of art and its cultural context, and the book shares many strengths with his previous one. The prose remains direct and uncluttered, the research extensive.” ―Barnes and Noble Review

“A cultural historian with a penchant for choosing specific subjects (the year 1831, baseball's first world series, a famous photograph from the Boston busing crisis of the 1970s) and situating them against the larger background of their times, [Lou Masur] combines scholarly rigor and journalistic accessibility. These talents are vividly on display in Runaway Dream, which uses Born to Run as a synecdoche for understanding Springsteen's career as a whole.” ―Jim Cullen, History News Network

“In Runaway Dream, Louis P. Masur, a professor at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., dissects the making of the album and the legacy it has left behind with the meticulous eye of a scholar and the unabashed affection of a true fan.” ―Associated Press

“Masur, as his title suggests, has ‘an affinity for the American themes that permeate [Springsteen's] work,' and his book is essentially an extended cultural essay about those.” ―Chicago Tribune

“Well-thought-out … After briefly examining Springsteen's early life and work, Masur details the painstaking making of the album, analyzes each song's lyrics and musicality, discusses the album's reception and what he refers to as its spatial and temporal ‘geography,' and relates its impact and continued resonance.” ―Library Journal

“Students of popular music who know little if anything about Springsteen will find much to appreciate here, as will also, of course, Springsteen's many fans.” ―Booklist (starred)

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Press (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596916923
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596916920
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,022,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By estreeter4life on November 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mazur is both a fan and a scholar, and both come through loud and clear in this new examination of arguably the quintessential Springsteen LP, Born to Run. There is a little redundancy here about Bruce's life, band and background in the earlier years, but it's necessary context if, unlike me, you have not already read dozens of books about Springsteen and the E Street Band.

This could not have been published at a more perfect moment in time; for the late summer and into the fall of 2009 the band is touring and playing individual LPs from beginning to end, and Born to Run is the one most frequently played. On a drive to Chicago to see a show that featured BTR, I read the individual sections aloud in the car and we followed it up by listening to the song we just read/heard about. Although I have probably listened to this album, cassette, CD, DVD, and MP3 iterations of this disc thousands of times, I learned both about the context of the lyrics of the songs and the instrumentation and composition. The section about the locations that populate the album was also extremely informative to anyone not born in the shadow of Freehold, NJ.

It's a real treat to read something written by both a passionate fan and a dedicated scholar. If you are lucky enough to have tickets to a show this fall that will feature Born to Run, buy this book immediately. If fate does not deal you that lovely circumstance, buy the book, pull out whatever format you have this music on, and take the time to go through each song after you have read the section on the lyrics and the music. I would be dumbfounded if you didn't learn something new--and I have been to +-150 Springsteen concerts and read everything I could get my hands on, and this was enlightening in many ways. In short, a real treat.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Charles J. Gessner on September 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you're purchasing this book, it's because your already probably a Springsteen fan. The info presented about the album "Born to Run" is interesting, though you leave the book feeling there could have been more. Springsteen is quoted, but these quotes are items that were presented from the past, nothing new. The book (in my opinion) could have been better had there been some "new" info/quotes from people involved with the making of the album. The role of Clarence Clemons on Born to Run is huge -- so why not have some info from him about his role in the making of this masterpiece?? What about other band members? What were their feelings??

The other problem I had with the book is that about midstream, it moves away from Born to Run and tries to cram in more facts about Springsteen and his professional life after Born to Run. Is the book a reflection of Born to Run, or, a biography of Springsteen? The author can't seem to make up his mind. The book also feels rushed when it makes this transition -- probably because you can't cover that much ground in less than 200 pages.

With that said, you would think I didn't like the book; but I did. As a fan of Springsteen, this book was a good, quick read; and the author's love of the subject clearly shines through. In the end, there is a passage about the author feeling renewed after seeing Springsteen in concert and being able to now reconnect with the world. I couldn't agree more.

If you love Springsteen, this book will renew that feeling. If you're looking for more than that, I don't think you'll find it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christine Young on October 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very interesting book by an academic (who happens to be a huge Springsteen fan) on the significance of Born to Run to Springsteen's career and its expression of American culture.
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