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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on July 9, 2000
My Grandmother was part of an all-girl band during this era, and still plays strong today. She was contacted to participate in the making of this book and thus my interest in reading the work was peaked. However, I soon realized there is so much more the book offers. Starting with a detailed historical description of the way African-American women were treated, the book moves on to cover a wide variety of trials women went through to get their music heard. I highly recommend the book for anyone interested in Jazz, in history, in women's study, or in just understanding the power of music, of voice, and of struggle throughout the ages of this society.
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on August 7, 2000
This book is a fascinating and unique book on jazz, gender, and race. Thoroughly researched and beautifully written, Swing Shift documents the central position black and white women musicians played in the Swing Era and World War II. Sherrie Tucker combines oral histories with archival research, producing a stunning record of what history books can be and what jazz women are. Most amazing is the author's analysis of race and racism as structuring aspects of the music industry, jazz history, and contemporary accounts of the 1940s. Swing Shift is the most accomplished book on women, music, and race that I have ever read; it is a gift as remarkable, talented, honest, funny, and captivating as the women musicians Dr. Tucker researched and loves.
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on June 15, 2015
The introduction of the book is turgid and difficult to read; seems as though it's targeted to other academics. However, as she tells the story of the particular bands, it picks up speed and becomes very readable. Some of the rhetorical points are repeated a few times times too many for my taste, but it is an interesting story that is not much told. I recommend the book to anyone who wants to dig a little deeper into jazz history than the usual male-centric approach.
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on April 1, 2015
Very interesting book on a largely overlooked subject - women in jazz. It didn't occur to me how under-reported this subject was until I heard an interview of one of the writers of a chapter from one of Sherrie Tucker's other books, Big Ears.
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on November 19, 2014
I generally appreciate Sherrie Tucker's ambitious topic, and the great efforts undertaken to obtain quality, first-hand narratives. As two others have also noted, though, she greatly undermines the effect by repeatedly framing their narratives - at various times before, during, and after the narratives themselves - seemingly for the sake, as another commenter notes, to enlighten us moderns on the thought processes, blinds spots, and jargon of that strange species, 1940s humans.

These "framings" are often considerably longer than the narratives themselves, and distract a great deal from the narratives. While I appreciate that academic writing marches to the beat of its own, peculiar drummer, the book nevertheless would have been both more readable and interesting had Ms. Tucker let the women who are actually the subject of the book do the hard work of enlightening us as to what their experience might mean.

The book is not thought-provoking: Ms. Tucker's gone to the trouble of doing the thinking for you.
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on May 4, 2014
These girl bands were great, and Sherrie Tucker's publication gives great information about them ! I would say this is valuable for people interested in music as well as for those interested in the World War II era !
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on January 14, 2013
This book discusses the women who performed in big bands during the 1940's, and explains the changes that were taking place in the roles of women. The author interviewed over 100 women who shared their experiences during this time period. The book, written by a Womens Studies and American Studies Professor, explores race, gender, and class and shows how something like playing in bands created an important chapter in the history of our country.
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VINE VOICEon September 25, 2009
This book is a very scholarly approach to the era of the all-female swing bands during WWII. As the book is careful to point out, the all-female bands were already thriving and in existence before WWII, but with the soldiers going off to war they became a sort of musical version of Rosie the Riveter. The wealth of information on the female bands contained in this book is beyond compare. I saw two major drawbacks in the book, however. First of all, one gets the impression that this is the first time the author has ever encountered people from a previous era and from a previous mindset. She seems quite shocked that they prefer to be called All-Girl bands rather that her more politically correct, All-Woman bands. In fact, she goes into great detail for several paragraphs about how it must be reflective of a different mindset and so forth. Secondly, due to her prolonged belaboring anytime there is a quote or comment or hint of something that she doesn't consider in accord with modern thought, the voices and experiences of the women themselves are not brought to the forefront. They all sound like women with fascinating stories to tell. But she doesn't let them tell it. What the author does is dwell on sociological issues, racial issues, feminism issues, and other academic type issues rather than tell the story of the All-Girl bands. I found this to be a prime example of why so often academic works are an unbelievably tedious read. I would love it if a more popular version of this book were to be issued.
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on September 2, 2013
This is a great book about the women who traveled and endured so much adversity so they could make beautiful music for others to enjoy. So few books cover the women professional musicians and their lives in that hard life.
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on November 10, 2010
Sherrie Tucker does something here that is very unique yet timely. After conducting years of interviews and research she crafts this wonderful overview of "All Girl" Bands . It is both academic and entertaining. In addition, she looks at these bands at the intersection of race, class and gender giving the reader new insights into the era. Somethings should be evaluated in the moment and others need distance and time to process. Lovely -love this work!
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