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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
This is a great book of essays ranging over a huge and diverse set of topics. I have to admit that I'm a little prejudiced. I know Tony very well and have followed the writing of this book over many years. But the result is more than I ever expected. Or maybe I really knew that the result would be as fine as it is if it ever got completed. Because I have to read slowly...
Published on August 6, 2012 by Brooke Hopkins

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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very poorly written
Honestly this book is one of the most poorly written books I have ever come across. I couldn't even compare it to tabloid writing. There seems to be no coherence. It jumps around and doesn't seem to follow any particular chronology or logic in structure.
Published 16 months ago by DOCBOB


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!, August 6, 2012
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This review is from: The Fan Who Knew Too Much: Aretha Franklin, the Rise of the Soap Opera, Children of the Gospel Church, and Other Meditations (Hardcover)
This is a great book of essays ranging over a huge and diverse set of topics. I have to admit that I'm a little prejudiced. I know Tony very well and have followed the writing of this book over many years. But the result is more than I ever expected. Or maybe I really knew that the result would be as fine as it is if it ever got completed. Because I have to read slowly (I'm a quadriplegic and have to read slowly I'm only part of the way through the Aretha chapter) I found the one on homophobia in the world of gospel music and in which it plays such a central role absolutely fascinating. I only knew Marion Williams slightly. I listen to her singing practically every day so it is wonderful to read of the role she played in the gospel music tradition. I saw Black Nativity back in 1962. Arranged the concert for her at Harvard of all places. She blew everyone away and by the end the lily white audience was clapping and shouting. A memorable experience. Anyway, I would encourage anyone who loves great writing about all sorts of subjects to read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explosive Essays!, July 30, 2012
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This review is from: The Fan Who Knew Too Much: Aretha Franklin, the Rise of the Soap Opera, Children of the Gospel Church, and Other Meditations (Hardcover)
At last, Anthony Heilbut's long awaited collection of wide-ranging essays. Even topics of little initial interest to me revealed fascinating insights, controversy, humour, a unique perspective, luminous language, expansion on themes from previous books, plus courageous new exposes, much of which resonated even here in far away Australia ...now I'm only sorry it could be ages before more such delights.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Your Time Now..., October 5, 2013
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This review is from: The Fan Who Knew Too Much: Aretha Franklin, the Rise of the Soap Opera, Children of the Gospel Church, and Other Meditations (Hardcover)
Dear curious readers, here's a rare chance to get a most brutally insightful and painfully passionate work from one of America's best. "The Fan Who Knew Too Much" is almost an understatement. Anthony Heilbut wrote the definitive bible on Black Gospel music over 40 years ago! Critics, scholars, fans and most importantly the living souls he wrote of instantly agreed, "The Gospel Sound - Good News and Bad Times" was a masterpiece. Today that same author has honed his pen even sharper and painted a picture that would leave Rembrant's brush in shame. Some of his subject matter here is not for the faint of heart, but the truth is usually ugly and only a master can make sense of the myth. His forays into soap operas to drag queens, black radio and the blues are precise, honest and funny. Mr. Heilbut takes the reader deep into the Mariana Trench of Aretha Franklin's universe, from her first child at 13 to her singing for Barack Obama, it reads as written by a family member, like a Grandfather who knew her soul and what was coming before she did. Slowly the author's grasp of persecution becomes crystal, it could only come from a German Jewish kid lovingly adopted into the "Golden Era" of America's most insanely influential source of the Nile. (There's a reason it's still called the "Golden Era" ...nobody's ever topped it!) He surely did it by attending countless store-front churches to the Apollo on many, many occasions. It just so happens that Heilbut has the writing chops to do what most can't, walk the last mile of the way and tell the truth. 40s, 50s black American's soul? German Jews? Sames? (some say Gays) ....don't get more persecuted than that!

Buy this book NOW... you'll be richer than Noah. Somebody say Amen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nimble, expansive and conveyed with delightful panache, December 10, 2012
By 
Tristia (New York City) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fan Who Knew Too Much: Aretha Franklin, the Rise of the Soap Opera, Children of the Gospel Church, and Other Meditations (Hardcover)
Heilbut's work has long been distinguished by his gift for taking on polysemous topics and spinning the reader through them, gracefully and compellingly--teasing out all sorts of unexpected associations along the way. It's a pleasure to read intellectual history where the frame of reference is so unabashedly broad and the weave of ideas so rewarding to follow. In this volume, the essay "Yesterday's Heroes," which looks into the afterlife of some of the figures he explored in his great book "Exiled in Pardise," contains a tour de force of cascading cultural links that takes readers from Hannah Arendt into Marlene Dietrich and Hedy Lamarr--then back around the block to Bertolt Brecht. It's an irresistible ride and full of discoveries.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Teenage Genius, August 19, 2012
By 
Marc Silver (Chevy Chase, Maryland, US) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Fan Who Knew Too Much: Aretha Franklin, the Rise of the Soap Opera, Children of the Gospel Church, and Other Meditations (Hardcover)
Imagine a memoirist with the passion and urgency of a teenager and the sophistication of a Harvard Ph.D. in English. That's who you'll meet in "The Fan Who Knew Too Much," a brilliant collection of essays by Anthony Heilbut. He writes about the gospel music world that entranced him as a non-believing teen in the 1950s (and its gay counterculture); about the complicated life of Aretha Franklin; about soap operas; about German exiles who shaped America; about soap operas and male sopranos. He is the fan who knows too much, and he does not hesitate to reveal secrets and insights that make the book crackle with surprises. His immigrant mother said, "My poor son is always discovering areas of American culture that nobody else appreciates." She was wrong about one thing -- this book makes all those unappreciated cultural corners seem very important indeed. And as a longtime Aretha fan, I will say I have never read anything better about the Queen of Soul. R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the good Dr. Heilbut.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Electric!, July 24, 2012
This review is from: The Fan Who Knew Too Much: Aretha Franklin, the Rise of the Soap Opera, Children of the Gospel Church, and Other Meditations (Hardcover)
I just finished THE FAN and found it brilliant. The first essay fairly beams with the remarkable energy of great cultural scholarship, yoking ideas and making connections; the second is arguably the best and most informed thing I've ever read about Aretha.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great collection of essays, June 11, 2014
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This review is from: The Fan Who Knew Too Much: Aretha Franklin, the Rise of the Soap Opera, Children of the Gospel Church, and Other Meditations (Hardcover)
In the Gospel Sound, Heilbut wrote one of the seminal books on American vernacular music. He also wrote a great book on Thomas Mann. This is a great series of essays on gays in black gospel music, Aretha Franklin, German exiles in Los Angeles, the origins of soap opera and other topics. Highly recommended
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating storis, December 29, 2013
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This review is from: The Fan Who Knew Too Much: Aretha Franklin, the Rise of the Soap Opera, Children of the Gospel Church, and Other Meditations (Hardcover)
Heilbut is a master writer and story teller. This book is not only gossipy, but factual. Heilbut knows his stuff and has a Hard-to-Put-down style of writing that keeps the reader engaged.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heilbut at his best!, June 29, 2013
By 
John F Walker Jr (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fan Who Knew Too Much: Aretha Franklin, the Rise of the Soap Opera, Children of the Gospel Church, and Other Meditations (Hardcover)
In this engaging book of essays, Anthony Heilbut shares his deep understanding of many topics, including German literature, blues and gospel music, the history of the soap opera, gay black music artists, and what it means to be a child of ex-pat German Jews. His pieces sizzle with intellectual energy and passion. He is allusive and elusive - witness the title of the book. (I have a theory, but I'm still thinking about it.) He is best, in my opinion, when he is explaining the meaning of popular culture phenomena, such as Aretha Franklin's place in cultural history and the attraction of gay artists to gospel music. I loved the short essay about Joseph Roth, but then I love Joseph Roth. His piece on émigré artists in America expands on his seminal study of Thomas Mann and the ex-pat German artists who so enriched American culture in the mid-20th century. But get your seat belt on. It takes energy to read these essays. Heilbut's writing is highly personal, a literary Brownian motion, and one must pay attention. But there's a rich payoff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Majestic" say's the Huffington Post, June 18, 2013
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This review is from: The Fan Who Knew Too Much: Aretha Franklin, the Rise of the Soap Opera, Children of the Gospel Church, and Other Meditations (Hardcover)
I think this is a great book. But the Chairman of the African-American studies at Princeton University, Wallace Best say's it better. He say's, "THE FAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is one of the best collections of essays to appear in many years. It is written with depth, clarity, sensitivity, wit and lyricism. It is Heilbut at his masterful and literary best."
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