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The Hardest Working Man: How James Brown Saved the Soul of America Hardcover – November 13, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As Boston Globe columnist Sullivan points out in this book, Brown's personal life (sexual exploits, spousal abuse, jail time) obscured a public persona that encouraged African-American children not to drop out of school and demanded that his African-American brothers and sisters respect themselves rather than putting themselves down. At the center of the book is Brown's concert at the Boston Garden on the night following Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968. Because of rising tensions among African-Americans in the city, Mayor Kevin White's first impulse was to cancel Brown's concert. Yet realizing that ticket holders might be just as angry over a canceled concert as they might be impassioned to riot by a raucous one, he and Brown worked out a deal to allow the concert to go on. Once on stage, Brown opened with his by-then famous Please, Please, Please, which became that night a rallying cry for his audience to respect themselves and others, just as King had done. Sullivan only briefly traces Brown's rise and fall as a musician from his early days in Edgefield, S.C., to his death in Augusta, Ga., as he recovers a facet of James Brown as a political and racial leader. (Nov.)
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From Booklist

Sullivan examines James Brown’s role in saving Boston from the fires and riots that swept the U.S. after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Booked into Boston Garden the night of April 5, 1968, Brown agreed to put the show on live local TV to give would-be rioters reason to stay home. Garden management wanted to cancel, doubtless to avoid rioting in the Garden, but Brown and Boston’s first black city councillor interceded with Mayor Kevin White to prevent cancellation. Sullivan goes further in crediting Brown for keeping the peace than others have, and so doing, he also examines the Godfather of Soul’s life and career in the context of the Civil Rights movement. By 1968, Brown had become “Soul Brother Number One,” and his presence was “a major event, a ritual.” At the same time, the cultural gulf between races was was so wide that the mayor at first “thought the headliner in question was Jim Brown”—the NFL running back. A good record of a pivotal event and a serviceable Brown bio, to boot. --Mike Tribby
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham (November 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592403905
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592403905
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,629,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

www.jamessullivanauthor.com
Twitter: @sullivanjames

My books start with an idea -- a person, place or thing -- that reveals something about the bigger picture. I'm drawn to the unusual and the extraordinary, especially when they spring unexpectedly from the commonplace. I've lived in Queens and Brooklyn, New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston. I'm a journalist (Boston Globe, RollingStone.com) and father of three boys. I'm also a baseball fanatic, music nerd, Chuck Taylors connoisseur and a dog lover.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sultana Almansour on February 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
One of the advantages of traveling around the world on a continuous basis is that sooner or lter one meets many of thoe persons predestined for global greatness. Such was my first and the many subsequent meetings with James Brown aka " The Godfather of Soul ! "

My first meting with him was occasioned by the most dominant record and musical promoter in the San Francisco By Area, Raymond Dobard. Mr. Dobard was one of my first legal business clients after graduating from the University School of Law at Berkeley in the early 60's. In between practicing law, moderating a popular radio and television show and becoming a founding member of a group of African American professionals, college and high school students and lay men and women who were strongly united by our colletive commitment to impact our immediate communities, if not the nation, through the internalization o our collectie mantra: " Unity, Self Help, Education, and Dignity. " ( See " Vital Speeches " July 1, 1964.

After Ray Dobard bought James Brown to be interviewed on my radio show, " The Matchline ", I decided to engage James in an in depth discussion about the sustainable future of the Black Race in America. Before long I was reasonable impressed with his insights, committment to " Unity, Self Help, Education, and Diginity ", obsession to faithfully contribute to the constructive uplit of the race, as well as his committment to use his hypnotic musical talents to promote constructive change through his soulful, expresive music. Although, from my weekly media shows, I had come to to know many well known African American nusicians and entertainers,James was a special work in progress with unlimited committment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Prince Ali Aljabbar on February 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
At last it has been told: the improbable rise from rags to riches of the Godfather of Soul aka Soul Brother #1, Mr. James Brown.

Thanks to his proven investigative, journalistic skills, accomplished author, James Sullivan, resurrected the soul of James Brown in his latest book "The Hardest Working Man--How James Brown Saved the Soul of America". In the process, Sullivan assured us that Brown still lives, and more importantly, will never die!

While tracing the daunting stubborn hurdles, James Brown had to mount early in his life just to avoid starvation. The author traces and shares how James gradually constructed an inner strength built on the premise: if I can conceive, and believe, I can achieve! And achieve he did!

From shining shoes for pennies both in Georgia and South Carolina, to stopping race riots in Boston after Dr. King's infamous assassination, Brown refused to let hope die. Quite the opposite, through enormous determination, self-reliance, profound creativity, and unrelenting focus, James Brown despite the lack of a High School education, braved pangs of hunger, vicious jealously, and excuse-making to will himself to sustainable world wide importance. Before his demise, his fame, fortune and success rose to the level that "Look Magazine" placed the photo of the legendary James Brown on its cover with a bold challenge to the American public to find any other African American more important than Soul Brother #1.

For more details of the intricate and cosmopolitan Living Legend, "The Hardest Working Man--How James Brown Saved the Soul of America" is a must read.

By Sultana AlMansour
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Format: Kindle Edition
On the night after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, mass race riots occurred in virtually every middle to large sized city in America. But not Boston. Because that night, James Brown performed a concert at the Boston Garden and was broadcast live to the surrounding area. He was electric and wholly captivating. He pled with the crowd for restraint, and they listened. Soul Brother No. 1 saved the soul of Boston that night, and many other souls who watched him on TV too.

This book isn't a definitive biography of the Godfather, but it does sketch out Brown's background, his early rise to stardom, and the climate of racial tension in the 1960's. It's a quick and enjoyable read. I might have preferred more detail, but I have no real complaints.
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By K. Dietz on December 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great book about the Hardest Working Man in show business. If you are into JB and haven't read any of his other biographies or autobiography, this is a must read for the story of his humble beginnings and inexorable climb to the top of the soul music mountain. For musicians, the book is great in that it details the development of the JB sound and his various bands over the years. I saw the JB & Famous Flames review in 1968 on Long Island - amazing. And about 30 yrs later in Aberdeen, Scotland - different band, but still amazing - there was never anybody like JB and probably never will be. If you were in or around the Boston area when MLK was shot, you also should read this book.
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