What follows is a review of the book, “American Folk Music & Left-Wing Politics 1927-1957″ by Richard A. Reuss and completed after his death by JoAnne C. Reuss. This is an awesome book, the best book on the subject. I discovered it while doing research in my college library, I found it in its pre-book form, as Richard Reuss’ doctoral dissertation (unindexed!) and then to my delight discovered it had recently been published. This book is remarkably lucid, the stuff he says makes sense (as opposed to many other books that try to deal with music and politics, which do not make sense). Reuss was a gifted researcher and in the course of reading the book you realize that he has uncovered and written down the real interactions that characterize the relationship between the musicians in the scene and political events that played out in more or less the Popular Front period surrounding World War ll. This was certainly a seminal time, making possible the careers of many great artists including Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Leadbelly (as well Henrietta Yurchenco). This excellent book review was done by Mat Callahan, author of another great book on music and politics called, “The Trouble with Music.”
– Eli Smith (Host- Down Home Radio, etc.)
American Folk Music & Left-Wing Politics: 1927-1957
Richard A. Reuss with JoAnne C. Reuss
Richard A. Reuss came to folklore studies by way of his interest in music. He led a folksinging group while a counselor at summer camp and as an undergraduate student at Ohio Wesleyan University. He earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1971. He taught at Wayne State University in Detroit, broadening his studies to labor lore and music.