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February, 1940: After a decade of worldwide depression, World War II had begun in Europe and Asia. With Germany on the march, and Japan at war with China, the global crisis was in a crescendo. America’s top songwriter, Irving Berlin, had captured the nation’s mood a little more than a year before with his patriotic hymn, “God Bless America.” Woody Guthrie was having none of February, 1940: After a decade of worldwide depression, World War II had begun in Europe and Asia. With Germany on the march, and Japan at war with China, the global crisis was in a crescendo. America’s top songwriter, Irving Berlin, had captured the nation’s mood a little more than a year before with his patriotic hymn, “God Bless America.” Woody Guthrie was having none of it. Near-starving and penniless, he was traveling from Texas to New York to make a new start. As he eked his way across the country by bus and by thumb, he couldn’t avoid Berlin’s song. Some people say that it was when he was freezing by the side of the road in a Pennsylvania snowstorm that he conceived of a rebuttal. It would encompass the dark realities of the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, and it would begin with the lines: “This land is your land, this land is my land….” In This Land That I Love, John Shaw writes the dual biography of these beloved American songs. Examining the lives of their authors, he finds that Guthrie and Berlin had more in common than either could have guessed. Though Guthrie’s image was defined by train-hopping, Irving Berlin had also risen from homelessness, having worked his way up from the streets of New York. At the same time, This Land That I Love sheds new light on our patriotic musical heritage, from “Yankee Doodle” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” to Martin Luther King’s recitation from “My Country ’Tis of Thee” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963. Delving into the deeper history of war songs, minstrelsy, ragtime, country music, folk music, and African American spirituals, Shaw unearths a rich vein of half-forgotten musical traditions. With the aid of archival research, he uncovers new details about the songs, including a never-before-printed verse for “This Land Is Your Land.” The result is a fascinating narrative that refracts and re-envisions America’s tumultuous history through the prism of two unforgettable anthems.


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February, 1940: After a decade of worldwide depression, World War II had begun in Europe and Asia. With Germany on the march, and Japan at war with China, the global crisis was in a crescendo. America’s top songwriter, Irving Berlin, had captured the nation’s mood a little more than a year before with his patriotic hymn, “God Bless America.” Woody Guthrie was having none of February, 1940: After a decade of worldwide depression, World War II had begun in Europe and Asia. With Germany on the march, and Japan at war with China, the global crisis was in a crescendo. America’s top songwriter, Irving Berlin, had captured the nation’s mood a little more than a year before with his patriotic hymn, “God Bless America.” Woody Guthrie was having none of it. Near-starving and penniless, he was traveling from Texas to New York to make a new start. As he eked his way across the country by bus and by thumb, he couldn’t avoid Berlin’s song. Some people say that it was when he was freezing by the side of the road in a Pennsylvania snowstorm that he conceived of a rebuttal. It would encompass the dark realities of the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, and it would begin with the lines: “This land is your land, this land is my land….” In This Land That I Love, John Shaw writes the dual biography of these beloved American songs. Examining the lives of their authors, he finds that Guthrie and Berlin had more in common than either could have guessed. Though Guthrie’s image was defined by train-hopping, Irving Berlin had also risen from homelessness, having worked his way up from the streets of New York. At the same time, This Land That I Love sheds new light on our patriotic musical heritage, from “Yankee Doodle” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” to Martin Luther King’s recitation from “My Country ’Tis of Thee” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963. Delving into the deeper history of war songs, minstrelsy, ragtime, country music, folk music, and African American spirituals, Shaw unearths a rich vein of half-forgotten musical traditions. With the aid of archival research, he uncovers new details about the songs, including a never-before-printed verse for “This Land Is Your Land.” The result is a fascinating narrative that refracts and re-envisions America’s tumultuous history through the prism of two unforgettable anthems.

30 review for This Land that I Love: Irving Berlin, Woody Guthrie, and the Story of Two American Anthems

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    I enjoyed this book a great deal. While I have no doubt that music nerds will like this book, it's definitely not just a book for music nerds. The prose is inviting and the stories are compelling. I also learned lots of new stuff. For example, I knew very little about the life and times of Irving Berlin. What an interesting story so far. Who knew Berlin spent his adolescence as a Street Arab? As someone with Jewish roots, whose ancestors also came to the the US at the end of the 19th century fro I enjoyed this book a great deal. While I have no doubt that music nerds will like this book, it's definitely not just a book for music nerds. The prose is inviting and the stories are compelling. I also learned lots of new stuff. For example, I knew very little about the life and times of Irving Berlin. What an interesting story so far. Who knew Berlin spent his adolescence as a Street Arab? As someone with Jewish roots, whose ancestors also came to the the US at the end of the 19th century from eastern Europe, the Berlin story is a nice window into how one man navigated through that experience and triumphed over adversity. It was also useful to read an account of the early 20th century music business, as it provides some additional historical perspective on the current state of the music industry. Bottom line: This book is worthy of your attention. Anyone with even a passing interest in American history should find it a quick, engaging, enjoyable, and worthwhile read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael Tarpinian

    Cool interplay between Irving Berlin and Woody Guthrie and their keystone National Anthems. American the Beautiful on the one hand and Guthrie's answer (initially satirical and in some versions socialist) This Land Is Your Land. Berlin's song is reverent and Gurhrie's is secular and with the personification of the wind—pagan. the first is lovely and easier to sing than our official National Anthem and the other is more fun to sing. A lot went into the history of both men and the history of Americ Cool interplay between Irving Berlin and Woody Guthrie and their keystone National Anthems. American the Beautiful on the one hand and Guthrie's answer (initially satirical and in some versions socialist) This Land Is Your Land. Berlin's song is reverent and Gurhrie's is secular and with the personification of the wind—pagan. the first is lovely and easier to sing than our official National Anthem and the other is more fun to sing. A lot went into the history of both men and the history of American Anthems specifically and pop music history in specific. Black face, so called Heb songs and other popular music used vernacular and stereotypes in their lyrics and music. Both men participated insome of these snide song types. On the other hand both did a lot to bring the races and cultures together. Berlin was a civilian commander of a military company and led the first fully integrated command in the US military.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    This is a fantastic and very well researched book. It would be interesting for music lovers, as well as those interested in Jewish or African-American culture, American history and more. It's dense in content so takes some time to get through but is well worth the effort. As I read it I keep thinking of all the people I would recommend it to. This is a fantastic and very well researched book. It would be interesting for music lovers, as well as those interested in Jewish or African-American culture, American history and more. It's dense in content so takes some time to get through but is well worth the effort. As I read it I keep thinking of all the people I would recommend it to.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Drawing connections between two historical figures, especially two who never met, is a dubious act on the part of any writer, regardless of how similar their lives or legacies may be. Earlier this year, Lynne Olson attempted to conflate a relationship between Charles Lindbergh and Franklin Roosevelt in order to personify the United States' conflicting emotions over isolationism; instead, she managed to write a book that was interesting in its own right but one that ultimately failed to link the Drawing connections between two historical figures, especially two who never met, is a dubious act on the part of any writer, regardless of how similar their lives or legacies may be. Earlier this year, Lynne Olson attempted to conflate a relationship between Charles Lindbergh and Franklin Roosevelt in order to personify the United States' conflicting emotions over isolationism; instead, she managed to write a book that was interesting in its own right but one that ultimately failed to link the primary men to each other in any substantial way. Similarly, the last few years have seen books hoping to contrast Truman and Eisenhower, Nixon and Eisenhower, Henry Clay and Stephen Douglas, Douglas and Lincoln, Lincoln and Frederick Douglas, James Madison and James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, and Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, not to mention James F. Simon's trilogy on conflicts between presidents and chief justices. And while these latter examples are much more understandable, given that the subjects actually knew one another on a professional if not personal level, the fact remains that contrasting two historical figures for the sake of a common narrative--one that needs to be painted into history rather than wrung from it--is disingenuous. So ridiculous has this trend become that book subtitles have begun to follow the same tedious format, almost like a publishing-house MadLibs: an interesting, attention-getting title is followed by "[Person 1], [Person 2], and [Conflated Historical Narrative]." Simply choosing two important figures who were alive at the same time and tagging on a connection that is knee-deep in lofty sociological importance, one that is both impressive in its surface weight but vague and unmeasurable beneath the surface, seems now like the go-to formula for historical nonfiction, as evidenced by some of the lengthy, comma-heavy titles that have appeared in the last few years.* One of these is John Shaw's This Land That I Love, which is subtitled "Irving Berlin, Woody Guthrie, and the Story of Two American Anthems." On the surface, Shaw's premise seems perfectly fine: Berlin and Guthrie were two musicians who were alive at the same time--though one man would end up living almost twice as long as the other--and wrote music that captured specific eras and moods. The two anthems of Shaw's subtitle--"God Bless America" by Berlin, "This Land is Your Land" by Guthrie--have there roots in dark moments in American history, written to celebrate the United States amid the horrors of war, the Dust Bowl, and the Great Depression. Beneath the surface, however, we begin to find flaws in Shaw's arrangement. It doesn't seem to matter that Berlin and Guthrie never met, or that there's very little evidence that either man even knew of each other's existences other than a parody of "God Bless America" written by Guthrie himself. Suddenly, these seemingly compatible historical figures seem somewhat less complementary. Even more, the entire narrative Shaw is attempting to construct--that Berlin and Guthrie, the authors of two unofficial American anthems, were more similar than their styles and music let on--is never actually followed through. Much of Shaw's book is devoted to elements of music history that are only loosely connected to Berlin and Guthrie's music: blackface, ragtime, minstrel shows, Teddy Roosevelt, tenement poverty in New York City, the Civil War, the error of "folk" music, Marian Anderson, Tin Pan Alley, and so on. Sure, each is important in its own way to understanding the men, their lives, their inspirations, and the styles of music they embraced throughout their lives...but in that case, the focus should be primarily on the men rather than historical divergences. The title and subtitle tell us this is the story of two men and two songs; Shaw seems intent on writing about anything besides those topics. Furthermore, Shaw's book takes this disturbing trend even further than his compatriots by introducing himself into the narrative. On the surface, this doesn't seem like much of a problem; after all, he's the writer and researcher, so it's only natural that he will sometimes find himself dead-center in the action, especially when he's uncovering previously unpublished lyrics to the subjects' most famous songs. (A little personal reflection at this point would be understandable, even forgivable, if also a little pointless.) However, Shaw crosses a sacred boundary in historical writing by introducing his own opinion into the narrative, almost as though it were evidence of something much greater. Discussing the musical lineage of "The Star-Spangled Banner," Shaw begins a new paragraph by saying, I love "The Star-Spangled Banner." I share the eighteenth century's assessment of John Stafford Smith's melody--it's great. The story behind Key's lyric is stirring, and I love its celebration of freedom and courage. Being a fan of Robert Herrick, rock and roll, and Woody Guthrie's party songs, I enjoy the celebration of sex and alcohol in the Anacreontic Society's theme song as well. (Shaw 77) Shaw's fanboy gushing is beyond embarrassing, and it contributes not at all to our understanding of the two men, their music, or their connections to one another. Had this been the only instance of Shaw breaking away from his responsibilities as a historian--and an impartial one, as writing such as this requires--it could have been overlooked, but This Land That I Love is littered with instances like these in which Shaw cannot restrain himself from letting his readers know just how important all of this is to him. Which is great--a writer should love what they're writing about, and Shaw clearly--obviously--does. But he loves it in the same way an annoying cinephile loves movies, a bibliophile loves books, or a patron loves a specific artist and their work: a passion that makes him or her feel instantly superior. Shaw cannot keep himself from telling us just how much better he is than us, simply because he knows "The Star-Spangled Banner" better than we do, that it means more to him than it does to us. It's an attitude that gives him permission to interrupt history with his own meaningless interjections and asides, as though this retelling of history will be made all the better with his additions. In the process, however, we see that his book is little more than a sketch. There is very little story here, very few ideas that haven't been presented elsewhere, and anything new--a new lyric, a revision, an interpretation--is nothing more than scaffolding for a house that will never be built. *A small sampling: Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election that Brought on the Civil War; America's Great Debate: Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas, and the Compromise That Preserved the Union; Two Americans: Truman, Eisenhower, and a Dangerous World; What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States; Founding Rivals: Madison vs. Monroe, The Bill of Rights, and The Election that Saved a Nation; The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism; and so on, on and on. Not to bemoan historical connections--after all, history is little more than millions of these intersections of people, placed, events, ideas, and so on--but this sort of thing seems incredibly lazy on the part of book editors and publishers. This review was originally published at There Will Be Books Galore.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sally Sugarman

    This account of the writing of two songs celebrating the United States is informative and insightful. Although the two men had drastically different backgrounds, there was much that was similar in their evolution as song writers. Berlin was an immigrant who came to the United States when he was five years old as his family fled Russian progroms against the Jews. Guthrie was born in Oklahoma to a family that was stained by disease and violence on the part of his mother who was ill with Huntington This account of the writing of two songs celebrating the United States is informative and insightful. Although the two men had drastically different backgrounds, there was much that was similar in their evolution as song writers. Berlin was an immigrant who came to the United States when he was five years old as his family fled Russian progroms against the Jews. Guthrie was born in Oklahoma to a family that was stained by disease and violence on the part of his mother who was ill with Huntington’s disease that would also kill him at a relatively young age. Both songwriters knew poverty. One was urban and one was rural but their songs reflected their abilities to use their experiences well. Besides tracing the development of God Bless America and This Land is Your Land Shaw provides a history of popular and folk music. The transformation of Woody’s songs from hillbilly to folk is an example of this. Shaw also talks about the other aspects of music celebrating the United States as well as the impact of African-American music on the developing music culture of the United States. “Coon songs” were an important influence on popular culture. Guthrie wrote This Land in response to God Bless America which he thought was too sentimental. There is a clear sense of a country that was changing over time and how people like these two men were a part of that change, influencing it but also reflecting it and changing with the country. Both men experienced the good and bad of the country. For Berlin the anti-Semitism and for Guthire the anti-labor sentiments and the patriotism that the second World War evoked influenced their hymns to America.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bob Crawford

    I’m an amateur musician who has played Woody songs at events in California’s Central Valley for years. I occasionally play his “Plane Wreck At Los Gatos,” otherwise known as “Deportees,” to see if my farmer friends will run me out of town on a rail. They’re Conservative GOP, evangelical and have co-oped our flag as a symbol of the hard right. In short, they don’t like Woody’s songs. I love ‘em though my view of life is more centrist. I’ve also sung and appreciated Berlin’s masterpiece “God Bless A I’m an amateur musician who has played Woody songs at events in California’s Central Valley for years. I occasionally play his “Plane Wreck At Los Gatos,” otherwise known as “Deportees,” to see if my farmer friends will run me out of town on a rail. They’re Conservative GOP, evangelical and have co-oped our flag as a symbol of the hard right. In short, they don’t like Woody’s songs. I love ‘em though my view of life is more centrist. I’ve also sung and appreciated Berlin’s masterpiece “God Bless America” since grade school. But it never would have occurred to me that Guthrie and Berlin had anything in common except living in America. This book changed all that. Guthrie, the socialist working man, had a soft patriotic side despite his criticisms of our system. Berlin, the immigrant who had been both abused and made rich by Americans, stood up for integration and fair play way before it was fashionable or even acceptable to do so. This author did a great deal of research to prove that these two disparate geniuses had more in common than either would have admitted. At least for a wanna-be troubadour, this book was enlightening.

  7. 4 out of 5

    T.R. Shaw

    An amazing review of American History through music. Shaw gets into the circumstances and meaning behind some of America's most cherished music, from patriotism to protest, from religious to country, he digs deep into the meaning and intent behind the lyrics. This appeals to historians, music lovers and all Americans who want a better understanding of our musical heritage. An amazing review of American History through music. Shaw gets into the circumstances and meaning behind some of America's most cherished music, from patriotism to protest, from religious to country, he digs deep into the meaning and intent behind the lyrics. This appeals to historians, music lovers and all Americans who want a better understanding of our musical heritage.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Beautifully written, passionately researched. My husband and I present programs based on the history of American pop and folk songs and I can say that this one is an absolute gold mine of information. It covers much more than the background of the two titular songs and I wish Mr. Shaw would write more books--I'd certainly buy them! (There is another John Shaw listed on Goodreads, a photographer, but this author and that one are two different people, even though this book is listed with the photog Beautifully written, passionately researched. My husband and I present programs based on the history of American pop and folk songs and I can say that this one is an absolute gold mine of information. It covers much more than the background of the two titular songs and I wish Mr. Shaw would write more books--I'd certainly buy them! (There is another John Shaw listed on Goodreads, a photographer, but this author and that one are two different people, even though this book is listed with the photographer's).

  9. 5 out of 5

    patrick Lorelli

    This book is more than just about two men who wrote songs. The author not only gives you an over view of their lives but also a history lesson on music. The songs of our country from the Revolution thru the civil war, the war of 1812, world war one, world two and beyond. He goes into the back ground of songs and their makeup, the way they have change over the many years. The types of rhythms, or beats. How some songs started in churches, or your field songs, (slave songs) that is where the songs This book is more than just about two men who wrote songs. The author not only gives you an over view of their lives but also a history lesson on music. The songs of our country from the Revolution thru the civil war, the war of 1812, world war one, world two and beyond. He goes into the back ground of songs and their makeup, the way they have change over the many years. The types of rhythms, or beats. How some songs started in churches, or your field songs, (slave songs) that is where the songs originated and moved from the fields and churches to homes. Then he went into how ragtime music came about and other bar type songs, then the start of show tunes. During this time Irving Berlin who had migrated to this country from what is now Belarus. Came to this country in 1893 with his family because of Jewish prosecution, over 4 million Jews leave Russia during this period. By 1901 is out on his own peddling his songs trying to earn a living. By the time Woody Guthrie, is born in 1912, Berlin has written over a 100 songs and had more than enough money to buy his mother a home in the Bronx. Guthrie born in Oklahoma spent part of his childhood their and a place called Pampa, Texas. They moved there after his mother was put in a state hospital in Oklahoma. He grew up during the dust bowl and it would have a profound effect on him for the rest of his life. He lived in Pampa during what was called black Sunday April, 14 1935. They say 300,000 tons of topsoil was airborne that and the picture in the book is nothing like I have seen when they talk about the dust bowl. I can’t image anyone living through that day but they did. Berlin wrote God Bless America, in 1938 for the 20 year anniversary of the end of world war one. Kate smith sang it and for the most part it was a hit right away. War was looking closer so people were playing it on the radio. Guthrie thought the song was full of it. He did not see a country beautiful or anything that the song talked about. He saw people out of work the government taken farms, long lines for food, everything was backwards unless you had money. So he wrote a song to go against God Bless America. This Land is your Land. Once you break down the song and understand where Guthrie was coming from I can see what he was trying to say, I did not see that before. I have to say I already liked both of these songs so this just gave me a better appreciation for the songs and the men who wrote them. I got this book from net galley.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    This detailed and extremely well researched book tells the story of two unforgettable American anthems, God Bless America by Irving Berlin and This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie. Along the way it examines America’s musical heritage, from minstrelsy to country music, ragtime to spirituals, and everything in between and beyond. Both Berlin and Guthrie, although at first sight such different composers, had a lot in common. Berlin was a Russian émigré who rose from homelessness to wealth and fa This detailed and extremely well researched book tells the story of two unforgettable American anthems, God Bless America by Irving Berlin and This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie. Along the way it examines America’s musical heritage, from minstrelsy to country music, ragtime to spirituals, and everything in between and beyond. Both Berlin and Guthrie, although at first sight such different composers, had a lot in common. Berlin was a Russian émigré who rose from homelessness to wealth and fame by his own efforts, and Guthrie fled the Oklahoma Dust Bowl to achieve fame, certainly, if not the wealth of Berlin. But their humble beginnings informed their musicianship and their ability to entertain, and this dual biography of the two composers of these emblematic American anthems is both informative and endlessly fascinating. The book sometimes wanders off course, and Shaw is perhaps a little too fond of digressions. At times he goes into perhaps too much detail and parts of the book will be of more interest to a music specialist than the general reader, but overall there is much here for everyone to enjoy, and I certainly learnt a great deal about these 2 prolific composers, their music, and American music in general. Some great photos illuminate the text, and a full bibliography is there for further study. A welcome addition indeed to the musical history of America.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    John Shaw masterfully entwines the lives of two songwriters (Irving Berlin and Woody Guthrie) and two of their most famous songs (God Bless America and This Land is Your Land) in This Land I Love. He explores a number of parallels in their lives in regard to poverty stricken early life, early success, etc. He also contrasts their differences in background, politics, and success in life. However, not satisfied with entwining the songwriters, Shaw also compares the songs, looking into the textual John Shaw masterfully entwines the lives of two songwriters (Irving Berlin and Woody Guthrie) and two of their most famous songs (God Bless America and This Land is Your Land) in This Land I Love. He explores a number of parallels in their lives in regard to poverty stricken early life, early success, etc. He also contrasts their differences in background, politics, and success in life. However, not satisfied with entwining the songwriters, Shaw also compares the songs, looking into the textual history of each, tracing the myriad changes until we arrive at the finished product that we listen to or sing. Shaw provides the context that shaped each song, taking the reader on an exploration of American musical history that deepens our appreciation of each song. Shaw also kindly provides a recommended list of Berlin's and Guthrie's works. If you enjoy exploring musical history or just American history, This Land That I Love will provide plenty of pleasure.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kristi Richardson

    Nice book on the writing of God Bless America and This Land is your Land. The author also delves into the history of other anthems including My Country tis of Thee and The Battle Hymn of the Republic as well as the Star Spangled Banner. Gee, you can be a socialist, communist, lesbian and pedafile and still write patriotic songs and love our country. Just one of the lessons learned from this book. Woody Guthrie hated everything Irving Berlin stood for and yet the two men were quite alike in their Nice book on the writing of God Bless America and This Land is your Land. The author also delves into the history of other anthems including My Country tis of Thee and The Battle Hymn of the Republic as well as the Star Spangled Banner. Gee, you can be a socialist, communist, lesbian and pedafile and still write patriotic songs and love our country. Just one of the lessons learned from this book. Woody Guthrie hated everything Irving Berlin stood for and yet the two men were quite alike in their backgrounds. Both men grew up in poverty and yearned for a way out. Both chose music for their escape. I enjoyed the book for it's narrow subject path and it is a quick listen. The narrator did a great job.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Denise Morse

    Very thorough and interesting analysis of not just two classic American songs ("God Bless America" and "This Land is Your Land") but also about American songs and race in the period between WWI and WWII. Both songwriters are discussed from birth to death- their lives, their careers and these songs. I did not always get how these two writers meshed together, they were very different and the book didn't always find the way to connect them. I am left wanting to learn more about Irving Berlin and hi Very thorough and interesting analysis of not just two classic American songs ("God Bless America" and "This Land is Your Land") but also about American songs and race in the period between WWI and WWII. Both songwriters are discussed from birth to death- their lives, their careers and these songs. I did not always get how these two writers meshed together, they were very different and the book didn't always find the way to connect them. I am left wanting to learn more about Irving Berlin and his early life, and about the Dust Bowl of which I have not read as much about.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gene Bales

    Wonderful book looking at two popular national anthems in American life: Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land, and Irving Berlin's God Bless America. Guthrie's song was negatively inspired by Berlin's, hence the pairing of the two. The book does not disappoint in dissecting the two songs and the two composers. But it also illustrates the complex history of American popular music in a patriotic vein. I recommend it very highly to anyone with an interest in American popular music. Wonderful book looking at two popular national anthems in American life: Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land, and Irving Berlin's God Bless America. Guthrie's song was negatively inspired by Berlin's, hence the pairing of the two. The book does not disappoint in dissecting the two songs and the two composers. But it also illustrates the complex history of American popular music in a patriotic vein. I recommend it very highly to anyone with an interest in American popular music.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Excellent book chronicling the history, parallels and differences between God Bless America and This Land is Your Land, between Woody Guthrie and Irving Berlin, and between pre WWII America of Tin Pan Alley and the nascent country music scene. An interesting history of the era as well as of the musical influences on the song- this is a book about musical history as much a s US history.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    This work by musical philosopher John Shaw supplied evocative historical context in which the composers of "God Bless America" and "This Land Is My Land" wrote their timeless songs. His discussion of the history of the American popular song took me back to when I first learned these tunes way back in elementary school. The writing is thoughtful and joyful. This work by musical philosopher John Shaw supplied evocative historical context in which the composers of "God Bless America" and "This Land Is My Land" wrote their timeless songs. His discussion of the history of the American popular song took me back to when I first learned these tunes way back in elementary school. The writing is thoughtful and joyful.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rick Jones

    I liked it as an essay, but just when i would start getting interested in one topic, the author would be gone, onto another area. I would recommend finding a biography of either of these geniuses, and then making your own connections. A richer feel for the time would have been helpful.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sara Diane

    I got this from netGalley to preview. I had high hopes for this one, as I've loved songs by both men. But it read more like a very dry senior thesis than an engaging story. I'd recommend it for scholars and music nerds, but the rest of us might want to just enjoy the music. I got this from netGalley to preview. I had high hopes for this one, as I've loved songs by both men. But it read more like a very dry senior thesis than an engaging story. I'd recommend it for scholars and music nerds, but the rest of us might want to just enjoy the music.

  19. 5 out of 5

    David

    Definitely recommend. I wrote about the book for Slate: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/bo... Definitely recommend. I wrote about the book for Slate: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/bo...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    I wish the that the book focused more on the two songs and not the entire history of American anthems and protest songs. With that said, I learned a lot.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    stunning

  22. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Really entertaining, wide-ranging joint biography of these two songs and their rich musical lineage. Definitely recommended for anyone interested in music, history, or American Studies.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Macke

    it's a 5, a diamond in the rough ... Well conceived, 2 great Americans, 2 great songs ... what a country it's a 5, a diamond in the rough ... Well conceived, 2 great Americans, 2 great songs ... what a country

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marena Cole

  25. 4 out of 5

    Topher Shields

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mary Rebekah

  27. 5 out of 5

    John Shaw

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

  29. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Preston

  30. 5 out of 5

    Eric Letendre

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