This book looked interesting to me. It turned out to be compelling.
Like many others, I have always thought of the blues as a traditional, black musical style rooted in rural poverty, slavery, violence and dark bargains with the devil.
Escaping the Delta gently debunks these myths, and replaces them with an explanation that is both more interesting and more convincing. The book is intelligently structured, with an introductory section, a song-by-song treatment of Johnson's recordings (listen as you read!) and a rather understated wrap-up.
This is not a biography, and it leaves much of Johnson's life, relationships and death untouched. But Wald's point is that Johnson has been hijacked and turned into a modern phenomenon that would be unrecognizable to him and his peers, so he rightly focuses on the legend rather than the life.
If you are new to the blues, buy a copy of Escaping the Delta and a CD of the complete recordings of Robert Johnson, settle down with your favourite beverage and enjoy this book. If you are already into the blues, do all of the above, dig deeper into your record collection....and be ready for some surprises.
I have nothing but praise for this book, which is immaculately researched, fresh in its thinking, and always entertaining. I recommend it unreservedly.