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Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century [Paperback]

Greil Marcus
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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There is a newer edition of this item:
Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century: A Secret History of the 20th Century Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century: A Secret History of the 20th Century 4.4 out of 5 stars (10)
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Book Description

18 Feb 2002
A cult classic in a new edition. This book is about a single, serpentine fact: late in 1976 a record called 'Anarchy in the UK' was issued in London, and this event launched a transformation of pop music all over the world. The song distilled, in crudely poetic form, a critique of modern society once set out by a small group of Paris intellectuals. In Lipstick Traces, Greil Marcus's classic book on punk, Dadaism, the situationists, medieval heretics and the Knights of the Round Table (amongst others), the greatest cultural critic of our times unravels the secret history of the twentieth century.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; New edition edition (18 Feb 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571212883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571212880
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 19 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,529,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'Lipstick Traces time travels on the wings of philosophy, history, conjecture and copious research to visit parallel movements of cultural rebellion... they range dizzyingly from punk to Dadaism, from French situationists to Anabaptism... destined, in other words, to achieve cult status.' The New York Times 'The world's greatest living rock critic.' Charles Shaar Murray, Independent

Book Description

A cult classic in a new edition. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music or Mayhem? 1 Jun 1998
By A Customer
This is not your father's music history book.
If you are expecting a book about punk rock, read it. It is about punk rock in a manner of speaking. But even if you aren't a punk rocker, still read it. I know they always say this and then you think to yourself, why would I want to read a book about something I could care less about? But this book only uses punk as a kind of centerpiece or metaphor. But this book is about everything--Dadaism, revolution, Situationism, even a medieval religious fanatic who walled himself into a city with a group of followers resorting to canabalism and self-annihilation. See, it seems interesting. It is scholarly, but quite readable (and God knows, most aren't). Sometimes a little unfocused, but if it had too much structure, it wouldn't be punk.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good cultural history, inspite of the punk 22 Nov 2006
This is a must read for any arts student. It will take whatever interest they may have in "punk" and present the phenomena in a new light. This is a far broader (and more "artistic") context then the gritty social history of Savage's England's Dreaming.

Marcus' original thesis is that the Sex Pistols were heirs to the theories of the Situationists - and were, perhaps, the concrete manifestation of their obtuse and impenetrable philosophy. This realisation of situationist thinking - it is argued - took the form of a pure 'revolt' by the disenfranchised punks. This articulated their desire to live as the "subjects, and not the objects of history".

Taking this as his Thesis, Marcus proceeds upon a fragmented "secret history" of the twentieth century - connecting the threads which led from the Free Spirit Brethen through radical "left bank" groups down to the punks. This "secret history" is that of marginal groups holding out for "impossible freedom" against the dominant discourse which would crush it. Marcus reproduces some Situationist artwork and I must confess that, for me, the Punk stuff is the shallow stuff in here. You might be drawn by the unique perspective on punk but you will leave an aspirant situationist.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great eye-opener 29 May 2002
By A Customer
This book is divided into 2 parts. The first bases history around the Sex Pistols, and the second gives a more sensible (but less quirky) overview of 20th century history. Margin notes instead of foot notes, the relevent information is easy to find. A hopeless refrence book, but a great read nevertheless. The originality of thinking, and the illustrations come together to give a new relection of the recent past. I suppose one could call it how punk came about, but it wouldn't give the book justice; as in no way does it concentrate only on punk. It is used as a familiar ground to base everything else around. How did anarchy come about? Written sensatively and with many little gems. I would recomend this book to people with an interest in humanities, whether practising artists/musicians, or lovers of theory, this book gives an origional slant, and explains everything from the begining. Great for GCSE/A-Level to make things fun, or for people with a wider knowledge, who've got bored with reading the same old opinions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Is it just me, or does it just go a bit too far? I admit, I never did get to finish the book, and probably didn't get to see the whole "point" of it all...

Engaging and eclectic, but I kinda lose track when he gets just a bit too far from rock and roll itself.

(I don't wanna compare, but "Psychotic Reactions..." by Lester Bangs [w/c marcus edited] is more "unputdownable" and didn't require me to brush up on my 20th century avant-garde theory)

The CD of this book is just as strange. (did they ever release it as CD/book combination?) Check out that sound poetry!! Marie Osmond too! And the last song, "Lipstick Traces" is just WONDERFUL.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life will never be the same again! 9 Aug 1999
By A Customer
I bought this book about a year ago and have read it 4 times since. Despite being a huge, scolarly, intellectual work, it still manages to exite at just the same level as the music about which it speaks. Facts and ideas appear and disappear again only to resurface generations later in a different, often more potent and subversive context. Some of the ideas covered are self-evidently unworkable (as Marcus knows as well as his readers) but they still excite and energise the imagination through their sheer radicalism. Like the best Punk Music they prompt the reader to a paradoxical reaction: "I can't condone any of this intellectually, but I feel like fighting in the streets to defend it". Read it, and it will remind you how pitifully dull and conformist your life is. Obviously, you won't be manning barricades on the street, but your first reading of this towering work will blow your assumptions and preconceptions apart and regular helpings thereafter will keep your sense of intellectual radicalism alive, kicking and screaming "Destroy!!"
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