Van Ronk's original idea was to write a wide-ranging history of the Greenwich Village scene, with his collaborator Elijah Wald. Sadly he died while the project was under way. What we have, then, is essentially a truncated memoir of his own time in the Village, which pretty much stutters to a halt some time in the mid-1960s (he lived another 40 years). It's true that this means that it covers the time most readers will probably be interested in, but there is a sense throughout of a project that is only partly realised. At times, the narrative lapses into lists of names - people whose role in the story are thereby acknowledeged, but never expanded upon. Also, the fact that he saw the project as being historical rather than autobiographical means that much of the information about himself and his background is vague and sketchy. Whether this is because he was deliberately resisting letting the potential reader into aspects of his life that he considered not relevant to the story he wanted to tell, or whether it's another mark of a project that remains unfinished is impossible to tell. So much for what we don't get - what we do get is enormously valuable as an account of that time and place, its joys and its frustrations, its heroes and villains, Much of it reads very well, too - on the face of it, you get the impression that Wald has succeeded much of the time in capturing the man's voice, of conveying his delight in talking, in words, in telling stories. This is a fascinating and important story and while this is very far from telling it all, it offers enough to make it required reading for anyone who is interested in that story - in what went into it, and what came out of it.