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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring, touching and thought provoking book.
This book weaves together the stories of a concert tour in modern America, in company with a felt avatar of his ancestor, John Evans, that in turn followed the trail of the historic pioneering journey Evans took up the Missouri River and the myth and legend that led him there.

To quote from the book itself - "Facts are fluids that occasionally overspill the...
Published 3 months ago by Laila Podro

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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Following the paper (Dragon) trail
I'm always a little wary when music folk try out another artistic genre (have you seen any of McCartney's painting), especially considering that English is Gruff Rhys second language.
Unfortunately I found "American Interior" a little dry, I was expecting a surreal & none-linear journey that tied Gruff with his descendant John Evans.
Gruff has clearly a lot of...
Published 3 months ago by Jimi jac


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring, touching and thought provoking book., 28 May 2014
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This review is from: American Interior: The quixotic journey of John Evans, his search for a lost tribe and how, fuelled by fantasy and (possibly) booze, he accidentally annexed a third of North America (Kindle Edition)
This book weaves together the stories of a concert tour in modern America, in company with a felt avatar of his ancestor, John Evans, that in turn followed the trail of the historic pioneering journey Evans took up the Missouri River and the myth and legend that led him there.

To quote from the book itself - "Facts are fluids that occasionally overspill the vessel of truth. They leave a particular stain on the carpet that can take generations to fade away and if the carpet is woven from the absorbent wool of the Welsh imagination, they may never disappear entirely."

It's an inspiring, touching and thought provoking book. It references to the recent treatment of Native Americans has led me back to reread Peter Matthiessen's 'In the Spirit of Crazy Horse'. I can highly recommend it, as I can the app which makes a brilliant companion to the book and follows the story via three maps and completes the tail with short films and photos.
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5.0 out of 5 stars but he succeeds brilliantly in making John Evans' life and journey, 15 Sep 2014
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Rhys is a charming, witty and clear-headed companion following what is, frankly, obviously, a fool's mission, but he succeeds brilliantly in making John Evans' life and journey, with all its despairs and disasters, engaging and fascinating. The accompanying app is worth 2.99 of anyone's money and the album is probably his best non-SFA work to date. The whole project appears to have been meticulously thought through and I'll be ordering the DVD too shortly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A gift, 5 July 2014
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Bought as a gift for my sons birthday. It was on his wish list!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book that I bought on the strength of the ..., 2 July 2014
Brilliant book that I bought on the strength of the album (being an old SFA fan) Perfect summer holiday reaing
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fantastic. it complements the film so, 2 July 2014
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Absolutely fantastic .it complements the film so well
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5.0 out of 5 stars magnificent, 30 Jun 2014
An interesting book, written in an engaging way that skips from the history of John Evans to present day as Gruff travels around the American Interior in search of the truth about Evans. Informative, funny and quirky, what's not to like.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly written travel documentary from a Super Furry Animal, 8 Jun 2014
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Hilarious, educational, eccentric and charming - a fascinating journey of discovery that gets you thinking deeper about different cultures and how no matter which one you adopt, or immerse yourself in or are born into, they all matter. Loved this!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic insight into one of history's lost heroes, 18 July 2014
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R. Knight "farmboyrich" (down on the farm) - See all my reviews
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An exceptionally well written book offering a most concise, well-informed and insightful summary of John Evans' journey. Gruff's modern-day recreation of the journey and his musical tour ties in perfectly, with just the right amounts of each story.

Gruff also commendably refrains from any form of speculation concerning the Madoc myth, sticking faithfully to the facts as we know them. Contrast, for example, with Ellen Pugh's "Brave his Soul" (which is full of unsubstantiated speculation) and also the work of any number of other dreamers who have put two and two together to make five.

As a Madoc agnostic who has researched this corner of history in detail, the only things I've uncovered which aren't in Gruff's book are firstly some insights from Nicolas de Finiel's "An Account of Upper Louisiana". De Finiel's was living in St Louis at the same time as Evans and his account came not from first hand experience but from interviewing explorers who had recently returned from the titular region. One interviewee (who isn't named) is particularly taken by the sophistication of Mandan pottery and believes it suggests pre Columbus contact with Europeans. The interviewee is also keen for the Mandan to be left alone and uncorrupted by the modern world. I can only imagine who the interviewee might be, but I'd be surprised if it was anyone other than Evans. I hasten to add that the archaeology of W. Raymond Wood suggests nothing out of the ordinary with Mandan pottery fragments but if Evans is the mysterious interviewee, it at least suggests there may be a disparity between the official records and what Evans himself believed. Likewise with Evans' letter to Samuel Jones, which was clearly written under the close gaze of Don Trudeau. If the Mandan really were quite sendentary multi-lingual agriculturalists, with bull boats, earth lodges etc, why doesn't Evans at least mention those facts instead of being quite so dismissive? Of course it's absolutely no proof of anything Madoc-related but again it suggests a disparity between Evans' actual observations and the written record. I'm sure he'd have desperately wanted to find evidence of the Madogwys to justify his vast physical and emotional expense on the project, so surely would have wanted to mention anything which hinted at unusualness amongst the Mandan, so the very absence of any such observations in his letter home to me suggests his hand was guided.

Finally I'd also draw attention to the Mandan big bird story, as related by Ben Benson to Alfred Bowers in his book "Mandan cultural and ceremonial organisation". This myth presents an interesting tale of two brothers who spend time on an island across an ocean before getting homesick and "returning" to their Mandan family. Again, viewed scientifically it gets you absolutely nowhere nearer to finding Madoc, but it does place one more tiny tick in the "possible" column, as it fits the Madoc myth far more closely than the Lone Man story. Added to this is the fact that in the 12th century, the extant local culture was the quite homogenous South East Ceremonial Complex (SECC). By the early 13th century, the population of plains bison had shot up and there was a definite move towards tribal specialisation, with the emergence of hunters, farmers etc and some major migrations eg into Mexico. What happened around this time (late 12th and early 13th century) to cause the break-up of the SECC and the almost Darwinian speciation of these groups? I don't know, haven't read that far yet! But again it's another observation worthy of note.

But still, the whole thing is of course shadow chasing and the odds if Madoc having a. Existed b. sailed to America and c. Left a detectable legacy are extremely slim indeed. It's like picking lottery numbers, each tiny remote possibility would have to come good before addressing the next tiny remote possibility, the best anyone can ever hope to do is shorten a few of the odds but you're still looking at something ridiculously improbable.

Anyway, major digression there...! Suffice to say Gruff's book is great and I highly recommend it!
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Following the paper (Dragon) trail, 11 Jun 2014
I'm always a little wary when music folk try out another artistic genre (have you seen any of McCartney's painting), especially considering that English is Gruff Rhys second language.
Unfortunately I found "American Interior" a little dry, I was expecting a surreal & none-linear journey that tied Gruff with his descendant John Evans.
Gruff has clearly a lot of warmth, affection & enthusiasm, & the subject matter is extremely well researched; but that still doesn't make for a good read.
Evans obviously led a fascinating life, but the absence of a journal makes his importance as an historical figure mere speculation. Plus his contribution to mapping the uncharted parts of America seems a little over-stated.
Also Gruff own journey seems a little dull, his tries to add a bit of excitement by adding tales of being chased across state-lines by truck drivers, or meeting a Voodoo Queen, but they seem a little exaggerated to spice up his part of the story.
So all in all a bit of a effort to read, but a great album though.
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