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4.4 out of 5 stars
16
Across The Great Divide: The Band and America
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on 19 May 2015
This is an excellently researched book, covering just about everything you need to know about The Band. I loved the old stories when they were The Hawks, backing Ronnie Hawkins, who hardened them to life on the road in the sixties, and it was obvious there was a mutual respect there even when they became world famous, and Ronnie's career flagged. The account here of the transition to the Dylan years comes up with quite a bit that wasn't previously common knowledge, and the backround of each member is well researched also. The impact of the Big Pink and The Band albums on the dreary world of late 60's music can't be over estimated, and this book documents it well. An excellent book.
2 people found this helpful
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on 11 September 2014
I love the Band, like you wouldnt believe. This is a full account of the journey of the band throughout their run. Unfortunately it doesnt read terribly well, its made up of interviews and excerpts and I watched an episode of behind the music or the making of the brown album and essentially everything that was in the show was replicated in the book. They could have very possibly been done in conjunction with one another but it just felt that it was a waste of time to read the book when I could have watched this hour long loc and get the same information.

Not complaining though, Ill literally read anything Band related.
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on 22 October 2017
great
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on 26 September 2015
Nearly finished it, it's a good read, fills in a lot of gaps in my knowledge of The Band. Can't help feeling I'd like to read another similar book to see if it's the same story.
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on 20 August 2017
Looks like a really comprehensive book
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on 5 May 2015
The definitive book on The Band, one of the greatest bands of all time. A great read
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on 16 July 2015
very happy
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on 17 January 2015
excellant
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on 30 January 2015
Good quality
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 22 July 2012
I bought this book for research purposes, whilst preparing an article about the recently deceased singing drummer, Levon Helm. I already knew that Hoskyns is amongst the best writers on popular music working today, having also read his exemplary writings on Tom Waits (Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits) and the singer-songwriters of the LA/Laurel Canyon scene (Hotel California: Singer-songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the L.A. Canyons 1967-1976). Across The Great Divide lives up to the high standards of his other books, being pretty well balanced between getting over the facts and conveying the excitement felt by someone who's clearly an admirer and fan.

Like all his other subjects (at least insofar as the books I've read are concerned), the psychological and emotional topography, appeal and excitement of the book, more or less follows the profile of Hoskyns' subjects careers: the early days and back-story are wonderfully beguiling, full of excitement and promise of things to come; this is followed by the halcyon days, in this case covering a significant chunk of the groups career, first as The Hawks, backing Ronnie Hawkins, then working with Dylan - helping him 'go electric' - and finally becoming 'The Band', and waxing their two most lauded recordings, 'Music from Big Pink', and their second album (in my opinion easily their best, by many a country mile), originally referred to as 'The Brown Album', but now known simply as 'The Band'.

The remainder of the book is still interesting, and worth reading, but it does follow a gradual and almost inexorable downward curve, a sad but oh-so-familiar trajectory: success, indulgence, disintegration, decline, and death. The book already covered the tragic suicide of Richard Manuel, and was subsequently updated to take in Rick Danko's passing. It even has a postscript interview with Helm, added after his first brush with throat cancer. I wonder if the book will be revised again in the wake of his more recent passing?

An excellent and very enjoyable book, about a band whose highest points were indeed sublime. Still, it's a 'sad and beautiful' story, as well as an occasionally exciting and exhilarating one, and I find it intriguing from the point of view of the myth-making and reverence surroundings figures like Dylan and The Band. Thank goodness popular music has at least some writers like Hoskyns, intelligently and articulately chronicling interesting facets of a still-young art form. I'm looking forward to his imminent Zeppelin book, which will of course also cover another dead drum hero amongst the colourful protagonists.
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