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Country Music: An Illustrated History

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  169 ratings  ·  35 reviews
The rich and colorful story of America's most popular music and the singers and songwriters who captivated, entertained, and consoled listeners throughout the twentieth century--based on the upcoming eight-part film series to air on PBS in September 2019

This gorgeously illustrated and hugely entertaining history begins where country music itself emerged: the American South
Hardcover, 560 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Average rating 4.46  · 
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Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Country Music: An Illustrated History by Dayton Duncan, (Kenneth Burns), is a 2019 Knopf Publishing Group publication.

I love Ken Burn’s PBS documentaries. However, I will make a sheepish confession – Often times I tuned in to these documentaries, even though the subject matter wasn’t always one I was all that interested in, just so I could listen to Peter Coyote narrate the series. I love his voice!

While I haven’t seen all the Ken Burns documentaries, the ones I have seen were absolutely incre
Stinky Girl
Jun 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a good chronology of country music and its' particapants.
David Doty
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The accompanying volume to the PBS mini-series of the same name, this book is everything you'd expect from Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns--thoroughly researched history, fascinating stories, and a compelling narrative that leaves you wanting more. Tracing the arc of country music from its "hillbilly" and Western swing roots in the 1920s and 1930s to the rise of the "Nashville sound" and the Grand Ole Opry in the 1950s and 1960s, to its more recent crossover into rock and pop, Dayton and Burns paint ...more
Jay Gabler
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Why does it always seem like country music is having an identity crisis? Does R&B have identity crises? Does pop? Does hip-hop? Sure, but somehow with country music there always seems to be a tension between some idea of "real country" and whatever genres, ideas, or textures are influencing the sound of music made by artists who consider themselves country.

In his landmark book Country Music USA: 50th Anniversary Edition, Bill C. Malone (with co-author Tracey E.W. Laird for the most recent editio
Dawn Livingston
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic history of country music from the early 1900's to about the death of Johnny Cash with lots of great pics and quotes.

Even if you're not a fan of country music, the way it developed over the years and how one generation learned from the one before is truly fascinating.

A great book for fans of music, country music. You won't find a better book about music.
Leanne Rainwater
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! Would’ve given it 6 stars if I could... so many good stories & pictures. Highly recommended! ...more
Edmund Davis-Quinn
A lot of fascinating vignettes.

Odd that it actually read better out of order much of the time.

I read about a third of it but time to return to the library.

The TV series is wonderful though.

Would be a nice coffee table book for those who love country music in all of it's vastness.
Terry Dullum
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of the most enjoyable books I've read in a very long time.
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, music
I grew up on country music of the 90s (and 80s when the radio played songs from before I was born). Reba, George Strait, Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, Sawyer Brown, and so many others. So when I saw this documentary was coming out, I knew I had to watch it.

And I did. I watched the documentary before I read the book. Of the two, I would recommend watching the documentary. That way, you can hear the music they're referencing.

But the book isn't bad. The book is basically word for word the script use
Geoffrey Kelley
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am not a diehard country music fan, but this series was nothing short of brilliant. This lavishly illustrated companion book is the perfect compliment to the eight-part, sixteen hour TV series. I decided to watch each episode first, then read the matching chapter. It was a great way to catch some information missed at first watch. Two elements really stood out for me. First, the incredible stories of the musicians themselves, often born dirt poor, but with big talent and bigger dreams. From th ...more
Brian Hutzell
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I grew up watching Hee-Haw, and had a real fondness for country music as a kid. (This was before I got older and became a jazz snob, far too hip for Podunk country music.) My favorite songs were Marty Robbins’s “El Paso” and anything at all by Roger Miller. The first album I remember buying was a collection of country songs from the 1960s-70s, featuring artists like Faron Young, Ferlin Husky, Anne Murray, and Lynn Anderson. In the many years since then, I have occasionally revisited my country r ...more
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Kate Lawrence
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, artists
I didn't want to watch all sixteen hours of the Ken Burns PBS series of the same title, so I picked up this companion book. With it, I could review all the parts I was especially interested in and the later episodes I hadn't watched. Plus Burns' preface, Duncan's afterword, and all those photographs. Although as an old-time banjo player, my primary focus has been on the musical styles that PRECEDED country music, there was still a great deal of interest here. One of the best parts is on the dedi ...more
Anne Hoffman
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've been a country music fan since I was seven and listened and obsessed over my dad's Glenn Campbell's Rhinestone Cowboy album (I especially loved the puffy cover artwork). That same year, I fell in love with Tanya Tucker and her Greatest Hits. This book reminded me how much I miss album cover artwork and when I was 13 my dad took me to see Willie Nelson. I loved this book; the photos and the stories (Marty Stuart and Connie Smith!). I read it with my Spotify account so I could listen to whate ...more
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-audiobook
I always enjoy Ken Burns' work on PBS and have not yet gotten the opportunity to see this series.

The narration is excellent here, including the portions by Ken himself. The only thing that would possibly have made it better would be if at least some of the artists' quotes were in their own voices.

This is a thorough trip through the history of country music from its beginnings and the tidbits about the industry wove through the politics of America much more than I previously thought.

Note that th
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Music rights are notoriously tough. So if this audio version suffers at all, it is from not having any music clips. It also has no illustrations, so you will miss the "Illustrated History" subtitle of this book. After that, it is the perfect audio book: gently and unassumingly read, with Ken Burns himself adding the epigrams, where you might usually hear Dylan McDermott or Amy Madigan. His is not a reader's voice, however, so Brian Corrigan carries the weight effortlessly. Great stories, organiz ...more
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this companion to the documentary series except that it was so big that it was difficult to hold. Lots of great pictures & information that I missed listening to the documentary. Made me go to YouTube numerous times to listen to songs, particularly when they spoke about different versions of the same song which, if they played on the PBS series, they only played as snippets instead of the whole version. ...more
Patrick Macke
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
It's a selective history that is engaging because it's as much about America as it is music ... I have never listened to contemporary country music, but the musicians of country music's past, in many ways, created the soundtrack of a nation and so learning their story is to learn little more about ourselves
Bargain Sleuth Book Reviews
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
Very good companion to the PBS series. My only complaint, and I've found this with all Ken Burns companion books, is that many times the text is word-for-word the same as the script. You'd think writing for print would present differences to a television script. But whatever, it works. Because of that, I recommend you own the book or the DVD but not both because of the redundancies.
James Kennedy Public Library
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you watched the accompanying documentary, much of what is in this book is verbatim what you heard in the documentary. But there is still lots of additional information in the book not discussed in the documentary. Also, there are hundreds of great photos in this book and that alone makes it worth checking out.
Gerald Kinro
Too much information to be a coffee table book. Yet it is wonderfully illustrated with priceless, nostalgic photos from bygone days. Well-researched and I thought very thorough. It brings to light the people and forces that shaped country music from its genesis to what it is today. On top of that, it is a wonderful read.
Peg Lotvin
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I listened to the audio version and was disappointed there was no actual music on the CD. Once I got over that the book was enjoyable. The author had a way of introducing each country singer without actually naming them right off. Bit of fun trying to guess who he was talking about. All in all this was a wonderful overview of country music from Jimmy Rogers to Garth Brooks.
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great read! I enjoyed the PBS series and thought I'd read the book to get any details I may have missed. Photos are great, all the musicians I love are in there. If you love country music and want to learn about where it started and how it grew into what it is today, read this book.
Anne McGill
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this book after watching the PBS special on Country Music (which I actually watched twice). The book is more in depth and I learned more about the lives and struggles of those writing and singing music.
Crystal Toller
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Country Music

I got this book from overdrive because I just watched the film on PBS and loved it. The book is just as good as the film. Really enjoyed reading about this music. As a music lover I really enjoyed this book. Highly recommend this book.
Chris Doelle
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was very impressed with this book. It is an expansive look at the history of country music. Whether you like country or not, this is a great history book. My full review --> ...more
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you watched the PBS Ken Burns documentary or not, you will want to read or listen to this book.
This is like a college course in country music.
Dayton Duncan is clearly one of the best writers in America.
Oct 14, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2019-new
Susan Liston
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Typically nice Ken Burns book to go with the very good series...
Mystic Miraflores
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is basically the script of the PBS series of the same name. Yes, it has photos but not as many as one would see in the actual video series. And of course, we can't hear the actual wonderful music or the interviewees speaking with their emotions.
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