- [-] Other Available FormatsOur PriceNew & Used MarketplaceKill 'em and Leave (Paperback)
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau$17.00Kill 'em and Leave (Audio Compact Disc - Unabridged)
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group$35.00
- ISBN-13: 9780812993509
- ISBN-10: 0812993500
- Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
- Publish Date: April 2016
- Page Count: 232
- Dimensions: 0.75 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-02-08
- Reviewer: Staff
McBride, mainly known for his bestselling 1995 memoir, The Color of Water, returns to nonfiction with an investigation into the life, times, and death of James Brown, the “hardest-working man in show business.” Though the soul singer’s musical legacy is ingrained in the collective American unconscious, many details about Brown’s personal life and the lives he touched along the way remain obscure. McBride reveals them while seeking to correct misconceptions perpetuated by the recent film Get On Up. Most notable among McBride’s tales are those involving Al Sharpton, whom Brown unofficially adopted; the relationship shines a light on both men’s lives that is often overlooked. Chasing down Brown’s life story all over the South, McBride enters some shady situations and stumbles on a story even larger than the Godfather of Soul himself: the fate of Brown’s estate, which has been so preyed upon by various lawyers that the poverty-stricken children for which it was meant haven’t seen a dime. McBride’s storytelling is heavily impeded by clichés and trite metaphors, but the power of his subject matter nevertheless shines through in this solid work of journalism. Agent: Flip Brophy, Sterling Lord. (Apr.)
Understanding the Godfather of Soul
James Brown’s impact on American popular culture reverberates so deeply through music and race relations that writers are still attempting to uncover the man behind the legend. In Kill ’Em and Leave, acclaimed writer James McBride (The Color of Water) seeks to explain why, for African Americans, Brown remains the “song of our life, the song of our entire history.”
The troubled soul singer revolutionized American music—fusing jazz and funk, for example—but he didn’t appear on the cover of Rolling Stone during his lifetime, and music critics often treated him as a joke.
McBride’s portrait of Brown is part cultural history, part music criticism and part memoir—as a child, McBride stood across the street from Brown’s house in Queens, waiting for a glimpse of his hero. Drawing on interviews with the singer’s family and friends, many of whom have never before spoken on the record about Brown, McBride paints a gloomy portrait of a man haunted by the demons of insecurity and mistrust, a musician whose career ascended rapidly and descended just as quickly, and an individual who insisted that children stay in school and who left most of his fortune to provide financial aid to children caught in the web of poverty. Brown so distrusted banks that he hid money everywhere and, McBride writes, always walked around with $3,000 worth of cashier’s checks for the last 20 years of his life.
Brown’s insecurity filtered down to members of his band, whom he mistreated, paid poorly and often spied on to see who was speaking badly of him behind his back; in short, McBride points out, he “dehumanized them.” In the end, Brown is a product of the South—a land of masks, in McBride’s words—where no one, especially a black man, can ever be himself.
McBride’s energetic storytelling, his sympathy for his subject and his deeply personal writing tell a sad tale of one of our most influential musicians.