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Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock 'n' Roll

Marc Dolan (Author)


A vibrant biography of one of the greatest rock 'n' rollers, the America that made him, and the America he made.

Smart and incisive, this unique book takes us through Bruce Springsteen’s life by tracing the cultural, political, and personal forces that shaped his music. Beyond his constant stylistic adaptations, Springsteen developed over the decades from expressing the voice of a guy from working-class New Jersey to writing about the larger issues facing the country, including war, class disparity, and prejudice. Marc Dolan draws on a range of new and little-known sources—including hundreds of unreleased studio recordings and bootlegs of live performances—making this an indispensable reference for avid Springsteen fans as well as those interested in learning the stories behind his music. Combining political analysis, music history, and colorful storytelling, Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock ’n’ Roll reveals how a gifted, ambitious community college dropout achieved superstardom—and spent decades refining what he wanted his music to say.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • June 2012
  • ISBN 978-0-393-08135-0
  • 6.5 × 9.6 in / 528 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverBruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock 'n' Roll


Endorsements & Reviews

“In an appreciative study that at times verges on the academic, Dolan traces Springsteen’s journey through a song-by-song and album-by-album development…” — Publishers Weekly

Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock ’n’ Roll endeavors to get to the heart of its subject by viewing him through the economic, social, political, religious and family turmoil that formed a musician who found out early on how to make his guitar talk but spent painful decades refining what he needed to make it say. Springsteen’s creative evolution and endurance as a populist American rock ’n’ roll hero is, according to Dolan, "a slantwise way of telling the history of our times, how we have come together and divided over the last half-century, how we have changed what we think of ourselves as a people."” — Robin Finn, New York Times Book Review

“Readable and engrossing.” — Booklist

“The definitive Springsteen biography/musical analysis, finely written and meticulously researched... by an academic who can write for a popular audience.... For fans, Dolan’s book is a necessary addition to the Springsteen library. For more casual listeners, who often wonder just what the fuss is all about, this volume is a good place to start.” — Michael Riley, Asbury Park Press

“Marc Dolan has written a book of rock criticism at its finest. He brings to the story of Bruce Springsteen an encyclopedic knowledge, a clean, fast-moving prose style, and an irrepressible love of his subject. The Boss deserves no less, and he could ask for no better.” — John Matteson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Lives of Margaret Fuller

“A riveting profile of New Jersey’s great bard. Dolan, the ultimate Springsteen fan, has an encyclopedic knowledge of his subject. And his infectious love of American popular music is nothing short of awesome. The best book on Bruce ever written!” — Douglas Brinkley, author of Cronkite

“A unique biography of a great rock ’n roll artist drawn from 40 years of thrilling performances. If you’re a Springsteen fan, this will deepen your appreciation. And if you’re not a fan, what the hell is wrong with you?” — William McKeen, author of Rock 'n Roll is Here to Stay: An Anthology

“With the notable exception of Bob Dylan, no other singer-songwriter still active in the 21st Century has spawned as many academic studies as The Boss, and Dolan’s book is among the very best. As a chronicler of our times, Springsteen has few equals... and the author’s examination of an extraordinary body of work is as clear-headed and accessible as the music itself.... By necessity, his book also serves as a history of America, outlining a nation’s political conflicts, class disparity, prejudices and shortcomings.... [T]he author is especially evocative in his descriptions of working class New Jersey in the 60s and early 70s. Where he scores his most emphatic bullseyes, however, is in his assessment of how Springsteen handled his wealth and stardom; of how his conscience and politics adapted to being one of the most famous men in the world without losing sight of the struggles of his core audience, the ‘little’ man on the street.” — Terry Staunton, record Collector

“Dolan makes a point of telling more than just the Boss’ personal history, putting his putting his musical contributions in context with the country’s political state.” — radio.com

“Readable and engrossing.” — Booklist

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