Synopses & Reviews
Perhaps now best known as an acclaimed (and bestselling) author of fiction, Joe Klein has for nearly three decades been one of contemporary journalism's premiere reporters. In "Woody Guthrie: A Life", Klein's signature style of insightful narrative nonfiction brings to life a vivid chapter in the history of American culture.
In 1998, the Woody Guthrie Foundation made public for the first time more than 10,000 of his papers, letters, song lyrics, and artworks, sparking renewed interest in the life of an American folk legend who influenced generations of musicians to come. The New York Times, reporting on the phenomenon, described Guthrie's appeal and legacy succinctly: "(Woody Guthrie was) one of the most influential cultural figures of the century. Guthrie inspired Bob Dylan and virtually created the modern folk tradition and singer-songwriter genre, and his music remains as vital today as when he was performing".
Born in Oklahoma in 1912, Guthrie spent his early years among the farmers and migrant workers of the dust bowl. As a young man during the Great Depression, he traveled across the country by boxcar with his guitar, composing the indelible folk ballads that made him a leader of the politically vital folk movement of the pre-war era. Tragically, the onset of Huntington's disease, gradually diminished his mind, body, and work, and led to his untimely death at the age of 55. Still, Guthrie's life and music have inspired every important folk and folk rock artist since, from Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez to Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bragg, and Ani DiFranco.