Will The Circle Be Unbroken: Country Music In America
About once a decade, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum seems to produce a fresh, lavishly illustrated history of the music. Yes, they are coffee table books, but this one aspires to rather more: It asks to be read. Particularly this one.
The title is particularly apt, for the main chapters of this history (and no small number of sidebars) have been written by some of the most respected scholars of country music, several of whom can be credited with creating the field: Bill C. Malone, Charles K. Wolfe, Ronnie Pugh, and Rich Kienzle among them. Other chapters come from comparatively younger pens, including Jon Weisberger and Peter Cooper.
(And, yes, all those — save the late Professor Wolfe — have written for ND over the years.)
Still, it is a book one looks at first, not simply because the cover (and some of the interior typography) comes from Hatch Show Print, not even because it is arranged like one of those new-fangled noisy magazines with lots of color and interesting bits of things in the margins to distract one from the narrative.
One looks because so much of the history is told in the posters and handbills and album covers and promotional photos unearthed from the museum’s enormous collection. One looks because the objects themselves are beautiful. (And, of course, so were many of the musicians.)
It’s not a cheap book (nor, at $40, is it particularly expensive), and some chapters inevitably cover ground that may be familiar, depending on who you’re giving the book to. But it is beautifully printed and lovingly assembled. And the Garth era takes up only 30 pages, at the end.