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Publisher's Summary

What was it about a small, humble folk instrument that allowed it to become an American icon? The guitar represents freedom, the open road, protest and rebellion, the blues, youth, lost love, and sexuality. Tim Brookes explores with adoration these ideas and how they became entwined with the history of America. Shortly before Tim Brookes' 50th birthday, baggage handlers destroyed his guitar, his 22-year-old traveling companion. His wife promised to replace it with the guitar of his dreams, but Tim discovered that a dream guitar is built, not bought. He set out to find someone to make him the perfect guitar, a quest that ended up a on a dirt road in the Green Mountains of Vermont, where an amiable curmudgeon master guitarmaker, Rick Davis, took a rare piece of cherry wood and went to work with saws and rasps.
Meanwhile, Tim set out to write a kind of chronicle of the guitar, as he said, "not a catalog of makes and models, nor a genealogy of celebrities, but an attempt to understand this curious relationship between the instrument and the people involved with it, and how that has grown and changed over time".
He discovered that the instrument, first arriving with conquistadors and the colonists, ended up in the hands of a variety of people: miners and society ladies, lumberjacks and presidents' wives, Hawaiians, African-Americans, Cajuns, jazz players, spiritualists, singing cowboys of the silver screen, and bluegrass and Beatles fans. Inventors and crackpots tinkered with it. In time, it became America's instrument, its soundtrack.
When Tim wasn't breathing over Rick's shoulder, he was trying to unravel the symbolic associations a guitar holds for so many of us, musicians and non-musicians alike. His journey takes him across the country talking to historians, curators, and guitarmakers.
©2005 Tim Brookes (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Colin on 08-16-05

Amazingly, a real page-turner

Who could have thought that a combination of craftsman's tale and musical history could be so addictive? Brookes intersperses the construction of his new guitar with a detailed account of the guitar's place in global and America music and I couldn't stop listening. Only two regrets, one of them already fixed:

- After such a detailed description of the custom built guitar, I wanted to see it. Fortunately there are pictures available at (search for "brookes" and "guitar").

- The audio-book format could have been used to great effect to illustrate the many musical styles discussed in the book. Brookes is almost poetic in his description of the many sounds that can be had from a guitar and some clips would have just been the gravy on the cake. Or something like that.

Highly recommended, probably best for middle-aged guys like me who have 25 years+ of fascination under their belts, but have never really stopped to think why and how it all happened.

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23 of 23 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Ronald on 10-18-10

Excellent! For anyone who appreciates the guitar!

Having played guitar for almost 25 years now, I began listening to this book with high hopes and was not disappointed. I learned stuff I would never have known otherwise, laughed out loud several times, and grinned with satisfaction a few times when Tim Brookes confirmed things I only thought I knew, and how I was able to guess what film he was talking about when he tells the story of the movie theme that REALLY started the British Invasion!

Often when a writer reads his own work I am disappointed with the performance and wonder if vanity or budget were what drove the decision not to hire a professional, but I have no beef with it here at all. The reading is lively Mr. Brookes has a pleasant voice to listen to.

My only complaint is that I wanted more, and I suppose that would be more compliment than complaint.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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