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Publisher's Summary

National Book Award winner James McBride goes in search of the "real" James Brown - and his surprising journey illuminates not only our understanding of the Godfather of Soul but the ways in which our cultural heritage has been shaped by Brown's legacy.
A product of the complicated history of the American South, James Brown was a cultural shape-shifter who arguably had the greatest influence on American popular music of any artist. Brown was long a figure of fascination for James McBride, a professional musician as well as a writer. When McBride receives a tip that promises to uncover the man behind the myth, he follows a trail that reveals the personal, musical, and societal influences that created this immensely troubled, misunderstood, and complicated soul genius.
James McBride is one of the most distinctive and electric voices in American literature today, and in Kill 'Em and Leave he uncovers a story that helps to explain Brown's legacy: the cultural landscape of America today.
©2015 James McBride (P)2015 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

"Dominic Hoffman's performance is fantastic as he grooves and funks to the material.... His accents and pacing deftly capture each individual who was part of Brown's life." ( AudioFile)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Kindle Customer on 04-10-16

A Captivating Narrative of a Complex Man

First off, I usually do not write reviews but because of McBride's fluid narrative of Mr. James Brown, I was compelled to do so.
I grew up in the 1960s in NY and Mr. Brown's music had my friends jumping to his unabashed funk. He epitomized Blackness in a brash, and proudly unapologetic way.
Years later I would hear the stories of abuse of women, his band members, etc. I would also relocate to South Carolina, which McBride nailed in his descriptions of its resident's attitude and posture on race and status. McBride and the audio narrator do an Excellent job in conveying what possibly made Mr. Brown the complex man he was. From the insightful interviews, history and environment, Mr. Brown's story is one of survival. Right, wrong, and crazy, but non the less on his own terms.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Raleigh on 06-17-16

always in view / never understood

? do you find james brown's music unforgettable
? do the sad stories of his life seem incomplete
? are you willing to speculate about his true nature

if so, james mc bride has a terrific book for you
brown was a fastidious, pessimistic and driven man
he then hid those qualities in a public life of explosive music

the idea of being truly known, by his fans or anyone, terrified him
his music and stage performances were, for him, a reliable shield
mc bride, almost like an archaeologist, has many layers to get through

the truth about brown is often implied or shaded rather than stated
the most reliable references are almost always subtle or oblique
connecting these disparate dots requires mc bride's best effort and insight

as i listen to james brown's music now, mc bride's book comes to mind
his observations and conclusions amplify its' energy and meaning
i'd recommend this sly, speculative book to any true james brown fan

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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