We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
Kill 'Em and Leave Audiobook

Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul

Regular Price:$28.00
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (81 )
5 star
 (50)
4 star
 (18)
3 star
 (9)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
 (1)
Overall
4.3 (72 )
5 star
 (45)
4 star
 (13)
3 star
 (10)
2 star
 (1)
1 star
 (3)
Story
4.5 (72 )
5 star
 (51)
4 star
 (13)
3 star
 (5)
2 star
 (2)
1 star
 (1)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 06-17-16
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 06-17-16 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    210
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    91
    85
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer 04-10-16 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amzoomer 06-17-16
    Amzoomer 06-17-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant, compelling, profound, funny, sad, great"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely. A terrific story of one of the most important and ground breaking artists our culture has produced...in spite of our racist culture.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Who else but Mr. Brown. Close second: the author, who put so much of himself into this book and in the best way possible.


    What about Dominic Hoffman’s performance did you like?

    I kept thinking he was the author; that's how convincing and heartfelt his reading is.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    If I had the time, yes.


    Any additional comments?

    This is not just the story of James Brown, and you don't have to be a rabid fan like me to enjoy this book. It's the story of African American artists and their struggle. The story of families, supportive families and less benign relatives. There are heroes in this book, mainly black but also white. I could go on, but I will spare you...except one last word: I'm a white, middle aged male. I learned a hell of a lot about myself and my attitudes about race from reading this book, and for that, I thank Mr. James McBride.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph 04-09-16
    Joseph 04-09-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    25
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Beautiful but sorrowful history"

    Excellent narration and a superb job by James McBride in telling the story of his search for James Brown.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave 09-19-16
    Dave 09-19-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    93
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    146
    38
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A contextual biography that is well worth the ride"

    James Brown was one of the most influential and important American musicians in the last half of the 20th century and James McBride does a stellar job describing Brown's life and the environment--political, racial and musical--from which he emerged. McBride also describes the lasting impact Brown had on Michael Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton and others.

    McBride only briefly mentions some of the troubling aspects of Brown's life, including his violence against women. The brief coverage of these apparently recurring episodes was inadequate and seemed out of place in an otherwise in depth review of Brown's life.

    Dominic Hoffman turns in a dazzling performance narrating the book. Of particular note is Hoffman's treatment of a colloquy between Brown and a young Rev. Al Sharpton after Brown rocked the house at a Las Vegas concert. Sharpton wanted to stay for the after-party, but Brown felt that a true superstar shouldn't stick around after the show: "Kill 'em and leave, Rev. Kill 'em and leave."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie Youngs 08-31-16 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "All around great book."

    Weather you are a fan of James Brown or not this is an excellent book. The book is also a great history lesson.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    barbaraj 08-23-16
    barbaraj 08-23-16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Just when you thought you knew James Brown..."
    What made the experience of listening to Kill 'Em and Leave the most enjoyable?

    The narrator caught the tone of the story. I couldn't wait to get back in the car to listen to more.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    James Brown, the subject of the book. I learned much more about the man.


    What does Dominic Hoffman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His character voicing is incredible.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I felt the author educated the reader on African American culture as much as educated us on the Godfather of Soul.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 06-07-16
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 06-07-16 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    845
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    519
    405
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    278
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "going deep"

    James McBride has penned a wonderfully detailed story about James Brown. It contains material you just don't see in the typical article or book about Mr. Brown. Very entertaining, especially the shift in narration when Mr. Brown is being quoted.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TonyaA6 05-29-16
    TonyaA6 05-29-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A history lesson about the life of the Godfather of Soul"

    I almost described this as a telling of Mr. Brown as a complicated person but, really, he wasn't. He was a brilliant musician and artist, with a steadfast determination to give us his art on his own terms. And, flawed. We don't want to believe the people whom we admire are flawed because enjoying their work allows us to escape our flawed selves.

    Thank you, Mr. McBride, for reminding us why James Brown was the Godfather of Soul.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hanako Florida, USA 05-07-16
    Hanako Florida, USA 05-07-16 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Engrossing, beautifully written, historical."

    The author curates a history of American music by spotlighting the pain and misery that gave birth to it. Superior narration takes you into the story and gives it added context.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.