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Publisher's Summary

Senior editor at L.A. Magazine RJ Smith saw his first book, The Great Black Way, win the coveted California Book Award. With The One, Smith profiles one of the 20th century’s most innovative musical icons, the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown. Drawing on extensive research and captivating interviews, Smith chronicles Brown’s rise from abject poverty to the pinnacle of fame, while also detailing Brown’s work as a civil rights activist and entrepreneur.

©2012 R.J. Smith (P)2012 Recorded Books, LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Raleigh
  • greensboro, NC, United States
  • 01-06-13

pitiable, lovable, despicable,understandable

i've never been a hip-hop happening kind of a guy
pencil-neck white-bread suburban kid is closer to the truth
but james brown has fascinated me since i was a child

his penetrating funky hot-blooded music was like no other
but i sensed that there was more to the story than that
r.j. smith's story and kevin free's narration brought it to life

his horrible childhood invites pity / that he overcame it invites love
the way he treated women and co-workers makes him seem despicable
but at the end of this great book i felt i understood him as a person

what makes the story profound is its' uniquely american foundation
james brown never apologized for who he was or where he was from
he just wanted respect and a spot at the table / he more than earned it

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Why he became the hardest working man in show biz.

An illuminating look at how James Brown became an icon of the 60s, a musical pioneer, and an eccentric character frequently in trouble with the law. Complex, thorny, and very much a product of the time and place he was born into, James Brown became a musical revolutionary and a player in the civil rights movement despite a childhood of deprivation. This book is a welcome investigation into the life of a man who has still never gotten his due as a musician and band leader, and a man for whom success was never enough to erase the effects of a life lived as a poor African American in the early part of the 20th century. Well written, well read, and well worth the time it takes to listen.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful