AIN’T NOTHING BUT A MAN by Scott Reynolds Nelson
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AIN’T NOTHING BUT A MAN

My Quest to Find the Real John Henry
Age Range: 10 - 13
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KIRKUS REVIEW

With assistance from Aronson, a veteran author/editor and nabob of nonfiction, Nelson recasts his adult title Steel Drivin’ Man: The Untold Story of an American Legend (2006) into a briefer account that not only suspensefully retraces his search for the man behind the ballad, but also serves as a useful introduction to historical-research methods. Supported by a generous array of late-19th- and early-20th-century photos—mostly of chain-gang “trackliners” and other rail workers—the narrative pieces together clues from song lyrics, an old postcard, scattered business records and other sources, arriving finally at both a photo that just might be the man himself, and strong evidence of the drilling contest’s actual location. The author then goes on to make speculative but intriguing links between the trackliners’ work and the origins of the blues and rock-’n’-roll, and Aronson himself closes with an analytical appendix. It’s an eye-opening case study in how history and folklore can intertwine. (maps, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Dec. 11th, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-4263-0000-4
Page count: 64pp
Publisher: National Geographic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2007




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