By Jeff Dayton-Johnson
R.J. Smith’s new biography of “the hardest working man in show business,” The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, digs deeply into Brown’s music. The book furthermore situates Brown’s story in its historical and geographical context. Readers will come to know the rural and urban Southern societies where he was born and raised, as well as the relationship between Brown’s life and the larger story of racism and the struggle for civil rights.
Few commercial superstars in any medium could claim to be as radically innovative as Brown. This new biography returns Brown the artist to center stage in exhaustively researched yet witty and accessible prose.