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Book Review

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Excerpt: "These two recent studies demonstrate the growing academic interest in the history and development of the banjo, and both make intriguing-if sometimes difficult- reading for banjo devotees.

In the years just before the Civil War, the banjo was popularly associated with African-American slaves and with their black-faced imitators, professional minstrel show players. But it was also a popular instrument among white amateur musicians-so popular, in fact, that a single banjo tournament in New York City in 1857 drew over 3000 fans to support their neighborhood favorites. Beginning at this point, Karen Linn's That Half-Barbaric Twang studies the pubic perception of the banjo-its complex and changing image in American culture."


Originally published in Five-String Quarterly 2.3 (September 1996): 30-1.