Kill 'em and Leave

Kill 'em and Leave

Searching for James Brown and the American Soul

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Recounts the author's cultural journey in search of the man behind the legend of James Brown, discovering his rich musical legacy and the ongoing disputes surrounding his will as well as the complicated racial, music, and cultural factors that shaped hisstory.
Publisher: New York :, Spiegel & Grau,, [2016]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780812993509
Characteristics: xx, 232 pages ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Kill them and leave


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jul 16, 2016

I first saw James Brown in New York when I was a teenager, and I always admired his stage presence, musicianship and innovation. I was thirsting for a biography worthy of a man who, not a role model by any means, deserved a good one. Unfortunately, this is not worthy of him. The author is lazy, grinds his own axes, and writes in a sort of literary patois that adds nothing to the story of James Brown. Still looking for the right biography.

Jul 13, 2016

I read a lot of biographies of popular artists. Much of the factual stuff I tend to know from Rolling Stone and other media. What was great about this book was it truly dived deeper into the soul: the background, really unknown to me, the exceptional hardships heaped on African Americans in the South (and North). The standard 'touring' stuff, really, is just gossip, isn't it? The deeply personal accounts of the few that were close to the man showed depth. This book made James Brown an epic figure, even more so knowing his life.

Jul 06, 2016

I found this to be a repetitive, elliptical one-dimensional book. It's desperately in need of editing yet there's almost no meat on the bone. Interviews are scarce & most of the narrative consists of the author's ruminations on the well-documented violence inherent in white-dominated society & the capricious unfairness of the exploitative music industry. While his environment surely shaped James Brown there's a lot more to any person as there should be to a biography.

Jul 05, 2016

"Lemme tell you something, Rev. When you kill 'em, Rev, you leave. You kill 'em and leave. You understand that, son? Kill 'em and leave."-James Brown speaking to Al Sharpton
James Brown's contributions to R&B, soul, and rock are incalculable; if that's not enough, he pretty much invented a whole genre: funk. While his songs continue to be part of the pop culture landscape and there was a recent film about him, he's a misunderstood, even tragic figure, something that this incisive new book from author James McBride ("The Good Lord Bird") makes clear. It's less a typical biography, which is refreshing, and more an investigation (or search for, as the subtitle indicates) of Brown and soul music. Born into crushing poverty in the South, Brown served time as a juvenile before finding music and joining the Famous Flames, with whom he'd make his first recordings. McBride's a musician so devotes more time than many biographers to the technical aspects of Brown's music and gives special consideration to the crack musicians he surrounded himself with, particularly horn players Fred Wesley and Pee Wee Ellis. The book is part the personal and musical triumphs of an icon, but also the trails of being a black man and Brown's personal problems, which included an often tense relationship with his band, a long series of wives and girlfriends, and a shifting musical landscape. When he died, he was a diminished figure, even though he's the most sampled artist of all time. As of this writing, his considerable estate is still being fought over. It's a great book about a great artist and anyone who cares about music should read it. Hit me.


Add a Quote
SnoIsleLib_BrianH Dec 08, 2016

"The entertainment world and politics are more similar than most realize. Every time I go to Los Angeles I am astounded by the similarities between Hollywood and Washington, DC: Money. Power, Influence. Sex. Scandals. Parties. Phoniness. Posturing. Communication as an aphrodisiac. The only difference , it seems, is that in LA the folks are prettier, whereas in DC, they pick your pocket with one hand while saluting the flag with the other. But the basics are the same: business and power."

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at PPL

To Top