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The Blood and the Blues

Authentic, 2009
RRP $22.95

Reviewed by John Ruhle, minister at The Gap Uniting Church.

The full title of this book is The Blood and the Blues: Daring Escapes, Dangerous Songs. The Legacy of Slavery’s Underground Railroad.
That in effect is the heart of the book.
The first section of the book is devoted to issue of slavery in America and the daring escapes that many people went through in order to find freedom in Canada and the north of America.
The second section relates to the legacy left by the songs that became synonymous with slavery in America.
One of the most significant pathways for slaves to escape was via an informal network of safe houses, trails through the bush and safe travel passages which came to be known as the Underground Railroad.
The Blood and the Blues tells the testimonies of many slaves and their journey to freedom via the Underground Railroad.
The legacy left by the songs of the slave period is explored in depth and particular reference is made to its direct impact on popular music over the past 50 years and tells of the lasting legacy of much of this music.
The Blood and the Blues was an eye opener for me and has given me a greater sense of the history of American slavery and the direct impact that time has had on popular culture today through music.
The book is written in a factual manner and is not a flowing read.
Rather it is a series of short stories all rolled into one to create a platform which allows the stories of escape and also the impact of the music to be told.