Mellencamp: American Troubadour is Now Available!

My new book, Mellencamp: American Troubadour, is now officially available from the University Press of Kentucky, and all book retailers.

Salon recently ran an excerpt, and it is already receiving high praise.

Part biography, part cultural and sociological commentary—with a touch of hagiography/fan nonfiction thrown in—Mellencamp is almost a new genre. Masciotra’s observations, contributions, and asides are apt and diverse. Both Mellencamp’s work and the man himself are deeper than they appear, and this book really shores this up. — Susan Compo, author of Warren Oates: A Wild Life

David Masciotra writes with the precision and integrity and humanity of a great journalist, one whose word you can trust. He knows his subject, and his prose and reporting are always informed by the lights of compassion and decency. — James Lee Burke, author of Wayfaring Stranger

For almost 40 years, John Mellencamp has been forging a path through the thickets of the music industry, meditating on the connections between rock, soul, folk and funk. In the process, he’s established himself as a major artist whose work is sometimes obscured by the shadows of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. In this detailed, loving book, David Masciotra shines the light of his critical intelligence on the connections between Mellencamp’s life, his music, and the commitment to a deeper understanding of our shared humanity. — Craig Werner, author of Up Around the Bend: An Oral History of Creedence Clearwater Revival

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New Essay for The Daily Beast on Noam Chomsky

In a new essay for the Daily Beast, I use the release of a new retrospective of Chomsky’s work as an opportunity to appraise his intellectual contributions and political activism. It is impossible to overstate the importance of Chomsky as a public intellectual, and his importance in my own development. The few criticisms I have of his analysis fall under the sizable shadow of his brilliance and bravery.

Read the essay here.

Major Announcement: New Book on Metallica’s The Black Album Coming from Bloomsbury Publishers

Bloomsbury Publishers recently announced that they will publish my book on Metallica’s self-titled record, more commonly known as The Black Album, as part of its much celebrated and acclaimed 33 1/3 series.

For the book, I have already interviewed the principal players in the making of the album, including current members of Metallica – James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and Kirk Hammett, former bassist Jason Newsted, and Metallica’s former producer, Bob Rock.

The book is a must read for Metallica, metal, and hard rock fans, as I will give up close and personal details, received personally from the band, into the making of The Black Album, and I will examine the importance of Metallica’s music, along with the philosophical depth it possesses.

For more information read the official announcement at the 33 1/3 page.

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Major Announcement: New Ebook now available on Amazon – “Against Traffic: Essays on Politics and Identity”

Readers who have followed my work since the publication of my first book, Working On a Dream: The Progressive Political Vision of Bruce Springsteen (Continuum Books), in 2010 have likely noticed that my politics have shifted in various directions. The role of any thoughtful and thinking person must include closely observing new developments in history, politics, and sociology, obtaining new information and insights, and adapting accordingly. Citizenship requires the citizen to always move like a quarterback in a scramble – ducking and dodging oncoming opponents, reacting with agility and speed to changes in the play, and remaining steadfast in the commitment to advancing one’s priorities and purpose.

In my new collection of essays, Against Traffic: Essays on Politics and Identity, I write about my own personal and political development, and how I escaped from the enclosed ideological cell of big government liberalism to find the free territory of individual freedom, neighborhood empowerment, and communal enlivenment. The new and exclusive title essay deals with the events that shaped my politics, and shows how I became a proponent of what Norman Mailer called “Left Conservatism.” I now take equally from the left and right, and I criticize both left and right – in the process claiming the inspiration of figures as diverse in range as Cornel West, Bob Dylan, Albert Camus, Gore Vidal, Stanley Hauerwas, Pope Benedict, and the aforementioned Norman Mailer. The new collection of essays demonstrates how a strong individual can move against traffic – creating one’s own identity and using one’s own intellect, heart, and spirit as cartographer.

Against_Traffic_book_coverMost of Against Traffic is new material – the grand title essay and an introduction, but the book also includes my previously published letter challenging President Obama’s supporters, and my previously published essays on the death of American Empire, and the “dangerous alliance of big business and big government.” It closes with my eulogy celebrating the life and career of Gore Vidal.

The description on Amazon is as follows:

Against Traffic: Essays on Politics and Identity is a compelling and provocative collection essays from one of America’s most versatile and forceful young writers. David Masciotra, who writes about pop culture for PopMatters, literature for the Daily Beast, politics for Front Porch Republic, and religion for Relevant, turns his clear eyes, powerful intellect, and large imagination toward the fiasco of American politics. What follows is a blistering attack on the clichés of the left and right, and the superficiality, tribalism, and frivolity of the American political scene.

In the title essay, Against Traffic, Masciotra takes readers through his deeply personal and political travels from the ideological trap of big government liberalism to the open ground of neighborhood empowerment, communal enlivenment, and what Norman Mailer called “Left Conservatism.” The essay also deals with the importance of literature, the arts, existential Christianity, and localism in the formulation of an edifying politics, citing figures as diverse as Albert Camus, Cornel West, Gore Vidal, and Pope Benedict.

Masciotra shoots through the delusions of most pundits by indicting both big government and big business. President Obama, the liberals who have defended his disastrous policies, and the Republican Party are all undressed as equally culpable in the destruction of the American community and family. The political solution that Masciotra offers will surprise and please anyone concerned about the maximization of freedom and the empowerment of the everyday person.

Against Traffic: Essays on Politics and Identity not only issues brilliant commentary on American politics, but also examines how independence, rebellion, and liberty are possible in an American culture committed to groupthink, party loyalty, and conformity.

Against Traffic, which in addition to the grand title essay includes an open letter challenging President Obama’s supporters, an examination of the death of the American Empire, an exploration of the “dangerous alliance between big business and big government”, and a eulogy celebrating the life and career of Gore Vidal, is a must read book for Americans fighting to free themselves from the shackles of America’s dysfunctional, and often diabolical, political system and culture.

It is a unique work of insight into how Americans can resist the restrictions of American politics, and live with strength, courage, and conviction.

Buy it now