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« An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore | Main | Field Notes from a Catastrophe, by Elizabeth Kolbert »


Dispatches from the Culture Wars, by Danny Goldberg

By an everyday book reader
March 1, 2007

Music industry insider and progressive activist Danny Goldberg has spent decades tuning in to the rhythms and voices that speak straight to the hearts and desires of America's youth. In that time, one fact has become increasingly clear: our venerable political leaders are tone deaf.

In this startling, provocative book, Goldberg shows how today's professional public servants have managed to achieve nothing less than the indefensible, wholesale alienation of an entire generation. Elvis has left the building -- and he's taken just about everybody under thirty with him.

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: How the Left Lost Teen Spirit
by Danny GoldbergBook Picture

Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN: 9780786868964, 0786868961
Miramax Books
June 2003

To anyone born after 1960, it's hard to imagine that there was a time in the United States when mass, popular culture actually helped to shape and advance the social agenda. When contemporary music and film were not greeted with arrogant disdain or willful incomprehension. When new forms of self-expression inspired our leaders to take action, not to demand censorship and warning labels. Danny Goldberg takes us into the trenches of the so-called culture wars to find out what caused this radical change in our national psyche.

He shines a spotlight on the conservative pundits and party leaders who are orchestrating dangerous attacks on civil liberties and youth culture. Granted, Goldberg doesn't expect an Ashcroft or Cheney to suddenly confess an appreciation for Nelly's lyrics or Pink's feminist ethos.

But what about the people who should be making every effort to bridge this cultural chasm -- liberal democrats? With intelligence and wit, Goldberg blasts the hypocrisy of all those who claim to speak for the very citizens -- mainly young Americans and black Americans -- whose culture they would prefer to sanitize and shrink-wrap. As a baby boomer, Goldberg is particularly disappointed in the failure of his own generation to reach out to younger people.

Goldberg has unique insight into the way business gets done in both Hollywood and Washington, D.C. For over four decades, he has worked closely with a vast number of great performers -- everyone from Led Zeppelin to Bruce Springsteen, from Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne to Kurt Cobain and rap impresario Russell Simmons.

As an activist, he's gone head-to-head with countless political figures, including Gary Hart, Michael Dukakis, Ronald Reagan, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Ralph Nader, Joseph Lieberman, and Al and Tipper Gore. From the intersection point of popular and political culture,

Danny Goldberg now issues a rousing call to reclaim our democracy, so that we might once again see ourselves -- and our children -- reflected in our leaders' words and deeds.

"It takes a while for the political content to kick into gear, but once broached, it never lets up. Here is that rare breed of book that can deconstruct gangsta rap as effectively as it analyzes the 1988 presidential election, a book in which Lenny Kravitz and Kurt Cobain have an equal footing with Joe Lieberman and John McCain. The long battle Goldberg helped wage against Tipper Gore over rock lyrics in the 1980s underscores many of the book's themes, such as the disconnect between politics and popular music and the 'arrogant sense of entitlement' among many powerful Democrats and leftists, which alienates young voters." - Publishers Weekly

"Rock, rap, reactionaries, and liberals all get a thrashing in Goldberg's insightful Dispatches from the Culture Wars." - Vanity Fair

His book is a sincere effort to rescue the progressive agenda from those who have 'grown increasingly elitist, snobbish, and removed from huge chunks of the American people.' In addition to its call to arms, though, this book is also an affecting memoir of his experiences within the clash of popular culture and politics. Surprisingly, most of Goldberg's battles have been with liberals who have sided with cultural conservatives, i.e., 'liberal snobs.' He is highly critical of the contemporary Democratic Party and what he calls the self-righteousness of Joe Lieberman." - Library Journal

"Goldberg authoritatively dissects the disconnect between progressive politics and younger voters." - Time Out New York

"Members of the DNC will want to study up on this one." - Kirkus Reviews


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