Book news

Over at southerngospelblog, Daniel Mount reviews Then Sings My Soul. Kudos to Daniel for turning around what may be the first post-publication review of the book.

As you might imagine, he is not, on the whole, impressed or compelled by what he read. He obviously spent considerable time with the book, and it’s equally obvious that he’s working hard in the review to appear as fair and evenhanded as he can. So I don’t assume he read the book primarily in search of evidence for what he already thought he’d find in it, or that he purposefully overlooked or misread or simply omitted any mention of those portions of the book that trouble his image of me as an imperious academic sneering my way through the world of southern gospel. But there were times in the review when I wondered what book he was reading and who wrote it.

Even so, the review’s actually better than I imagined it might be when I recommended that the publicist at the U of I send Mount a review copy, and I appreciate Mount’s having taken the time to engage the book with a review.

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  1. Dean Adkins wrote:

    I admire your response to Daniel’s review.

  2. Doug Sword wrote:

    Got my copy and plan to start reading it tomorrow

  3. BackwoodsPhilosopher wrote:

    My husband and I are reading the book now!

  4. RF wrote:

    Daniel had made up his mind before he read it. And it showed. My copy arrives tomorrow.

  5. John Crenshaw wrote:

    Dean expressed my thoughts exactly in the first post. A very classy response, Mr. Harrison.

    One of the frequent posters at Mr. Mount’s blog had this to say:

    “If Daniel, through this review, can keep a few people from getting the book that would have otherwise, then the review is well worth it.”

    Actually, it made me want to go out and buy the book as quickly as possible.

    Just reminds me of that old adage: “There is none so blind as he who will not even look.”

  6. Wade wrote:

    Since I am not sure DJM will allow my comments to be posted on HIS blog… here are my comments about his review. Sad how ppl who put themselves out there as Christian are really just HUNTING & SHOOTING the WOUNDED!!!

    Here ya go…


    Every one is entitled to their opinion thus your review.

    But to not mention his blog any where in the review seems a bit small!! Despite what you think about him I dare say it is the most widely read, real life, none fluff blog about SGM!! Most every one in the industry reads it and if they say they don’t or at least get reports about it I would call them a liar or not a real player!!

    He often mentions your blog and allows you to drop comments on there plugging your blog much!!!

    If truth were really known most of the ppl who USED to like liked it right up until the time he came out of the closet and more widely reveled who he was. I have been back over the blog and it was amazing the turn the blog took after that happened!!

    It is a WIDELY read because of the lack of an IRON FIST and openness in moderating the blog. Tough to survive and be like the communist countries trying to FILTER the web now days. Maybe as a historian you might consider how the proliferation of information greatly helped to bust up those walls.

    Lastly I would dare say he was far classier in actually posting about your review on his blog than you where IN your review of his book…and you are supposed to be the BIGGER Christian since I am sure you think homosexuals will not be in heaven!! May God be with You!!!

  7. quartet-man wrote:

    I wouldn’t go so far as saying that Daniel had his mind made up before he read it. Just because someone disagrees doesn’t mean they are close-minded or had their mind made up before. I get sick of this attitude that if someone disagrees it is either due to close-mindedness, hate, or stupidity. Can it just not be that they disagree? Sure, there are some who might fit those, but that is on both sides.

    Yes, Doug was gracious in his response. It sounds like that Doug expected worse in some ways, but realized that the traffic Daniel has is as such that a lot of people will read the review. Whether or not it causes them to buy it or not is hard to say. Many hadn’t heard of it anyhow and many who had probably wouldn’t have bought it anyhow.

  8. Wade wrote:

    Q- Man I agree ppl can disagree!!! But it is when during the disagreement they invoke you are wrong because GOD SAID and you are going to hell from it and they refuse to even stop after that and just continue time after time and brow beat ya in JESUS name is when it is BAD!!!

    You & I disagree on many things but for the most part now we agree to disagree!!! But I must tell you also… you are a great witness. I use to get angry about the things we disagree about but now I either respect your feelings and some things you have actually swayed me.

    People can not be brow beat into agreeing, especially on things of the heart or God!!! Human nature is to run the other way.

    But as far as Dr. DH NEEDING DJM… I would bet the traffic here is way more than there. Dr. DH COMPED DJM a book. When you write something or do something it is OK for certain ppl to bad mouth ya. DJM is one I would want to bad mouth me if I did anything like write a book or put on a show.. I mean concert. A person is known by WHO speak well or not of them!!!

    As predicted DJM did not have the stones to let my post go public!! NUFF SAID!!!

  9. yankeegospelgirl wrote:

    This is all amusing to me considering that Daniel actually said hardly anything about the homosexual issue. Good grief, he spent a huge chunk of it just on Aldine Kieffer…

  10. Wade wrote:

    Y’all don’t pass out, but yes Brooke GREAT POINT!!! It was because he was sensitive to being pounded directly about it… so he just let it OOOOZZZE through out the entire review!!! ;-)))

  11. irishlad wrote:

    Speaking of “When you look at me ” reminds of that other great song by Ken Turner’s daughter Kenna(get it?)Turner West(married to Dottie West’s son) “Ask me how” by L5, never heard Scott better and Gus was just goose bumps all the way.

  12. irishlad wrote:

    11 That comment was in response to DM’s review of Doug’s book.

  13. ode wrote:

    ha! As a certain US tourist said when visiting Louvre and starring at Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa: “That’s some fat ugly chick.” To me she is a plumpy girl with lovely facial features, wearing an ill-fitting bra and unattractive quarter-smile, painted by a genius; to art critics the portrait is everything from a masterpiece to overhyped mediocrity. Of course there will be variety of opinions on any work of art or writing.

    Why should it be praised by all? Wade is right.T’was nice of Daniel to express his opinion, but if that’s the worst review Doug gets, the book is a failure.As a popular saying by a legendary musician has it “you are not truly successful until you got a few death threats”. Lady Gaga is laughing all the way to the bank, so does JK Rowling. Some negative reviews and hate are absolutely the norm, on all books, be it a fiction, history, or a textbook.

    I know he didn’t write it for the money, but so far all goes as planned for Doug, imho.

  14. SteveSmith wrote:

    I would like to see Doug review DJM’s book he wrote a few years ago on the faith of the presidents.

  15. quartet-man wrote:

    #8, Wade. Thanks, but I am a fallible man. We have certainly had our tussles, haven’t we? :D I would type more and might later, but right now I have writer’s cramp from a previous post I did here. ;)

  16. RF wrote:

    I’m late in this, but I read most of the book in three days. I found it a scholarly work and not prejudiced by political leanings or by any of the present moral leanings that have become part of this divided country. After finally reading DM’s review which I feel was totally influenced by DH’s sexual orientation, I call shenanigans. Disagree if you want, but be fair. I didn’t see that. I enjoyed or have enjoyed it so far. Bravo, Avery.

  17. carl wrote:

    Not fair!

    You all getting the book early, I mean. apparently isn’t going to ship mine until the 15th. 

    I was about to say that Daniel Mount’s review of the book isn’t fair, either, but I decided not to  because it’s not a review of Doug’s book. It’s about the book Daniel Mount imagined it to be.

    For example, responding to one of the book’s central theses (the contribution of Kieffer in the development of the field), DM limits the definition of SG to his own criteria so that he can counter a couple of arguments that Doug didn’t in fact make. He counters those posited arguments with his own circular ones. For specific example, there’s DM’s business about current southern gospel being defined by traveling music groups, recording, and radio. Huh? Mount says that those things were pioneered by Vaughan. Double huh?  Give Vaughan his due but the 19th century history of musical ensembles, including male quartets, that traveled and sang to sell a product wasn’t restricted to gospel, and even for what we’d now call gospel groups, the pattern predates Vaughan. The history of commercial recording of gospel music didn’t start with him either. The combination of those two things with radio was a technological revolution in several places in the early 1920s in several music genres, and Vaughan was a pioneer. None of that, though, speaks to Doug’s point, but to DM’s assumption that Doug implies that Vaughan might not have the only big float in the pioneer parade.    

    Palaver about academic language is always good for those of us who write like that, but we write like that for really good reasons most of the time, not to make the meaning inaccessible. It’s what you expect when you put down your dime on the counter of an academic press. That aspect of style shouldn’t be a surprise. 

    It’s fair for DM to document his personal reaction; maybe not so fair to call out historical inaccuracies that aren’t.

    Speaking of which: I’m not quite sure what criteria DM used to gauge the relative importance of different 19th century shape-note publications. I was surprised by what looks like a basic misconception of the historical division between shape note systems (i.e., the earlier fasola tradition with 4 shapes and the later 7-shape systems). There are completely different social conventions and performance traditions associated with each. DM says that Doug would agree with him that “Sacred Harp has come to define southern congregational convention singing”.  Don’t think so: a basic fact of Doug’s narrative, somehow missed in what must have been a cursory reading, was that the system that Kieffer used and so successfully promoted was a clear break with the Sacred Harp (i.e., fasola) tradition.

  18. irishlad wrote:

    i never could get the shaped note idea, why take the bother? the notes were clearly on the staff line egbdf..every good boy deserves food..what could be simpler?

  19. Wade wrote:

    irishlad… shape notes are just a way a person with no real music education can be taught quickly… I am with ya… but it worked and got us broad exposure.

    Can you imagine trying to teach somebody with no real music training all about key signatures, the difference between bass and treble clefs??? How they REALLY run together??? etc

    Then you have a short hand for ppl that do have a music back ground like the Nashville Number System that REALLY would blow their minds!!!

    Shape Notes where Singing for Dummies!!! I’ve actually seen it in the yellow books that have at least became famous here in the US!!!

  20. irishlad wrote:

    19 with you my man. :)

  21. steve k wrote:

    Wait, Doug is gay?
    I must’ve missed that post. Oh well…

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