Comrade Rockstar: The Life and Times of Dean Reed, the All-American Boy Who Brought Rock 'n' Roll to the Soviet Union

Reggie Nadelson, Author . Walker $14.95 (333p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1555-5

Journalist and thriller writer Nadelson tells the life story of Dean Reed, "the Johnny Cash of Communism," and of her own investigation into Reed's life, in a book that, while always fascinating, has trouble walking the line between memoir and biography. The details—of how Colorado-born Reed lived and sang in South America and the eastern bloc and became a star of Elvis-like proportions there—are relayed in a clear and often captivating manner. When the author opines on her personal journey to discover and understand Reed, the narrative is often awkward ("my metaphors collided and crashed: none of them any good") and the findings are sometimes naïve ("In the end, the Soviets had not wanted to nuke us; they just wanted to listen to our music"). As "a kind of travel book through a now half-lost time and place"—the time being the '60s, the place being the U.S.S.R.—the book is absorbing. And though there are speed bumps (weak images and an oversimplification of complex political events), as the mysteries of Reed's suspicious death begin to unfold toward the end, the author's strengths become apparent, making Reed all the more exciting. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/10/2006
Release date: 06/01/2006
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