THE MAN CALLED CASH: The Life, Love, and Faith of an American Legend

Steve Turner, Author . W Publishing $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8499-1820-9

Published in time for the first anniversary of Johnny Cash's death, this eminently readable biography of the Man in Black feels more honest about its subject than most authorized biographies, perhaps because Cash himself was more honest about his flaws and modest about his successes than many other public figures. Musical biographer Turner (Conversations with Clapton , etc.) leans heavily on interviews with Cash fans such as Larry Gatlin and Kris Kristofferson (who pens the foreword) and on quotations from songs Cash wrote, sang or both. The result is an affecting mosaic of oral history, poetry and memoir—concerning Cash himself, but also the era in which his music took root and thrived. Turner addresses Cash's drug and alcohol abuse, his failed marriage and his love for June Carter Cash with sympathy and fairness; he doesn't flinch from talking about how Cash's affair with June hurt his first wife, or about his struggle and relapses during his recovery from addiction. But something about this book seems one degree removed. Turner's interviews with Cash's family and friends are excellent, and tidbits such as Cash's reasons for wearing the famous black are priceless, but at times it feels like Turner is just guessing, as we all must, how this American legend really felt and what his life was like. (Sept.)

Correction: PW misstated the ISBN for Chicken Soup for the African-American Soul (Forecasts, Aug. 2). The correct ISBN is 0-7573-0142-8.

Reviewed on: 09/20/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7861-3671-1
Paperback - 299 pages - 978-0-8499-0815-6
Compact Disc - 180 pages - 978-0-8499-6377-3
MP3 CD - 978-0-7861-7974-9
Compact Disc - 978-0-7861-7776-9
Compact Disc - 978-0-7861-7696-0
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7861-3548-6
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