U2: Rock ’n’ Roll to Change the World

Timothy D. Neufeld. Rowman & Littlefield, $40 (208p) ISBN 978-1-4422-4939-4
First-time author Neufeld, a professor of biblical and religious studies at Fresno Pacific University, maintains that through an “ever-changing interplay of artistic expression and social engagement,” U2 has blended “spiritual faith and social activism since its 1980 debut album.” Going from the band’s early days in 1970s Dublin to its 2015 tour, Neufeld provides a detailed history of the band members’ growth as musicians and their various attempts at political and social activism. Sometimes, his observations are aptly concise: “While U2 in the 1980s had been consumed with global justice and conflicts in distant places such as El Salvador and South Africa, the U2 of the 1990s focused on the inner demons of greed, lust, addiction, and hypocrisy.” At other times, Neufeld is unrestrained in his belief in U2’s spiritual importance: “U2 has developed a unique integration of faith and culture that transcends traditional approaches to popular religious music by engaging the world.” Despite some bombast, Neufeld succeeds in his goal of showing how pop musicians can help shape culture. (Apr.)

This review has been corrected to fix a typo.

Reviewed on: 02/13/2017
Release date: 04/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 260 pages - 978-1-5381-1457-5
Open Ebook - 238 pages - 978-1-4422-4940-0
Ebook - 978-1-5381-2236-5
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