cover image Punk Revolution!: An Oral History of Punk Rock Politics and Activism

Punk Revolution!: An Oral History of Punk Rock Politics and Activism

John Malkin. Rowman and Littlefield, $34 (360p) ISBN 978-1-53817-172-1

Journalist Malkin debuts with a riveting insiders’ history of punk’s charged relationship with social change, collecting interviews with some of the genre’s biggest names (including members of the Ramones and the Sex Pistols) and intellectuals with links to the music (such as Noam Chomsky, who recorded an eight-minute analysis of the Gulf War for Bad Religion’s 2001 album New World Order: War #1). The discussions unpack how punk music challenged war, white supremacy, police brutality, and political violence, from the Clash’s 1981 Sandinista, which tackled “the so-called Cold War” in “Ivan Meets GI Joe,” to Pussy Riot’s 2020 release of “Rage,” a vivid, impassioned critique of Russian political repression. Punk’s revolutionary links haven’t always been straightforward, however. When the Vandals performed for American troops in Iraq in 2004, some criticized the band for their ostensible support of the Bush administration’s war efforts, while others read a sly critique in their rendition of the theme song from Team America: World Police, a movie with a “clear antiwar message.” Malkin supplements the impressive array of interviews with comprehensive background analysis, and energizes the proceedings with his clear passion for the topic. Punk fans will find this a gold mine. (June)