The history, craft and voice of the six-stringed heart of American music.



Clapton's Guitar

By Allen St. John


Guitar god Eric Clapton had been on master guitar craftsman (and retired rural mail carrier) Wayne Henderson's waiting list for a decade before Henderson finally got started working on the rock legend's special order. Allen St. John chronicles the guitar maker's process, giving us a rare portrait of a painstaking genius and his methods of coaxing sonic beauty out of wood and metal.






Guitar: An American Life

By Tim Brookes


His guitar wrecked by airport baggage handlers, NPR Weekend Edition commentator Brookes sets off to find the perfect replacement. What he discovers is a fascinating ticket into pure Americana; from the arrival of conquistadors to the cultural and musical revolutions of the Fifties and Sixties. This highly personal history captures the way the guitar has come to symbolize America's restlessness and expressive spirit.





Guitar Man: An Amateur Strummer's Journey of Discovery

By Will Hodgkinson


All writer Will Hodgkinson wants is to learn to play the guitar passably enough to perform live. He gives himself six months to learn, but it's not all done with the pick in hand: in the course of his musical studies he travels the globe talking to guitar legends (Johnny Marr, Roger McGuinn) and soaking in the history of the Mississippi Delta and other legendary musical locales.





Instruments of Desire

By Steve Waksman


This crash course on the historical and cultural significance of the electric version of the instrument puts the essentials -- sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll -- right at its amplified heart. Steve Waksman begins in the thirties, with the evolving guitar's galvanizing effect on blues, and country, going on to chart what would emerge as rock. Along the way he riffs on the lives of some of the most influential electric players, including Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, and Jimmy Page.




Les Paul: In His Own Words 

By Les Paul and Michael Cochran


Les Paul, who died at 94 last summer, began the experimentation which would climax in his creation of the first solid-body electric guitar when he was a 13-year-old boy growing up outside of Milwaukee. His fertile mind spawned not only hit songs (recorded with his wife and musical partner Mary Ford) but many other inventions, such as multi-track recording, that changed the art and business of music-making permanently. Here, the "Wizard of Waukesha" puts a tuneful life into words.


April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.