Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Death of a Rebel

Death of a Rebel, unavailable for nearly a decade, returns in this updated, revised, and expanded edition. The controversial biography which the New York Times Book Review called "moving," Greil Marcus praised in Rolling Stone as "fascinating," Variety called "excellent," and the San Francisco Chronicle termed "a remarkable book," has become the primal reference on the life and times of Phil Ochs, sixties rebel/social commentator/student activist/street socialist/poet/pop star and disturbed child of an America gone war-crazy and assassination-insane.

Praised by the Village Voice for possessing "a bittersweet, ironic voice that recalls both Nathanael West and Bertolt Brecht," and by London's Melody Maker for his combination of "Beatles' musicality and Dylan's poetry," Ochs galloped into the sixties riding musical shotgun to Dylan's lyric Marxmanship. With a major recording contract in his pocket, sell-out concerts, and notoriety in the "straight" press for his outspoken political views, it seemed nothing would prevent Phil Ochs's becoming a major star of the decade that wrote the book on rock, roll, and rebellion. And yet, at the height of his popularity, suddenly it was over, in the ashes of Chicago '68 and in J. Edgar Hoover's personally supervised FBI campaign of constant surveilance, harassment, and professional blacklisting.

What brought him down from the pinnacle of commercial and artistic success to the back alleys of his own despair, from the recognition on the international concert scene to the anonymity of jail cells and mental hospitals? What led him from the murderous satire of his best songs to suicide a block from his childhood home? Death of a Rebel is the depiction of that graceless fall, a portrait of an original American troubadour and the price he paid for trying to be a left-wing Elvis Presley in the days of rage in the age of Richard Nixon.

Presented here for the first time are new facts and documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act that prove Ochs was a target of Hoover's FBI, a thoroughly updated discography, previously unavailable photographs, and several new interviews not available for the original publication. This edition of Death of a Rebel presents the fullest depiction yet of one of the most talented, enigmatic, and tragic American pop-culture icons who ever raised a voice to sing, a fist to protest, and a generation's consciousness.

Marc Eliot has written four other books, including Rockonomics: The Money Behind The Music. He lives in New York City and Palenville, New York, and is presently at work on a novel to appear next year.

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