America’s Instrument The Banjo in the Nineteenth Century by Philip F. Gura and James F. Bollman (review)

America's Instrument The Banjo in the Nineteenth Century by Philip F. Gura and James F. Bollman (University of North Carolina Press, 1999)

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America’s Instrument The Banjo in the Nineteenth Century by Philip F. Gura and James F. Bollman (review)

by Mark Roberts
Southern Cultures, Vol. 6, No. 3: Fall 2000

University of North Carolina Press, 1999

In America’s Instrument Philip Gura and James Bollman take a fascinating look at the banjo, telling the story of how the primitive gourd instrument that was brought here by enslaved Africans captured the imagination of Victorian America. This beautiful book demonstrates how the changes of the post-Civil War marketplace brought about the evolution of the instrument, and it is most effective in the way various collections of banjo memorabilia illustrate the authors’ points. Of particular interest are striking color photographs of some extremely rare instruments and reproductions of antebellum photographs.