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Johnny Cash was an American icon, known for his level, bass-baritone voice and somber demeanor, and for huge hits like “Ring of Fire” and “I Walk the Line.” But he was also the most prominent political artist in the United States, even if he wasn’t recognized for it in his own lifetime, or since his death in 2003.
Then and now, people have misread Cash’s politics, usually accepting the idea of him as a “walking contradiction.” Cash didn’t fit into easy political categories—liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, hawk or dove. Like most people, Cash’s politics were remarkably consistent in that they were based not on ideology or scripts but on empathy—emotion, instinct, and identification.
Drawing on untapped archives and new research on social movements and grassroots activism, Citizen Cash offers a major reassessment of a legendary figure.
Michael Stewart Foley is a historian of American political culture. He is the author or editor of seven other books, including the prizewinning Confronting the War Machine: Draft Resistance During the Vietnam War, Front Porch Politics: The Forgotten Heyday of American Activism in the 1970s and 1980s, and the 33 1/3 book on punk band Dead Kennedys’ political masterpiece, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. He has served as historical advisor on a number of films and television shows, including Mad Men, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, the Boston Sunday Globe, and the Daily Beast, among other news outlets. He is Professor of American Civilization at Université Grenoble Alpes in France.
Michael Kazin is a Professor in the Department of History. He is an expert in U.S. politics and social movements, 19th and 20th centuries. His most recent book is War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918 which was named an Editor's Choice by the New York Times Book Review and was awarded the Elise M. Boulding Prize for the best book in peace history by the Peace History Society. His previous books include American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation, which was named a Best Book of 2011 by The New Republic, Newsweek/Daily Beast, and The Progressive. He is currently writing a history of the Democratic Party, to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.