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Ben RatliffMuch of this material has been covered in other books, though without so much synthesis and circumspection…Gioia uses original research, interviews with reliable sources and his own calm, argument-closing incantations to draw a line through a century of the Delta blues—a history that is probably more over than he cares to admit in his book's final pages. He has balanced the story of the music with that of its reception, and where the truth of either one is inaccessible, he says so. He's in favor of the blues retaining some mystery, but only highly informed mystery.
—The New York Times