The author of books like Singing Cowboys and Musical Mountaineers, Malone (history, emeritus, Tulane Univ.) here presents a lucid study of the relationship between country music and the Southern working class. Delving into the history and sociology of such topics as country humor, the relationships between country music and politics, the urbanization of the South, and the contradictory tendencies in country music toward religion and rambling, Malone covers much ground. He obviously loves the music and understands its relationship to the people who originally gave it life. The casual fan of country music, especially contemporary commercial country music, might not find much of interest present-day "hat acts" have relatively little to do with Malone's subject but readers looking to go beyond today's stars and into the very heart and soul of the music will not be disappointed. Essential for anyone interested in a well-grounded and -researched overview of the topic, this thoughtful book is highly recommended for all public and academic libraries, especially those with strong popular culture collections. James E. Perone, Mount Union Coll., Alliance, OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.