Book Review: The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture and Style

It started off with a bang but ended with a fizzle. While there was some great historical context to the origins of Soul Train, Nelson George didn’t go any further than the surface for much of the book. It seemed as if it was written from an outsider-looking-in’s perspective. Don Cornelius is presented as this imposing, aloof father figure, but there is no real depth given to him. I understand that this is not his biography, but as the show’s creator, he deserved more than second and third-person accounts. I loved the dancer profiles, though they were somewhat superficial, until Nick Cannon’s, which lingered on for more than 3 pages. In fact, I learned more about Nick Cannon than I did about Don Cornelius. Go figure. Also, George relied heavily upon Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson for catchy quotes and perspective….too much, perhaps, especially toward the end of the book. I really wanted to love this book, but I can only say that I kinda sorta liked it. My great memories of Soul Train keep me from ranking this any lower.

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