5 Books Published by Birlinn on Our Site — Book Cover Mosaic

Click for more detail about Harlem 69: The Future of Soul by Stuart Cosgrove Harlem 69: The Future of Soul

by Stuart Cosgrove
Polygon (Jun 12, 2019)
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Book 3 in The Soul Trilogy

Harlem, 1969, and the vibrant community around 125th Street is rife with creative innovation. Troubled genius Donny Hathaway, bandleader King Curtis, and Miles Davis and his visionary wife Betty Mabry are reinventing black music. Jimi Hendrix is staging a benefit concert in support of the Biafran famine victims, and helping him behind the scenes is flamboyant indie label owner and heroin kingpin, Fat Jack Taylor. The Apollo Theater is bringing the best of soul music to the crowded streets, and at the height of a blistering summer Harlem plays host to Black Woodstock, a series of free concerts starring Sly and the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone.

Meanwhile, a city-wide raid has led to the arrest of 21 members of the Black Panther Party — and ultimately to one of the most controversial trials of the era — and a heroin epidemic is spiralling out of control. Young people are dying on the streets of Harlem faster than the body count in Vietnam.

Harlem 69 has all the trademarks of its predecessors — deep research, compelling storytelling and a keen awareness of social change — and maps out how Harlem became the genesis of future musical forms including jazz-funk, psychedelic soul, disco, boogie, rap and hip-hop amidst intense social change.

Stuart Cosgrove’s critically acclaimed trilogy began with Detroit 67 and was followed by Memphis 68, which won the Penderyn Prize for Music Book of the Year in 2018. Harlem 69 brings his epic story of sixties soul to its triumphant conclusion.


Click for more detail about Memphis 68: The Tragedy of Southern Soul by Stuart Cosgrove Memphis 68: The Tragedy of Southern Soul

by Stuart Cosgrove
Polygon (Jun 12, 2018)
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Book 2 in The Soul Trilogy

Winner of the Penderyn Music Book Prize 2018

In the 1950s and 1960s, Memphis, Tennessee, was the launch pad of musical pioneers such as Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Al Green and Isaac Hayes, and by 1968 was a city synonymous with soul music. It was a deeply segregated city, ill at ease with the modern world and yet to adjust to the era of civil rights and racial integration. Stax Records offered an escape from the turmoil of the real world for many soul and blues musicians, with much of the music created there becoming the soundtrack to the civil rights movements.

The book opens with the death of the city’s most famous recording artist, Otis Redding, who died in a plane crash in the final days of 1967, and then follows the fortunes of Redding’s label, Stax/Volt Records, as its fortunes fall and rise again. But, as the tense year unfolds, the city dominates world headlines for the worst of reasons: the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King.


Click for more detail about Young Soul Rebels: A Personal History of Northern Soul by Stuart Cosgrove Young Soul Rebels: A Personal History of Northern Soul

by Stuart Cosgrove
Birlinn (Mar 24, 2017)
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Nothing will ever compare to the amphetamine rush of my young life and the night I was nearly buggered by my girlfriend’s uncle in the Potteries…The opening line of Stuart Cosgrove’s Young Soul Rebel sets up a compelling and intimate story of northern soul, Britain’s most fascinating musical underground scene, and takes the reader on a journey into the iconic clubs that made it famous - The Twisted Wheel, The Torch, Wigan Casino, Blackpool Mecca and Cleethorpes Pier - the bootleggers that made it infamous, the splits that threatened to divide the scene, the great unknown records that built its global reputation and the crate-digging collectors that travelled to America to unearth unknown sounds.

The book sweeps across fifty years of British life and places the northern soul scene in a social context - the rise of amphetamine culture, the policing of youth culture, the north-south divide, the decline of coastal Britain, the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry, the rise of Thatcherism, the miners’ strike, the rave scene and music in the era of the world wide web.Books have been written about northern soul before but never with the same erudition and passion.

Young Soul Rebel nails a scene that is as popular today as it was in its heyday in the 1970s.


Click for more detail about Detroit 67: The Year That Changed Soul by Stuart Cosgrove Detroit 67: The Year That Changed Soul

by Stuart Cosgrove
Polygon (Oct 03, 2016)
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Book 1 in The Soul Trilogy

Detroit 67 is the story of Motor City in the year that changed everything. Twelve chapters take you on a turbulent year-long journey through the drama and chaos that ripped through the city in 1967 and tore it apart in personal, political and interracial disputes. It is the story of Motown, the break-up of The Supremes and the damaging disputes at the heart of the most successful African-American music label ever.

Set against a backdrop of urban riots, escalating war in Vietnam and police corruption, the book weaves its way through a year when soul music came of age and the underground counterculture flourished. LSD arrived in the city with hallucinogenic power and local guitar band MC5 – self-styled holy barbarians of rock – went to war with mainstream America. A summer of street-level rebellion turned Detroit into one of the most notorious cities on earth, known for its unique creativity, its unpredictability and self-lacerating crime rates.

The year 1967 ended in social meltdown, rancour and intense legal warfare as the complex threads that held Detroit together finally unravelled.

Features the true story of Detroit, now a major motion picture.


Click for more detail about Coloured Lights by Leila Aboulela Coloured Lights

by Leila Aboulela
Polygon (Apr 15, 2001)
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Coloured Lights is the first collection of short stories from the winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing 2000, and it includes the winning story The Museum.