By John Leland
(Ecco, Hardcover, 9780060528171, 384pp.)
Publication Date: October 2004
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How an underground idea shaped American culture, from sex and music to race, fashion, drugs, commerce and the national rites of rebellion.
Hip: The History is the story of an American obsession. Derived from the Wolof word hepi or hipi ("to see," or "to open one's eyes"), which came to America with West African Slaves, hip is the dance between black and white -- or insider and outsider -- that gives America its unique flavor and rhythm. It has created fortunes, destroyed lives and shaped the way millions of us talk, dress, dance, make love or see ourselves in the mirror. Everyone knows what hip is.
This is the story of how we got here. Hip: The History draws the connections between Walt Whitman and Richard Hell, or Raymond Chandler and Snoop Dogg. It slinks among the pimps, hustlers, outlaws, junkies, scoundrels, white negroes, Beats, geeks, beboppers and other hipsters who crash the American experiment, and without whom we might all be listening to show tunes.
Along the way, Hip: The History looks at hip's quest for authenticity, which binds millions of us together in a paradoxical desire to be different. Because, as George Clinton said, "You can't fake the funk."
"John Leland combines diligent research with insight and wit."
-Paul Krassner, author of Murder at the Conspiracy Convention and Other Absurdities and editor of Magic Mushrooms and Other Highs: From Toad Slime to Ecstasy
"Hip: The History is the definitive work on the subject."
"John Leland covers it all in his essential book, Hip: The History."
"Hip: The History is the seminal work on the topic and a must read for all you hipsters!"
-Fab 5 Freddy
"An insightful chronicle of cool."
"What is hip? If you have to ask, ask John Leland."
-Joe Levy, Rolling Stone
"The New York Times' John Leland offers an incisive, entertaining look at this peculiarly American cultural notion..."