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Everyone knows the story of the Delta blues, with its fierce, raw voices and tormented drifters and deals with the devil at the crossroads at midnight. In this compelling book, Marybeth Hamilton radically rewrites that story. Archaic and primeval though the music may sound, the idea of something called 'Delta blues' emerged in the late twentieth century, the culmination of a longstanding white fascination with 'uncorrupted' black singers, untainted by the city, by commerce, by the sights and sounds of modernity. Written with exquisite grace and sensitivity, at once historically acute and hauntingly poetic, the book is an extraordinary excavation of the blues mystique and provides a deeper understanding of the place of blues within wider American culture.