Ain't Nothing but A Man

Ain't Nothing but A Man

My Quest to Find the Real John Henry

Book - 2008
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Who was the real John Hendry? The story of this legendary Afican-American figure has come down to us in so many songs, stories, and plays, that the facts are often lost. Historian Scott Nelson brings John Henry alive for young readers in his personal quest for the true story of the man behind the myth. Nelson presents the famous folk song as a mystery to be unravelled, identifying the embedded clues within the lyrics, which he examines to uncover many surprising truths. He investigates the legend and reveals the real John Henry in this beautifully illustrated book. Nelson's narrative is multi-layered, interweaving the story of the building of the railroads, the period of reconstruction, folk tales, American mythology, and an exploration of the tradition of work songs and their evolution into blues and rock and roll. This is also the story of the author's search for the flesh-and-blood man who became an American folk hero; Nelson gives a first-person account of how the historian works, showing history as a process of discovery. Readers rediscover an African-American folk hero. We meet John Henry, the man who worked for the railroad, driving steel spikes. When the railroad threatens to replace workers with a stream-powered hammer, John Henry bets that he can drive the beams into the ground faster than the machine. He wins the contest, but dies in the effort.
Publisher: Washington, D.C. : National Geographic, c2008.
ISBN: 9781426300011
Branch Call Number: j 973.0496 HENRY J
Characteristics: 64 pages : illustrations ; 29 cm.
Additional Contributors: Aronson, Marc


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Was John Henry, who beat a steam drill in a contest but then died, a tall tale? Or was he a real man? Author Nelson recounts his attempt to find out the truth.


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