Gotham

James Brown led a fascinating and complex life as not only one of soul music's pioneers but also as an outspoken advocate during the height of the civil rights movement. R.J. Smith's biography of the late superstar, The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, delves into the life and legacy of a musician whose talent helped shaped popular music and whose personal life filled the headlines.

Smith interviewed more than 100 people to help tell the narrative of the Godfather of Soul, whose climb from a childhood of poverty to superstardom plays out like a real-life rags-to-riches tale.

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The One: The Life and Music of James Brown hits bookstores and the Internet March 15.

Previous recommendation: Lincoln Scholar Talks Proclamation in New Book.

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