Book Reviews

Do It Again

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The last time Kinks frontman Ray Davies wrote a memoir, 1994's wonderfully weird X-Ray, he created an elaborate framing story set in a dystopian future Britain. His enjoyable follow-up, Americana (Sterling), is more straightforward. The frame is Davies' recovery from the gunshot wound that nearly killed him in New Orleans in 2004. The focus is the English singer's later career and his years in America.

The Kinks' songs have attracted admirers on both the left and the right, thanks to their mixture of nostalgia, rebelliousness, and barbs at both big business and big government; libertarians tend to enjoy their jabs at conformity, bureaucracy, war, and the welfare state. Americana offers Davies' most direct description of his politics. "I valued many traditional aspects of the past that are associated with conservatism," he writes, but "was never swayed to become a conservative." Instead he kept voting Labour, even though he thinks the party is "an outdated and somewhat ineffective force." —Jesse Walker