Q&A With Sean Wilentz on Time.com

Historians in the News

Princeton professor Sean Wilentz has forgone his usual subjects — the political historian and occasional journalist has written books such as The Age of Reagan and The Rise of American Democracy — to focus instead on something entirely different: Bob Dylan. His new book, Bob Dylan in America tackles the legendary musician with the same amount of meticulous attention to detail as one might expect from one of Wilentz's uber-historical tracts. He traces Dylan's influences across wide swaths of 20th-century history and culture — from the socialist movement of the 1930s to Bing Crosby's Christmas carols — to explore his place in America, and America's place in his music. (See pictures of Bob Dylan.)

Let's get one thing straight. This is not a biography of Bob Dylan.

No, not at all. I never wanted to write a biography of Dylan because there are so many good ones already out there. This focuses on his influences and the way he has drawn from different aspects of American culture....

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