Dennis McNally Revisits Highway 61 (and Beyond)

October 8, 2014 10:08 PM

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Thirty-five years ago, a young American History PhD student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst converted his dissertation on Jack Kerouac into the book, Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation, and America. Almost immediately, the biography became widely praised as a landmark Kerouac work -- not just for its historical precision -- but because, for the first time, readers could understand this iconic, central and, at times, polarizing literary figure in a broader American cultural context. This was more than a book -- it was a way of understanding history and our place within it.

Desolate Angel soon found its way into the hands of Jerry Garcia -- a self-proclaimed Kerouac nut. So impressed by what he had read, Garcia tracked down the author, Dennis McNally, and asked a simple question: would he consider joining the Grateful Dead family as the band's official historian. McNal...

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