Title: Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of America’s National Anthem
Author: Mark Ferris
Hardcover: ISBN: 9781421415185; $24.95
Imprint: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2104
“Nearly every American knows The Star-Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States of America. Yet many people dislike the song, contend that it glorifies militarism, and question its suitability as the musical embodiment of nationhood. Even professional vocalists have trouble singing the multi-octave melody and remembering the words. So why in 1931 did Congress designate it as the official national anthem, more than a century after Francis Scott Key put pen to paper?
Filled with fascinating, little-known facts drawn from a variety of primary sources, Star-Spangled Banner provides the first narrative history of this controversial song, which turns 200 years old in 2014. Marc Ferris’s lively account, which traces the evolution of the song’s instant popularity as well as its use and abuse by Americans of different political stripes, also explains the changing rituals surrounding the song, including the practice of standing—with hats removed and hand held over the heart—during public performances…
“An engaging, conversational, and meticulously researched study of The Star-Spangled Banner over its 200-year history. Historians will find great insight into the importance of music as a tool for historical inquiry; musicologists will welcome a serious study of song; and general readers will gain a larger understanding of the way humans use national symbols to construct and reinforce identity.”
— Susan Key, Star-Spangled Music Foundation
Read how Mark Ferris came upon the idea for writing his book “while sitting in a graduate history seminar at Stony Brook University” in A star-spangled path to writing a book
Tom is originally from Brooklyn N.Y but has spent his entire professional career in South Carolina, most recently as Head of Reference Services at the College of Charleston. As part of the Against the Grain and Charleston Conference team, he serves as the associate editor of the print ATG as well as the co-editor of the webpage. Tom’s conference duties include coordinating the Penthouse Suite interviews as well as the conference poster sessions.
He received his MLS from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and a second master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston and the Univ. of South Carolina. His wife Carol and he live in downtown Charleston and she is an artist and a tour guide offering historic walking tours of the city.