Review: ‘Kill ‘Em and Leave’ by James McBride

James McBride is an award winning author who took on writing about James Brown. This was by no means an easy feat since the man always had something going on for decades. Kill ’Em and Leave: Searching For James Brown and the American Soul is a well-researched, well-written, and an all around great book. Now I’ll admit, I’ve never been much of a James Brown fan, but I am aware of his music. It’s hard not to be when he was such a prominent figure in the music industry. I just enjoy reading about music and the business in general. This book was a perfect blend of the two.

With a wide range of topics to cover from his childhood, to his four wives, to the music, and much more, James McBride tied it all together in a nice, coherent way. It wasn’t split into specific sections and he blended everything together in a way that made you want to keep reading the book. James Brown was fascinating to begin with, but McBride’s attention to the details amplified that. The family provided crucial information, as did others who were close to Brown. Al Sharpton played a huge role in his life and that clearly showed in the book.

There aren’t enough words of praise for this book. I’m glad it was McBride who wrote it, despite not having read his previous books. He’s educated in music and I believe had a better understanding of the topic than your typical journalist or writer would have. The book didn’t drag on and didn’t include any fluff. When talking about music and artists, I love stories that get to the point and don’t drag on. This book showed the good and bad and gave as good of a picture of James Brown’s life as one could have hoped for. Kudos to James McBride for another stellar book under his belt.