Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco
by Peter Shapiro
Faber and Faber. 369 pages, $17.
AN AUTHOR who promises the “secret” history of anything sets the bar pretty high. There’s an implication that what waits between the covers is insider information previously known to only a few—there’s even a hint of the salacious. Of course, marketing departments love this kind of stuff. Most readers take such claims with a healthy dose of skepticism, so the author had better deliver. For the most part, Shapiro does. Turn the Beat Around is comprehensive, lively, and engaging. It’s grounded in solid cultural and social history that provides an illuminating context for the subject. Best of all, it’s fun!