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A leading historian argues that Johnny Cash was the most important political artist of his time

Johnny Cash was an American icon, known for his level, bass-baritone voice and somber demeanor, and for huge hits like “Ring of Fire” and “I Walk the Line.” But he was also the most prominent political artist in the United States, even if he wasn’t recognized for it in his own lifetime, or since his death in 2003.

Then and now, people have misread Cash’s politics, usually accepting the idea of him as a “walking contradiction.” Cash didn’t fit into easy political categories—liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, hawk or dove. Like most people, Cash’s politics were remarkably consistent in that they were based not on ideology or scripts but on empathy—emotion, instinct, and identification.

Drawing on untapped archives and new research on social movements and grassroots activism, Citizen Cash offers a major reassessment of a legendary figure.

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