I originally got this book because I wanted to learn more about Scott Joplin's opera _Treemonisha_. I appreciated that Mr. Scherer took the time to contextualize the breadth of Joplin's work when I could find few other resources that did. That attention to the forgotten and underappreciated contributors to American music is one of the strengths and joys of the book. I have learned a great deal about composers and musicians of whom I knew little. As well, Mr. Scherer nicely explains the political, social and cultural background that helped to shape them and their music. (Surprisingly, it acted as a nice history review, reminding me of key events like the War of 1812 and showing how they were linked to other events during that time period.)
Mr. Scherer's writing style is engaging. While he clearly has a scholarly understanding of his subject, he speaks in laymen's terms with a passion for the material that cannot help but elicit an enthusiastic response. I plan to incorporate some of the music into my high school American Lit classes. I'd like to give my students a broader understanding of the periods that we study. Overall, this is a great resource, and I'm glad that it's a part of my library.