Thumbing through Richard Carlin's Country Music: The People, Places, and Moments that Shaped the Country Sound is a lot like strolling through the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. The 500 or so photos arrayed on the book's pages are big and bold and cover every aspect of the music: instruments; album, songbook and sheet music covers; candid and promotional shots; and movie and video stills. Carlin is a respected scholar. His text and annotations cover country music from its Civil War prehistory to such current stars as Rascal Flatts, Sugarland and Dierks Bentley (who also happens to be the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry). Spotted throughout the text are delightful thumbnail commentaries and not always kind ones on Country Classics, ranging from Home on the Range to Skin (Sarabeth). Photographer Raeanne Rubenstein provided many of the more recent photos.
Edward Morris is the former country music editor of Billboard and currently a contributor to CMT.com.