Peretti skillfully synthesizes decades of scholarship. He makes complicated music understandable by the layperson. He makes many insightful connections between African American music and its African antecedents. It is refreshing and rare (if not unprecedented) to see sections on classical, gospel, and avant-garde music referenced in the same context as blues, jazz, and soul music. And Peretti's analysis of the unequalled chart success of Michael Jackson's Thriller album is the best attempt I have seen to ascertain why the album resonates so strongly in African American culture and among audiences worldwide.