Books — March 20, 2023 at 9:02 am

New book “Maps and Legends” promises comprehensive history of R.E.M.

Image via Nottingham Press | Cover photo by Bob Crisler

The story of of one of college rock’s most foundational bands is told anew in John Hunter’s hefty biography “Maps and Legends: The Story of R.E.M.,” which chronicles the group from formation to first single “Radio Free Europe” up through swan song Collapse Into Now and beyond.

Publisher Nottingham Press calls the book “the most thorough and comprehensive biography of R.E.M. yet published.” The biography was released digitally as an e-book late last year by Apple Books, and a 706-page trade paperback is set to be published April 3, according to Nottingham Press.

It will be available via and Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi.

Hunter’s book explores the childhoods of future bandmates Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe, traces their musical evolution through their teenage groups like Bad Habits and Shadowfax and onto the formation of R.E.M. and subsequent global superstardom. Not only does the new biography trace R.E.M. through the band’s breakup in 2011, it delves into the solo work of Buck, Mills and Stipe.

Unable to interview the bandmembers — “The guys are through talking about themselves to biographers,” manager Bertis Downs told Hunter — the author scoured hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles about the band, listened to hundreds of audio and video interviews, and spoke to a variety of old friends, members of the R.E.M. inner circle, producers, label chiefs and other musicians.

Born in 1968 in Raleigh, North Carolina, Hunter as a teenager saw acts ranging from Black Flag, Hüsker Dü and The Replacements to The dB’s, Let’s Active and The Connells. He attended the University of Georgia in R.E.M.’s hometown of Athens from 1986 to 1991, and performed music at haunts including the 40 Watt Club.

“More so than any other biographer, he witnessed firsthand major events in R.E.M.’s career and in the larger Athens music scene during the second half of the 1980s,” Nottingham Press writes.





One Comment

  1. Scott D. Briggs

    Didn’t even hear about this tome until tonight, searching down some other titles on the band.
    I”m wary these days because there are so many poorly written and edited rock books coming
    out. Some of the worst offenders are by some of the artists themselves, I hate to say it.
    That new History of Goth is so rambling and poorly written, unprofessional. I refused to
    spend $50 for it at Barnes and Noble. Anyway, the reviews on Amazon for Maps and Legends seem to praise the book, uniformly, which I hope is a good sign. I’m going to order a copy asap.
    The last three truly great rock books I’ve read this past year were the two books on the Sisters
    Of Mercy (they both cover them through 1985), which are both essential, and the History of SST Records, Corporate Rock Sucks, which is fantastic. I’m a pro. writer and publishing professional,
    so I have little tolerance for bad books. That older book It Crawled From The South
    was a very good book on R.E.M., but it has since been surpassed, it seems.

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