Oral history ties the general icon to the specificity of the world. It does this by taking the abstract giant, a creature of an agreed-upon narrative that everyone knows, and sourcing that figure to many voices speaking from multiple perspectives. It’s history from the grassroots, and the grass knows everything. Roger Steffens’ new book, So Much Things to Say, ties Bob Marley, the Jesus of Reggae, to the slums of Kingston, Jamaica. Steffens’ text reminds us of an icon’s embedded nature, enmeshed in tentacles of circumstance. In history, some figures stand out like tall trees. Popular wisdom usually has no explanation, except to say, “Isn’t it funny that happened?” But oral history shows the rootedness of such titans. If you know where one originated, you can trade belief in a single, miraculous figure for the certain knowledge that whatever conditions produced the miracle must have been miraculous as well. For full story click here.