Alice Echols's history of disco is a useful academic assessment of the state of disco and the many conventional wisdoms, often contradictory, that have clung to it since the '70s. She charts the basic rise and fall through the nightclubs, and the embrace of disco by marginalized American social groups such as African-Americans, women, and gays, finally arriving at the commercial debacles that followed the grimly persistent "Disco Sucks" campaigns of the late '70s and then the usual arguments that disco never went away, which I happen to subscribe to also. Echols is well suited to the task, as an academic with interests in American studies and history, and also as a long-time DJ in and around Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan. She devotes chapters to each of the social groups, with two for gays and another one on the movie Saturday Night Fever, which in many ways represents the watershed commercial milestone moment for the music—or, really, for the word "disco." The general shape of this history was well known to me, but there were many interesting revelations along the way. I hadn't known, for example, how much Chic looked to Roxy Music for a kind of formal inspiration. In many ways disco is a prototypical story of American social norming, with underclass groups providing cultural vitality as a means to mainstream acceptance. One refraction is that disco did not succeed until John Travolta made it safe for straight white men. Another is that these same straight white men simply could not handle such intimate acquaintance with dangerous subversive minorities, rising up to reject it with uncontrolled, unconscious violence. Hmm, something about this feels so familiar. Echols has no particular axe to grind. She just likes the music and here tries to solve the mystery of how it could rise so high, yet fall so low, enduring a cultural exile that still seems remarkable, not least for the way the music itself simply continued on, under new names: dance music, DOR, techno, electronica, etc., etc. Chockful of notes, sources, and recommended songs (some new to me and nice finds), it's a terrific summary of one key strand of pop music that continues to play on and affect everything.