May 27, 2021

Jonathan Taplin

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes JONATHAN TAPLIN—celebrated writer, film and music producer, and author of the award-winning Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy—for a discussion of his memoir The Magic Years: Scenes from a Rock-and-Roll Life. He will be joined in conversation by bestselling writer KURT ANDERSEN, author of Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America and True Believers: A Novel.


Jonathan Taplin’s extraordinary journey has put him at the crest of every major cultural wave in the past half century: he was tour manager for Bob Dylan and the Band in the ’60s, producer of major films in the ’70s, an executive at Merrill Lynch in the ’80s, creator of the Internet’s first video-on-demand service in the ’90s, and a cultural critic and author writing about technology in the new millennium. His is a lifetime marked not only by good timing but by impeccable instincts—from the folk scene to Woodstock, Hollywood’s rebellious film movement, and beyond. Taplin is not just a witness but a lifelong producer, the right-hand man to some of the greatest talents of both pop culture and the underground.

With cameos by Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Martin Scorsese, and countless other icons, The Magic Years is both a rock memoir and a work of cultural criticism from a key player who watched a nation turn from idealism to nihilism. Taplin offers a clear-eyed roadmap of how we got here and makes a convincing case for art’s power to deliver us from “passionless detachment” and rekindle our humanism.

About Author(s)

Jonathan Taplin is an author and director emeritus of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab. Taplin’s book Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy, published by Little, Brown & Company, was nominated by the Financial Times as one of the Best Business Books of 2017. Taplin has produced music and film for Bob Dylan and the Band, George Harrison, Martin Scorsese, Wim Wenders, Gus Van Sant, and many others. He was the founder of Intertainer, the first streaming video-on-demand platform in 1996.

Kurt Andersen is a writer. His latest book Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America (2020) is about how U.S. society was re-engineered to serve big business and the well-to-do at the expense of everyone else. It was a New York Times bestseller, like its companion volume Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, his prize-winning history of America's weakness for exciting untruths. In addition, he’s the author of four critically acclaimed, bestselling novels—You Can't Spell America Without MeTrue BelieversHeyday, and Turn of the Century. Andersen also writes for television and the stage, appears regularly on MSNBC and as a contributor to the New York Times.