Wednesday night, Broad Street Market hosted a book signing cel­e­brating the pub­li­cation of Pro­fessor of History Bradley Birzer’s latest book, “Neil Peart: Cul­tural Reper­cus­sions,” a biog­raphy ana­lyzing the life and con­tri­bu­tions of drummer Neil Peart, the backbone of the pro­gressive rock band Rush.

Faculty, stu­dents, and friends flooded Broad Street Market to give their praises, and discuss Bizer’s work.

For Birzer, Rush rep­re­sents more than a rock group, and Peart in par­ticular occupies a special place in his life.

“I was in detention in 7th grade,” Birzer remembers. “The two other guys I was in detention with knew I liked pro­gressive rock, so they asked me if I had heard of Rush, and I said no. I went out later that day and bought ‘Moving Pic­tures’, and it just clicked. Though I’ve never met him, he is kind of like a big brother figure to me.”

Bizer’s book attempts to offer a more holistic por­trait of Neil Peart. It assesses his overall intel­lectual and cul­tural impact.

“The book is basi­cally an expla­nation of Peart as a writer,” Birzer said. “He has written a number of travel books and some fiction in addition to his lyrics. I tried to tie all of that together to suggest that there is a coherent man of letters behind the drummer. He does so much more.”

While Peart is widely acknowl­edged as one of the most tal­ented and inno­v­ative per­cus­sionists of all time, few are aware of his lit­erary suc­cesses. Peart, in addition to being the primary lyricist for Rush, has pub­lished five books ranging in topics from science fiction to travel memoirs.

Birzer was offered the oppor­tunity to write about his idol while he was on sab­batical last year, living in Col­orado with his family.

Best-selling science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson, friend and pub­licist of Peart, lived nearby.

“When I went to Col­orado, one of my goals was to meet him, and we just hit it off,” Bizer said.

After expressing interest in writing a biog­raphy of Peart, Anderson later approached Birzer to write the piece. Birzer enthu­si­as­ti­cally accepted.

“I guess I’ve been thinking about writing this book since 1981, but I started it last Christmas and fin­ished it in June,” Birzer said.

Birzer has already written several biogra­phies, including works on Tolkien, Charles Carroll, and others scholarly figures. But, as a life-time Rush fan, his new book was a thrill to write.

“It’s not like the typical, scholarly biog­raphy he writes — it’s a lot more per­sonal,” Birzer’s wife, Dedra, said.

Reac­tions at the book signing were all pos­itive.

“It’s great that Brad can write about what he loves,”  said Pro­fessor of Theatre James Brandon. “When you’re an aca­demic, you get into the field because you really love stuff, and you don’t always get to work with it. That he can be a great aca­demic and his­torian, but also delve into some­thing that is an interest and real passion of his — it’s great.”

Lec­turer of History Miles Smith IV agreed: “I’m excited about it. I’m excited to have him back. Dr. Birzer is a scholar who can really tran­scend his dis­ci­pline of history using all sorts of other mythologies that lend them­selves them­selves to music and art.”

Overall, both stu­dents and faculty are glad to have Birzer back on campus, and his new book, “Neil Peart: Cul­tural Reper­cus­sions,” was cer­tainly a labor of love for Birzer. Peart would be proud.

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Kayla Stetzel
Kayla Stetzel has been reporting for the Collegian since 2013. She is resident of Ft. Wayne Indiana. She is a Marketing Management major with a focus in Law. When’s she’s not writing or studying case files, she’s keeping up to date with music industry news or volunteering with animals. She plans on attending law school with the intent of becoming an entertainment attorney. email: | twitter: @KaylaStetzel