Bradley Morgan, "U2's the Joshua Tree: Planting Roots in Mythic America" (Backbeat Books, 2021)


In U2's The Joshua Tree: Planting Roots in Mythic America (Backbeat, 2021) Bradley Morgan examines U2's iconic album and their critique of America as a symbol of hope. Through analysis of each track on The Joshua Tree, Morgan examines the 1987 release, the subsequent 2017 30th anniversary tour, and his own connection with the band and his Irish heritage. 

U2 planted the seeds for The Joshua Tree during an existential journey through America. As Irishmen in the 1970s, the band grew up with the belief that America was a place of freedom and prosperity, a symbol of hope and a refuge for all people. However, global politics of the 1980s undermined that impression and fostered hypocritical policies that manipulated Americans and devastated people around the world.

Originally conceived as "The Two Americas," The Joshua Tree was U2's critique of America. Rather than living up to the ideal that the country was "an idea that belongs to people who need it most," the band found that America sacrificed equality and justice for populism and fascism. This book explores the political, social, and cultural themes rooted in The Joshua Tree when it was originally released in 1987 and how those themes resonated as a response to the election of Donald Trump when U2 toured for the album's 30th anniversary.

Your Host

Rebekah Buchanan

Rebekah Buchanan is a Professor of English and Director of English Education at Western Illinois University. Her research focuses on feminism, activism, and literacy practices in youth culture, specifically through zines and music.

View Profile