Pursuing Julian's career cost the elder Bream dearly.
Button rightly notes that, despite his fame as a performer, Bream remains largely an enigma.
There the reader is privileged to glimpse the teenaged Bream, then a student at the Royal College of Music, spending afternoons in the British Museum transcribing tablature from the original sources, and evenings in his room playing through these new discoveries.
In his conversations with Palmer, the mature Bream outlines the basic structure of his recitals: selections of Elizabethan lute music, works by Johann Sebastian Bach transcribed for guitar, classical and romantic works for guitar, at least one challenging and usually astringent contemporary piece, and then a reward to the audience in the form of a group of Spanish or South American pieces.
In the end, Bream himself, before and after more than three decades of adulthood, emerges as the most interesting subject illuminated by comparison.
The dozens of photographs in Palmer's book propel the reader to the world of a forty-eight-year-old Bream as if by fastforward.