Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong just got a rave from Shelf Awareness: Daily Enlightenment for the Book Trade, an influential e-mail industry newsletter:
An exhilarating biography of an American original that also charts the way the U.S. and popular entertainment changed from 1921 to 1971….
With wit, authoritative musical knowledge and solid research, Terry Teachout lovingly chronicles Armstrong’s career delivering happiness from his emergence in 1921 as a premier New Orleans jazz musician through his later fame as a popular entertainer…
In public, Armstrong ignored his critics because, as he stated, “showmanship does not mean you’re not serious.” In the privacy of his own home, though, he was more candid. Using Armstrong’s personal writings and hours of tape recordings, Teachout reveals the scathing opinions Pops held of those knocking him and his success.
Audiences may have seen Armstrong as perennially happy and uncomplicated, but Teachout makes us aware of many crises behind the scenes. He discusses the influence of mobsters in jazz clubs and dance halls, the demeaning daily reality of segregation during Armstrong’s early touring years and the in-fighting among leading jazz performers….
Read the whole thing here.
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More bookshelf sightings: as of this morning, you can find Pops at Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Massachusetts, and five copies were on the shelves last night at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., where I’ll be speaking in January. Watch this space for details.