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As Thousands Cheer: The Life Of Irving Berlin

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Irving Berlin (1888–1989) was unable to read or write music and could only play the piano in the key of F-sharp major; yet, for the first half of the twentieth century he was America's most successful and most representative songwriter, composing such hits as "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "Cheek to Cheek," "Let's Face the Music and Dance," "Puttin' on the Ritz," "White Christmas," "Anything You Can Do," "There's No Business Like Show Business," and "God Bless America." As Thousands Cheer, winner of the Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award, explores with precision and sensitivity Berlin's long, prolific career; his self-doubt and late-blooming misanthropy; and the tyrannical control he exerted over his legacy of song. From his immigrant beginnings through Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, and Hollywood to his reclusive and bitter final years, this definitive biography reveals the man who wrote 1500 songs but could never quash the fear that, for all his success, he wasn't quite good enough.

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About the Author:
Laurence Bergreen is the author of acclaimed biographies of James Agee and Al Capone. A writer for numerous publications, including Esquire, Newsweek, New York Times, and American Film, he lives in New York City.
From Library Journal:
Irving Berlin has long been recognized as one of this century's greatest popular composers, yet no book until this one has brought to life every level of this complicated man's personality. Bergreen, author of the acclaimed James Agee: A Life ( LJ 6/15/84), begins with an evocative description of the 1893 immigration of Berlin's family from Russia to the lively Jewish neighborhood of New York's Lower East Side. Berlin went on to write some of the great anthems of his generation. Though Bergreen has tremendous admiration for his subject, he is hard-hitting and explicit about Berlin's failings. Indeed, some readers may be uncomfortable with the author's portrayal of the composer as the tormented show business near-equivalent of Howard Hughes. Yet Bergreen never loses sight of Berlin's basic genius. Recommended for most collections, this compelling book will remain the standard for many years.
- Daniel J. Lombardo, Jones Lib., Inc., Amherst, Mass.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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