Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 475 pages
35 Reviews

Louis Armstrong was the greatest jazz musician of the twentieth century and a giant of modern American culture. He knocked the Beatles off the top of the charts, wrote the finest of all jazz autobiographies - without a collaborator - and created collages that have been compared to the art of Romare Bearden. The ranks of his admirers included Johnny Cash, Jackson Pollock and Orson Welles. Offstage he was witty, introspective and unexpectedly complex, a beloved colleague with an explosive temper whose larger-than-life personality was tougher and more sharp-edged than his worshipping fans ever knew.

Wall Street Journal arts columnist Terry Teachout has drawn on a cache of important new sources unavailable to previous Armstrong biographers, including hundreds of private recordings of backstage and after-hours conversations that Armstrong made throughout the second half of his life, to craft a sweeping new narrative biography of this towering figure that shares full, accurate versions of such storied events as Armstrong's decision to break up his big band and his quarrel with President Eisenhower for the first time. Certain to be the definitive word on Armstrong for our generation, Pops paints a gripping portrait of the man, his world and his music that will stand alongside Gary Giddins' Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams and Peter Guralnick's Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley as a classic biography of a major American musician.

  

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An excellent introduction to the man and his music. - Goodreads
Teachout's writing is overly florid and ornate. - Goodreads
Another big problem here is the prose. - Goodreads

Review: Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong

User Review  - Forrest - Goodreads

Pops is, by far, the best account of Louis Armstrong's life I've ever encountered. Terry Teachout's narrative is graceful and full of insight, and his esteem for Armstrong shines through every page ... Read full review

Review: Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong

User Review  - Jon - Goodreads

I loved this. Louis Armstrong is a complex figure when examined in the context of racial American society, and his story almost clamours to be told. Teachout shows the reader sides of the sardonic ... Read full review

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About the author (2009)

Terry Teachout is the drama critic of The Wall Street Journal and the chief culture critic of Commentary. He played jazz professionally before becoming a a full-time writer. His books include All in the Dances: A Brief Life of George Balanchine, The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken and A Terry Teachout Reader. He blogs about the arts at www.terryteachout.com.

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