Irving Berlin: New York Genius

Irving Berlin: New York Genius

by James Kaplan


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From the prizewinning Jewish Lives series, a fast‑moving, musically astute portrait of arguably the greatest composer of American popular music

Irving Berlin (1888–1989) has been called—by George Gershwin, among others—the greatest songwriter of the golden age of the American popular song. “Berlin has no place in American music,” legendary composer Jerome Kern wrote; “he is American music.” In a career that spanned an astonishing nine decades, Berlin wrote some fifteen hundred tunes, including “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “God Bless America,” and “White Christmas.” From ragtime to the rock era, Berlin’s work has endured in the very fiber of American national identity.
Exploring the interplay of Berlin’s life with the life of New York City, noted biographer James Kaplan offers a visceral narrative of Berlin as self‑made man and witty, wily, tough Jewish immigrant. This fast‑paced, musically opinionated biography uncovers Berlin’s unique brilliance as a composer of music and lyrics. Masterfully written and psychologically penetrating, Kaplan’s book underscores Berlin’s continued relevance in American popular culture.

About Jewish Lives:

Jewish Lives is a prizewinning series of interpretative biography designed to explore the many facets of Jewish identity. Individual volumes illuminate the imprint of Jewish figures upon literature, religion, philosophy, politics, cultural and economic life, and the arts and sciences. Subjects are paired with authors to elicit lively, deeply informed books that explore the range and depth of the Jewish experience from antiquity to the present.

In 2014, the Jewish Book Council named Jewish Lives the winner of its Jewish Book of the Year Award, the first series ever to receive this award.

More praise for Jewish Lives:

“Excellent.” – New York times

“Exemplary.” – Wall St. Journal

“Distinguished.” – New Yorker

“Superb.” – The Guardian

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300180480
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 11/05/2019
Series: Jewish Lives
Pages: 424
Sales rank: 39,660
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

James Kaplan has been writing noted biography, journalism, and fiction for more than four decades. The author of Frank: The Voice and Sinatra: The Chairman, the definitive two‑volume biography of Frank Sinatra, he has written more than one hundred major profiles of figures ranging from Miles Davis to Meryl Streep, from Arthur Miller to Larry David.

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Irving Berlin: New York Genius 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
AMGiacomasso 6 months ago
A fascinating and well researched biography. i learnt a lot and was happy i read it. Highly recommended! Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
Tangen 7 months ago
historical-figures, historical-places-events, historical-research, biography, 20th-century The man was a legend in his own time (1888-1989) and beyond. He set the stage for so many others and a good number of them are still being reworked today. His drive was his own, but there was a lot of motivation coming from an early life in the tenement of New York's lower East side as a family of Jews from the hazards of Mother Russia, and later being widowed at 26 shortly after the honeymoon. This account of his long life owes much to ephemera left behind and shared by his daughters. I learned a lot about 20th century musical and social history as well as the fascinating person who was Irving Berlin. I requested and received a free ebook copy from Yale University Press via NetGalley. Thank you!