Pops by Terry Teachout
A Life of Louis Armstrong

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Synopsis

Louis Armstrong is widely known as the greatest jazz musician of the twentieth century. He was a phenomenally gifted and imaginative artist, and an entertainer so irresistibly magnetic that he knocked the Beatles off the top of the charts four decades after he cut his first record. 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 worshiping fans ever knew.

Wall Street Journal critic Terry Teachout has drawn on a cache of important new sources unavailable to previous biographers, including hundreds of candid after-hours recordings made by Armstrong himself, to craft a sweeping new narrative biography. 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’s Bing Crosby and Peter Guralnick’s Last Train to Memphis as a classic biography of a major American musician.

 

About Terry Teachout

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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 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.
 
Published December 2, 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 496 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Pops

Kirkus Reviews

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Without overloading the reader with technical details, Teachout shows how Armstrong’s music evolved over the years, while staying true to lessons learned—above all, attention to melody—from his New Orleans mentors such as Oliver.

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The New York Times

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Teachout labels him, with uncharacteristic spleen, “a coupon-­clipping Ivy League dilettante.” (He’s kinder to another Armstrong critic, Gunther Schuller, but then, Schuller’s still alive.) Teachout concedes that for long ­stretches of time, the musicians around Armstrong were often second-rate, ...

Dec 03 2009 | Read Full Review of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong

New York Journal of Books

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“He is the beginning and the end of music in America.” —Bing Crosby on Louis ArmstrongPops: A Life of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout makes for very good reading, at least for most of its almost 400 pages (475 with source notes and index).

Dec 02 2009 | Read Full Review of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong

Book Reporter

In reading POPS, I figured that I was going to fill in some of the few gaps of my personal knowledge of Louis Armstrong.

Jan 19 2011 | Read Full Review of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong

The Washington Post

Dizzy Gillespie, no mean jester himself, accused Armstrong of "Uncle Tom-like subservience," and even Armstrong's allies winced at how he ceded control of his career to a mob-affiliated white manager who gouged him out of millions of dollars.

Dec 20 2009 | Read Full Review of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong

USA Today

Mencken, is the first biographer to make in-depth use of 650 tapes of private conversations Armstrong recorded during the last 25 years of his life, tapes that were recently made available to scholars.Those tapes, as well as Teachout's other research and interviews with Armstrong associates, fles...

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Dallas News

In addition to making the oft-told tales of Armstrong's upbringing in New Orleans and his landmark 1920s recordings sound fresh, Teachout devotes a full third of Pops to Armstrong's final 25 years.

Dec 27 2009 | Read Full Review of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong

Open Letters Monthly

“I think it must be because he’s unaware that he is invisible.” Teachout doesn’t remark on the more disturbing lines, the ones in which it’s hard to hear either humor or protest: “I’m white inside / But that don’t help my case.” Armstrong himself distanced himself from any political content some ...

Feb 01 2010 | Read Full Review of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong

Review (Barnes & Noble)

In Pops, his solid if atypically cautious biography of Louis Armstrong, Terry Teachout doesn't make too much of "Struttin' with Some Barbecue."

Dec 07 2009 | Read Full Review of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong

Daily Kos

I feel badly that I have to go out there and shoo them with the broom but I don't want them pooping around the grill :) ).

Jul 04 2013 | Read Full Review of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong

Bookmarks Magazine

Craig Morgan Teicher New York Times 4 of 5 Stars "With Pops, his eloquent and important new biography of Armstrong, the critic and cultural historian Terry Teachout restores this jazzman to his deserved place in the pantheon of American artists, building upon Gary Giddins’s excellent 1988 st...

Nov 29 2009 | Read Full Review of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong

Shelf Awareness

Congratulations to the Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass., which is celebrating its 200th birthday this month.

Nov 12 2009 | Read Full Review of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong

Neworld Review

Louis Armstrong was “a black man born at the turn of the century in the poorest quarter of New Orleans, who, by the end of his life, was known and loved in every corner of the earth,” Terry Teachout writes near the beginning of Pops, the new biography of Armstrong that doesn’t completely tarnish ...

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Reader Rating for Pops
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