Sunday, April 27, 2008


Book Cover - Satchmo: My Life In New OrleansI finished Louis Armstrong's autobiography last week. It was a great read. It seems fairly evident that he did most of the writing. The style was very warm and personable. This book made it seem as if you were sitting there chatting with Satchmo himself.

I would only have one criticism. The book ends rather abruptly. It ends at an appropriate place, but literally the last page of the text is the last page in the book. I found myself wondering if some pages were missing when I got to the last page. I don't think that any were missing, but that may give you an idea of just how abrupt the conclusion was.

It is clear from this book that Louis grew up in a very hard place. It is a wonder that he survived. Reading his story made me more grateful for my rather sheltered upbringing. I think that you will be amazed at the seeming negative turn of events that led him to taking up the cornet.

I was really amazed by his attitudes about some of the things that he had to endure when he lived in New Orleans. How much his attitude was influenced by the realization that the racist attitudes that brought about the Jim Crow laws were still very much present when he wrote this in the early 1950s (It was copyrighted 1954.) I don't know. You do get momentary glimpses that he did care about the way white people treated him, but you have to read between the lines a little bit. However, overall you do get the feeling that he tended to let most things just roll off of his back.

As you read you will find that he was no angel, but his story made it clear that he believed in treating people with respect and trying to get along with everyone. I feel sure that I would have loved to get to know him. Based on some comments that he made early in the book, it would seem that I may get my chance eventually!

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