18/8/2018 12:01 pm  #51


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Thank you for sharing that review, Paul.
However the writer seems to lack the ability to form his/her own conclusions from facts.
Surely the best biographers should present the facts in a fair and balanced way with possible observations about motivations where justified.
However, to reach certain types of conclusion suggests that they are starting out with their own "agenda" and that in turn implies that facts could be presented in a slanted way to prove a case one way or the other. In turn that reduces the value of the work as it will be seen as biased in whatever direction.

As the to views on Sinatra I agree with Frans - the work is large enough in breadth and depth as it is - it is about Bing, not about his many contemporaries or "rivals". But in any event, during the years in question (up to 1946) was Sinatra really such a "threat". He was vastly popular but arguably with a younger, possibly mainly female following and had not yet developed the more "family" based following that Bing had acquired. I hasten to add that I was a little too young at the time to remember (!) but certainly get that impression from contemporary accounts.



 
 

 

18/8/2018 2:00 pm  #52


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

frans wrote:

- What a comforting thought it is to know that reviews, however well-voiced,  are just the opinion of  o n e  person.

And that is exactly how ALL reviews should be viewed by any one person no matter their alleged "status" regarding the subject.
 
I wish more people looked at reviews in that light as opposed to being "The Word". http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


All the best,
Paul M. Mock
 

18/8/2018 6:52 pm  #53


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Nice to see you agree, Paul. I've already seen quite a number of reviews on the biography; many of which are posted on Gary Giddins' Facebook page. It makes me wonder how many review copies have been sent out. Keeping in mind that all these reviews are the opinion of one keeps reading them interesting without annoyance creeping in.

Last edited by frans (18/8/2018 6:52 pm)

 

19/8/2018 4:50 pm  #54


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

I agree that no reviews of anything should be read as "The Word," but simply as the opinion of the writer, however well or badly informed he or she is. When I read a review, I try to do it with that thought in mind, even if it isn't always easy or even possible to do so. In any case, when I am reading a review, what I am interested in seeing is whether the writer looks at the subject with a critical eye, whether he or she is discerning the positive from the negative. After all, that is the original Greek meaning of the word "criticism": to create a system of positive and negative values regarding an issue.

 

19/8/2018 8:28 pm  #55


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

A review is always in the eye of the beholder.
When I was employed in the Theatre business a review would appear in 3 or 4 newspapers of the latest release of a film.
Sometimes one wondered if you were reading a review of the same film as they were so contrasting.
Best to skip the reviews as we will like one piece better than another and disagree with someone else.
Too bad it has taken so long.
Imagine the old serials at the movies - come back in 20 years to see what happened to The Lone Ranger, did Pauline really get run over by a train, etc

 

19/10/2018 12:50 pm  #56


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two


All the best,
Paul M. Mock
 

19/10/2018 1:01 pm  #57


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Paul: Thank you so much for finding and sharing that excellent review though I disagree with him on one point - 736 pages is not too long when Gary Giddins is the biographer and Bing Crosby is the subject! Can't wait for October 30th!!!

 

22/10/2018 11:56 pm  #58


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Does anyone else find the cover of volume two a little...underwhelming? The cover of volume one was absolutely gorgeous. It had the visual appeal to capture the attention of anyone browsing through the shelves of a bookstore searching for a good read. Volume two has all the visual appeal of an algebra textbook. Don't get me wrong, I've been eagerly awaiting volume two since I devoured the first volume over five years ago. I can't wait to dig in the moment it hits my Kindle but, from a sales standpoint, I think the cover should have a look more in line with volume one. 

Last edited by TheShadow (23/10/2018 12:26 am)

 

23/10/2018 11:58 am  #59


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

I agree, I think the color is a little underwhelming but like you I can't wait to enjoy every word! One more week!

 

23/10/2018 2:58 pm  #60


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

"Don't judge a book by its cover"
- George Eliot

 

 

23/10/2018 6:59 pm  #61


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Um... I like the cover...
The livery is uniform with Volume 1, which I find reassuring. The publishers obviously have faith in the franchise... I also think that given the fact that the subtitle is, “The War Years”, it’s quite an astute move that the cover photo shows Bing on a battlefield. This might intrigue the general reader more than a photo of, say, Bing with his Oscar.
Like all of us, I’m very much looking forward to devouring Volume 2, but I’m also still quite optimistic that we’ll eventually see a Volume 3...

Last edited by jeremyrose (23/10/2018 7:02 pm)

 

26/10/2018 9:08 am  #62


 

26/10/2018 10:53 am  #63


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

What an absolutely fascinating interview - thanks for flagging it up, Frans...
We are very, very lucky to count Mr Giddins among our number...

Last edited by jeremyrose (26/10/2018 2:17 pm)

 

26/10/2018 1:25 pm  #64


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Amazing interview and review, thank you for finding that Frans!

 

29/10/2018 7:54 pm  #65


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

The book must be on the way as my Credit Card a/c has just been hit (29/10/18) for $27.45.
Better hurry up and finish reading my current book - written by Margaret Truman because when Bing arrives it will be all Bing.
Must get around to finish hearing the DVD set - next one up is disc 7 and I haven't rushed as the previous 6 have been cut to pieces worse than the censors of a nude film.

 

30/10/2018 12:47 pm  #66


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Just received delivery message that the book should be at my door when I return home this evening. It will have to wait a few weeks before I can get to starting to read it. Maybe Thanksgiving weekend if I can. 


All the best,
Paul M. Mock
 

31/10/2018 7:34 am  #67


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Reviews of the book are currently in Washington Post and Newsday.

I can't see them because the publications have closed off access to Europeans in fear of our "General Data Protection Regulation" (GDPR) and I cannot even get to the link to Newsday!
However for those outside Europe here is a link to the Washington Post item 

 

 

31/10/2018 1:05 pm  #68


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Books Review from Washington Post
How Bing Crosby bounced back from personal and professional malaise   By Wendy Smith October 30 at 12:24 PMhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/resizer/9VC8pdbpidFp96DM0VeC5rdln0Y=/300x0/arc-anglerfish-washpost-prod-washpost.s3.amazonaws.com/public/OVDX6WWZIYI6RIIPWUKUNMIHKY.jpg

(Little, Brown)It’s been almost 18 years since the publication of “Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams,” Gary Giddins’s intelligent and formidably well-informed biography covering the entertainer’s life from his birth in 1903 through the film that launched his mega-grossing partnership with Bob Hope (“The Road to Singapore,” 1940). “Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star” was worth the wait.As in the first volume, Giddins makes Crosby’s career the framework for an astute account of broad shifts in the radio, record and movie industries. Crosby was a big star in 1940, but his fame was on another level by 1946. Giddins traces his trajectory across this eventful half-decade in a densely packed, sometimes excessively detailed narrative.He begins with a snapshot of the troubled Crosby marriage in 1940, describing an evening when Bing came home from work on “The Road to Zanzibar” to find his wife, Dixie, drunkenly berating their four young sons. The marriage fell into a grim pattern during the World War II years: Dixie was mostly drunk; Bing was mostly gone. It didn’t help that Crosby’s personality — “impatient with introspection . . . stoic, manly, rarely nostalgic, never sentimental, and often flippant”— was poorly suited to dealing with a fragile spouse. Crosby twice considered divorce during this period, but each time was dissuaded by a priest; he had been raised and remained a devout Catholic.Crosby was determined to end his relationship with “Kraft Music Hall,” the popular weekly radio program he hosted. It took five years to extricate himself, but during that time, he used his clout to get the show reduced from an hour to 30 minutes and began a long battle that would eventually transform radio from a live medium to a prerecorded one. Giddins covers this and other industry issues with his usual savvy. His critical prose, somewhat blunted in the first volume, is back at full incisiveness in a shrewd analysis of how broadcasters’ 1941 boycott of music licensed by copyright-enforcer ASCAP solidified Crosby’s connection to older forms of American popular culture. Decca responded to the boycott by recording Crosby singing Stephen Foster tunes and other public domain material, Giddins writes, which resulted in “a distillation of his style into its purest components — the peerless Crosby baritone as national security blanket.”Giddins’s pen is at its sharpest in his account of Crosby’s film career as he skewers Hollywood’s manifold absurdities. Starlet Marilyn Maxwell, he wisecracks, was “a girl-next-door type, if your neighborhood was MGM.” Production Code enforcer Joseph Breen scrupulously monitored “Road to Zanzibar” to forestall any unseemly displays of female flesh, Giddins notes dryly, “while expressing no qualms about depicting a public slave market in modern-day Zanzibar.” He conveys with zest the relish Crosby and Hope took in evading such nonsense. In Crosby’s case, however, the kidding went only so far. “No matter how jolly or friendly he might seem, you knew there was that invisible line you did not cross,” commented a supporting player in another Crosby movie. “I doubt anyone knew him really well.”Ironically, the tens of thousands of soldiers Crosby entertained during the war felt they knew him quite well. “What a guy, a regular guy, a real pal,” one man enthused in a letter to his wife. “He brought home right to your heart.” Crosby’s wartime tours form the emotional center of this volume. They poignantly show him reaching out to audiences of strangers with a warmth he seldom offered to intimates. Crosby had been terrified of hospitals since his guitarist Eddie Lang — the only person he was truly close to, Giddins suggests — died after a botched tonsillectomy. But he gave shows to horribly wounded soldiers in field hospitals. He sang “White Christmas” over and over, even though he never sang it “without a wrench,” seeing battle-hardened men cry over a song they cherished as a reminder of home and peace. It was the least he could do for “the best audience we ever worked for,” which had rescued him from personal and professional malaise.https://www.washingtonpost.com/resizer/TXJKur-cQ3m4AF9lqk_kkjfemkk=/3x2/www.washingtonpost.com/pb/resources/img/spacer.gif
  

The author Gary Giddins. (Herman Leonard)The reserve that frustrated his family was the key to Crosby’s popularity with the troops. “He [created] a particular kind of bond, a zone of emotional safety,” Giddins writes, adding pointedly, “A zone has boundaries.” The stern boundaries he established at home created a fraught dynamic with his sons and wife that Giddins analyzes with nuance and empathy for all parties. Crosby was much better at being a fictional “father” in “Going My Way,” the 1944 film that won Crosby critical respect and an Academy Award for his role as a hip young Catholic priest. He entered the postwar period as “a bulwark of stability and reassurance,” a dominant presence on film, record and radio.It must be noted, with regret, that Giddins has a terrible weakness for unnecessary material. We don’t need minute analysis of lackluster performances of trivial songs in each recording session. Twelve pages of background on “Going My Way” director Leo McCarey is too much, no matter how important a role he played in Crosby’s professional development. The worst failure of Giddins’s editorial judgment is his decision to close the book with endless excerpts from the diary of a teenage Crosby fan, who chronicles her uninteresting interactions in the winter of 1945-6 at excruciating length. Her entries bring to a jarring conclusion Giddins’s evocative portrait of a man and a historical moment, which would be even better if it were about 100 pages shorter.

Wendy Smith is the author of “Real Life Drama: The Group Theatre and America.”BING CROSBY: SWINGING ON A STAR  The War Years, 1940-1946By Gary Giddins Little, Brown. 736 pp. $40


All the best,
Paul M. Mock
 

31/10/2018 1:07 pm  #69


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

BING CROSBY: SWINGING ON A STAR — The War Years, 1940-1946 by Gary Giddins. In 2001, the first volume of this Bing Crosby biography established "Der Bingle" as a groundbreaking artist of recording and broadcasting. It's been a long wait for Book 2, and now comes the prime of Crosby's career, including "White Christmas" and the "Road" movies with Bob Hope. (Little, Brown; $40)


All the best,
Paul M. Mock
 

31/10/2018 1:08 pm  #70


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

"The Very Best of Us": A look at Bing Crosby's career during WWII By Samantha Wohlfeil
https://media1.fdncms.com/inlander/imager/u/big/13706516/artsculture2-1-df2d4deb4fd6c36c.jpg?cb=1540410115


  • Bing Crosby

Though he's now known as Bing Crosby's biographer, Gary Giddins never set out to write about him. Sure, he'd heard of the Spokane-born crooner, at one time America's most recognized celebrity, but Giddins really wanted to write about Duke Ellington.Thing was, Ellington's estate had just been donated to the Smithsonian, and it was going to take years to archive. So, the hard sell his editor had been making, trying to get him to write a Crosby biography, finally landed. Giddins dove in, conducting hundreds of interviews. The resulting book, Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams: The Early Years, 1903-1940, was published in 2001 and covered the first part of Crosby's life.While many opened their doors to Giddins for that book, it wasn't until it was published that Crosby's widow not only agreed to an interview, but allowed Giddins to go through mounds of letters from soldiers, as well as Crosby's journals and financial documents, for a never-seen-before peek at his life during the '40s."After days of that, I had a whole different story about the Second World War that I never anticipated," Giddins says. "I really wanted to write a book not just about Crosby, but about the home front and what that is."The documents gave an inside look at Crosby's correspondence with the government and insight into how much he was relied on to rally support both at home and in his tours performing to troops on the front lines.One of the most emotional moments for Crosby was performing to the few children who'd survived the Freckleton disaster, when a B-24 heavy bomber lost control in a storm and crashed into a school in England, killing 61, including 38 children."Churchill was so nervous about the effect this might have on morale that he put a censorship on it," Giddins says. "To this day, very few know about it. Crosby insisted on visiting these four children who were wrapped head-to-toe in bandages. He held onto their fingers and thanked them."At the same time, Crosby was really coming into his own as a performer, starting to sing new Latin American songs, country, rhythm and blues, and helping "so many black performers at a time when integrated performances on the air were virtually unknown," Giddins says."In many respects, he represented the very best of us at that time," Giddins says. ♦Giddins visits Spokane Nov. 1 to promote his new book, Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star: The War Years, 1940-1946, at the Bing at 2 pm and Gonzaga's Hemmingson Center at 7 pm. 


All the best,
Paul M. Mock
 

31/10/2018 1:10 pm  #71


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star: The War Years, 1940-1946 Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star: The War Years, 1940-1946 By Gary Giddins  Little, Brown. 736 pp. $40---

It's been almost 18 years since the publication of "Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams," Gary Giddins' intelligent and formidably well-informed biography covering the entertainer's life from his birth in 1903 through the film that launched his mega-grossing partnership with Bob Hope ("The Road to Singapore," 1940). "Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star" was worth the wait.As in the first volume, Giddins makes Crosby's career the framework for an astute account of broad shifts in the radio, record and movie industries. Crosby was a big star in 1940, but his fame was on another level by 1946. Giddins traces his trajectory across this eventful half-decade in a densely packed, sometimes excessively detailed narrative.  He begins with a snapshot of the troubled Crosby marriage in 1940, describing an evening when Bing came home from work on "The Road to Zanzibar" to find his wife, Dixie, drunkenly berating their four young sons. The marriage fell into a grim pattern during the World War II years: Dixie was mostly drunk; Bing was mostly gone. It didn't help that Crosby's personality - "impatient with introspection ... stoic, manly, rarely nostalgic, never sentimental, and often flippant"- was poorly suited to dealing with a fragile spouse. Crosby twice considered divorce during this period, but each time was dissuaded by a priest; he had been raised and remained a devout Catholic.Crosby was determined to end his relationship with "Kraft Music Hall," the popular weekly radio program he hosted. It took five years to extricate himself, but during that time, he used his clout to get the show reduced from an hour to 30 minutes and began a long battle that would eventually transform radio from a live medium to a prerecorded one. Giddins covers this and other industry issues with his usual savvy. His critical prose, somewhat blunted in the first volume, is back at full incisiveness in a shrewd analysis of how broadcasters' 1941 boycott of music licensed by copyright-enforcer ASCAP solidified Crosby's connection to older forms of American popular culture. Decca responded to the boycott by recording Crosby singing Stephen Foster tunes and other public domain material, Giddins writes, which resulted in "a distillation of his style into its purest components - the peerless Crosby baritone as national security blanket."  Giddins' pen is at its sharpest in his account of Crosby's film career as he skewers Hollywood's manifold absurdities. Starlet Marilyn Maxwell, he wisecracks, was "a girl-next-door type, if your neighborhood was MGM." Production Code enforcer Joseph Breen scrupulously monitored "Road to Zanzibar" to forestall any unseemly displays of female flesh, Giddins notes dryly, "while expressing no qualms about depicting a public slave market in modern-day Zanzibar." He conveys with zest the relish Crosby and Hope took in evading such nonsense. In Crosby's case, however, the kidding went only so far. "No matter how jolly or friendly he might seem, you knew there was that invisible line you did not cross," commented a supporting player in another Crosby movie. "I doubt anyone knew him really well."Ironically, the tens of thousands of soldiers Crosby entertained during the war felt they knew him quite well. "What a guy, a regular guy, a real pal," one man enthused in a letter to his wife. "He brought home right to your heart." Crosby's wartime tours form the emotional center of this volume. They poignantly show him reaching out to audiences of strangers with a warmth he seldom offered to intimates. Crosby had been terrified of hospitals since his guitarist Eddie Lang - the only person he was truly close to, Giddins suggests - died after a botched tonsillectomy. But he gave shows to horribly wounded soldiers in field hospitals. He sang "White Christmas" over and over, even though he never sang it "without a wrench," seeing battle-hardened men cry over a song they cherished as a reminder of home and peace. It was the least he could do for "the best audience we ever worked for,"which had rescued him from personal and professional malaise.The reserve that frustrated his family was the key to Crosby's popularity with the troops. "He [created] a particular kind of bond, a zone of emotional safety," Giddins writes, adding pointedly, "A zone has boundaries." The stern boundaries he established at home created a fraught dynamic with his sons and wife that Giddins analyzes with nuance and empathy for all parties. Crosby was much better at being a fictional "father" in "Going My Way," the 1944 film that won Crosby critical respect and an Academy Award for his role as a hip young Catholic priest. He entered the postwar period as "a bulwark of stability and reassurance," a dominant presence on film, record and radio.It must be noted, with regret, that Giddins has a terrible weakness for unnecessary material. We don't need minute analysis of lackluster performances of trivial songs in each recording session. Twelve pages of background on "Going My Way" director Leo McCarey is too much, no matter how important a role he played in Crosby's professional development. The worst failure of Giddins' editorial judgment is his decision to close the book with endless excerpts from the diary of a teenage Crosby fan, who chronicles her uninteresting interactions in the winter of 1945-6 at excruciating length. Her entries bring to a jarring conclusion Giddins' evocative portrait of a man and a historical moment, which would be even better if it were about 100 pages shorter.---Smith is the author of "Real Life Drama: The Group Theatre and America."


All the best,
Paul M. Mock
 

31/10/2018 9:56 pm  #72


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Paul, Thank you very much for taking the trouble to post those quotes of various reviews.
 
I'm sure though that Giddins knew rather more of Bing than merely having heard of him, as stated by one of the reviewers!

I have taken the liberty of tidying up one or two items of extraneous material.

Last edited by Richard Baker (31/10/2018 10:05 pm)

 

31/10/2018 10:08 pm  #73


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

My pleasure. I am sorry that they were so hurriedly copied but I knew you'd enjoy them!


All the best,
Paul M. Mock
 

01/11/2018 8:52 pm  #74


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Still the book hasn't arrived as I was hoping by now.
Just think of Bing's song - 'Soon' and the opening words - soon, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.

 

02/11/2018 7:15 pm  #75


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Just received an email (Friday) that my book will arrive on Saturday.
Trouble is the P.O. Is closed on Saturday. Sometimes they put an article in a locked box and other times over the counter.
Will have to ask the sorter today to put in a locked box.
We have to have a P.O. Box here in Morton as there is no street delivery.
Can't wait especially to view the photos.

 

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