Book Review | Leonard Bernstein and American Music by Catherine Reef

51AlDxxI1sL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Leonard Bernstein and American Music

Morgan Reynolds, 2013, 128 pages

I had the pleasure of hearing a medley from West Side Story at the Spanish Synagogue in Prague in 2011. To bear witness, to hear the work of an American Jew in a city that had been taken over by Nazis and its Jews deported, gave me, an American Jew, pure joy and elation. To me, the performance said, “We are still here.”

The good stuff

  • Masterfully toldCatherine Reef, an experienced biographer, masterfully internalizes all the research to tell a story about this great musician
  • Exquisitely researched – Reef seamlessly weaves historical and cultural context into this exquisitely researched bio
  • Photos – Add to the text
  • Struggles and decisions – The narrative points up Bernstein’s passion for his work, above all else
  • Palestine – Reef’s discussion of Bernstein’s concert and commitment to the burgeoning Jewish nation is uplifting

The not-so-good stuff

  • Waiting for the Sam Bernstein quote – What I remember most from Susan Goldman Rubin’s Sydney Taylor Book Award winner’s Music Was It Bernstein bio was Leonard’s father saying something like, “How did I know he would grow up to be Leonard Bernstein?”
  • Focused more on career than family – I am assuming that because this is a series book intended for student research, it focuses more on Bernstein’s career rather than on his family

Special Note to Writers: If you aspire to write biography, use this book as your guide.

Overall summary

Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0

About Barbara Krasner

History writer and award-winning author Barbara Krasner writes Jewish-themed poetry, articles, nonfiction books, and novels for children and adults.
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2 Responses to Book Review | Leonard Bernstein and American Music by Catherine Reef

  1. Sarah Lamstein says:

    Thanks, Barbara!

  2. Pingback: The Biographer’s Challenge | Guest Post by Catherine Reef | The Whole Megillah

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