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.”
Berlin wrote some fifteen hundred tunes over nine decades, including "Alexander’s Ragtime Band," "God Bless America," and "White Christmas." From ragtime to the rock era, his 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. Kaplan uncovers Berlin’s unique brilliance as a composer of music and lyrics and underscores Berlin’s continued relevance in American popular culture.