Books by Nat Hentoff

NON-FICTION
Released: July 1, 1998

"Hentoff should be praised for promoting the Bill of Rights, but should be reminded that there is more to the Constitution and to social life."
A strangely intolerant brief filed in support of individual freedom. Read full book review >
SPEAKING FREELY by Nat Hentoff
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

"Perhaps Hentoff understood that, as interesting as his life may have been, the world needs ideas expressed clearly more than it needs another memoir."
Memos packaged as a memoir from Village Voice and Washington Post columnist Hentoff (Listen to the Stories, 1995, etc.). Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: April 12, 1995

"Hentoff combines a fan's passion, a scholar's mind, and a poet's sensibility to illuminate one of the most elusive and distinctly American phenomena-jazz musicians and their music."
Hentoff covers the big-band and bebop eras with style and grace, providing insights into the lives and work of such greats as Duke Ellington, Billie Holliday, Louis Armstrong, and Charlie Parker. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Oct. 21, 1992

"Nonetheless, those seeking a clear and consistent analysis of the meaning of free speech will be disappointed."
In a sometimes confused, sometimes admirable polemic, Hentoff (John Cardinal O'Connor, 1988, etc.) argues against restraints on free expression in a wide variety of contemporary contexts. Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 1988

"Mean-while, Hentoffs brilliant and engrossing portrait will surprise many liberal Catholics—and provoke many others into a reassessment of the man and his message."
John O'Connor's first four years as the Archbishop of N.Y.C. have often engulfed him in contention and controversy. Read full book review >
AMERICAN HEROES by Nat Hentoff
Released: June 1, 1987

"Index, bibliography."
Eight ease studies and two long biographical profiles introduce real-life teen-agers and adults who have lived the Bill of Rights. Read full book review >
Released: April 15, 1986

"In the grand scheme of things, Hentoff's life isn't exactly time-capsule material; even so, this jazz buff should learn the difference between memoir-writing and personal horn-blowing."
Jazz critic and social writer Hentoff recalls his early years and formative influences in this stream-of-consciousness memoir. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1985

"But fanciers of naked-city melodrama and down-and-dirty black comedy will find lively diversion here—in Hentoff's large cast of eccentrics and creeps (pimps, junkies, savvy street-kids, quixotic loners, NYPD ratfinks and yes-men), in the garish gobs of rough, multi-accented New York dialogue."
Middle-aged NYPD detective Noah Green, now married to youngish reporter Shannon (Blues for Charlie Darwin, 1982), returns to investigate another batch of gruesome downtown murders. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1982

"As such it's accessibly well-reasoned, timely once more despite the ancient heritage of all the arguments, and probably better off without the extracurricular padding."
A fictionalized airing of the book censorship issue, set in a high school with a weak, oily principal, a strong and principled English teacher, and a new librarian. Read full book review >
BLUES FOR CHARLIE DARWIN by Nat Hentoff
Released: Sept. 1, 1982

"Still, with vivid Village atmosphere and a nice romance (youngish reporter Shannon) for Green: garishly lively N.Y.C. cop-stuff, especially for jazz fans."
Detective Noah Green—50, lonely, Jewish—is the cop-hero of this Greenwich Village procedural, which features lots of rough ethnic talk, criss-crossing sexual perversions, and (no surprise to Hentoff readers) digressions into jazz-chat. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1981

"Talky, platitudinous, and passe."
Another frame-up like the one the same Sam Davidson experienced in This School Is Driving Me Crazy (1975); another white boy/black jazzman tutelage like the one in Jazz Country (1965); and more earnest lectures from such familiar Hentoff cutouts as the wise, compassionate jazzman, the strict but fair and concerned headmaster, and the firm, supportive parents. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 29, 1980

"In focusing on the courtroom, Hentoff has presented a brief for the ACLU and missed an opportunity to consider fundamental social and political issues."
Not a history of free speech in the marketplace, which might be intermittently "tumultous," but a review of more or less famous court cases—on the assumption that free speech must constantly be fought for. Read full book review >
DOES ANYBODY GIVE A DAMN? by Nat Hentoff
Released: March 1, 1977

"Articulate, selective reporting."
Ten years ago, when Hentoff wrote Our Children Are Dying, he introduced Dr. Elliott Shapiro, a Harlem principal of exceptional decency and intelligence who nimbly circumvented the inanities of the New York City school system and welcomed the community into P.S. 119. Read full book review >
JAZZ IS by Nat Hentoff
Released: Sept. 28, 1976

"Since there is no writer who has brought it all together for jazz the way, say, Edwin Denby has for dance, young readers and newcomers might use this book as a catalogue from which future reading and listening can be chosen."
A collection of quotes and anecdotes loosely organized around eleven influential personalities (Ellington, Holiday, Armstrong, Wilson, Mulligan, Davis, Mingus, Parker, Coltrane, Taylor, and Barbieri), some recent developments, and "the political economy of jazz"—a chapter title as misleading as the book's. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 9, 1975

"As for the plot, Sam is accused of shaking down a little kid but the real villains—three tough tenth graders who have been victimizing a number of younger boys—break down with such alacrity upon confrontation in the office that it's clear even the author isn't all that interested in his individuals and events."
It seems at first that Hentoff, with his characteristically heavy hand, must be setting you up for an indictment of the anachronistic, dictatorial school that Sam's father heads and Sam, twelve, reluctantly attends. Read full book review >
IN THE COUNTRY OF OURSELVES by Nat Hentoff
Released: Oct. 1, 1971

"Less a novel than a fictionalized nonposition paper, this might yet prod the complacent of any stripe with its savvy reporting of what's going down today — and maybe coming up tomorrow."
A loose tribe of high school revolutionaries (students and teachers), each on his own ego trip, attempts to turn the school around in a series of maneuvers that begins when a black students' club is denied permission to hear a speaker they've invited and culminates in a student strike just before the school year ends. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 10, 1969

"It is hard to say how much the sycophantic tone owes to campaign-puff intentions, how much to a tendency Hentoff acknowledges, then indulges, to idealize Lindsay as a 'Last Puritan' Yankee-aristocrat politician of principle."
Via The New Yorker a string of anecdotes focusing on the mayoral term, linked by interviews with New York potentates, knotted with editorial tribute . . . Read full book review >
ONWARDS! by Nat Hentoff
Released: May 13, 1968

"Hentoff's sharp eye for the foibles as well as the firmness of the protest leadership cannot wink back the flood of laughter, but this is a salient look at the trials of tweed at the barricades."
Since a startlingly vocal and mob-minded youth has taken over the port side of "liberal" politics, the middle-aged intellectual, uncomfortably ill-adjusted, with no peer-group minority club house to call home, is apt to paint himself into a corner of unstrung self-alienation. Read full book review >
CALL THE KEEPER by Nat Hentoff
Released: July 16, 1966

"Cool it baby."
Nat Hentoff certainly knows the scene and he has been writing about it successfully for some years now as knowledgeable author, jazz critic, essayist and, last year, creator of the acclaimed juvenile Jazz Country (Harper & Row 1965 p. 252(J-90)). Read full book review >
JAZZ COUNTRY by Nat Hentoff
Released: April 21, 1965

"Here is a book with something important to say about the sacrifices demanded of the artist in a way that makes a strong appeal to boys — and that's a rare combination."
16 year old white boys from New York's east 70's don't gain an easy admittance to the jazz country of Negro band leaders like Moses Godfrey. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 3, 1959

"There are interesting, differentiating pieces on jazz styles- ragtime and the blues, boogie-woogie and bebop; tributes to Jelly Roll Morton and Charlie Parker and Ellington; evaluations of some of the current writing on jazz, as well as its new 'respectability' as an art form; etc., etc. For the collector-connoisseurs who are probably familiar with other books under the aegis of these editors and to whom the biblio and discography will be important."
An ensemble of jazz musiocologists have written these pieces especially for this book, intended to "place jazz, its history and its language in fuller perspective". Read full book review >
Released: May 31, 1955

"A candid shot of the jazz world with the pull of its most magnetic names and personalities."
Yes, this is The Story of Jazz by the Men Who Made It, but add the ladies and the people who are making it right now and you have a fuller picture. Read full book review >

"The book is not a paean to Muste, but rather a carefully balanced, respectful biography which should draw praise from critics and disciplies alike."
The versatile Nat Hentoff has turned his talents to the history of a remarkable man, one who could well be called the Picasso of the American Left. Read full book review >

"The contributors here combine appraisal with appreciation and should certainly find an interested- if not dedicated- audience."
A successor to Hear Me Talkin' To Ya by these editors who have written some of the material here presents profiles of some 21 jazzmen, their lives, their music, and/or both in varying degrees. Read full book review >