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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Lush Life

Lush Life

A Biography of Billy Strayhorn

David Hajdu

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967) was one of the most accomplished composers in American music, the creator of such standards as "Take the 'A' Train", yet all his life he was overshadowed by his friend and collaborator, Duke Ellington. Through scrutiny of Strayhorn's private papers and more than five hundred interviews, Hajdu revives Strayhorn as one of the most complex and tragic figures in jazz history.

National Book Critics Circle Awards - Nominee, National Books Critics Circle Awards - Nominee, National Book Critics Circle Award - Nominee

Praise for Lush Life

Lush Life is a book as beautiful and intelligent as its subject. David Hajdu has brought all my dear memories of Billy Strayhorn to life.” —Lena Horne

“A portrait that is both full and convincing . . . It is a mark of excellence of this biography that it leaves one wanting nothing so much as to listen to the music.” —Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World

“Hajdu invests his biography of Strayhorn with the kind of sensitivity and clarity which is the mark of his subject's best work.” —The New Yorker


Reviews from Goodreads

David Hajdu

David Hajdu is the music critic for The Nation and a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Before joining The Nation in January 2015, he served for more than ten years as the music critic for The New Republic. Hajdu's books include Lush Life, Positively 4th Street, and Heroes and Villians, which were all finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award. His graphic novel The Ten-Cent Plague was a finalist for the Eisner award, and the editors of Amazon named it the #1 Best Book of the Year on the arts. Hajdu is married to the singer and actor Karen Oberlin and is the father of three. He lives in Manhattan with his family.

image of David Hajduo
Copyright Michelle Heimerman

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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