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Considering Genius Paperback – April 10, 2007
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Crouch begins by comparing Appel with other writers: "One could not expect people like Alfred Kazin, Lionel Trilling, Harold Rosenberg, and the rest of the gang called the New York Intellectuals to recognize the importance of the Negro when they had missed the importance of George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Harold Arlen, even though those guys were Jewish too, and, in common with said writers, had... heard Yiddish spouted around in the home" (page 158).
Crouch goes on to say that "one cannot imagine" them "seeing Louis Armstrong and knowing what he represented... or rising in feeling and thought to the challenges laid down by Thelonious Monk" (p. 159); and he contrasts these "Jewish writers and aesthetes" (p. 159) with such "truly American creators" (p. 159) as Armstrong, Ellington and Parker.
Appel, according to Crouch, is different: "That Alfred Appel Jr. is Jewish... proves that there is no excuse and there has never been an excuse for missing this phenomenon [i.e. the rise of jazz]" (p. 160).
What Crouch likes most about Appel -- not the book but the man (Crouch typically argues ad hominem) -- is "that he has not fallen for the repulsive limitations of the... Frankfurt School as expounded by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, who had contempt for the United States" (p. 162) and "had no respect for the Negro or for America" (p. 163). Unlike them, "Appel understands America as it is, not what some German somebody thinks it ought to be" (p. 162).
Crouch closes by making it clear that "America is great" (p. 162) and reminding his readers of "September 11, 2001. It took a long time to get those towers up, less than an hour for each of them to come crashing down" (p. 163).
So much for Crouch's style. It's not for me, I'm afraid -- but if you like writing that gives off a whiff of anti-intellectualism, antisemitism and xenophobia, with plenty of patriotism -- this is the book to get.