AS THOUSANDS CHEER: THE LIFE OF IRVING BERLIN
by Laurence Bergreen
Viking; 658 pages; $24.95
"Irving Berlin has no place in American music," Jerome Kern once said. "He is American music." That was in 1924, when Berlin was only 36 and no one had yet heard -- hard as it now is to imagine -- such hits as White Christmas, Easter Parade, There's No Business Like Show Business and that spirited rival to the national anthem, God Bless America. Less than a year after Berlin's death at the astonishing age of 101, Kern's appraisal is still accurate.
When they came to...