By David Hajdu
Updated August 08, 1997 at 04:00 AM EDT

An epically important figure in 20th-century cultural history, Louis Armstrong has not quite found his Boswell, nor even his Bosworth, in Laurence Bergreen. This snappy biography is an accessible introduction to the particulars of Armstrong’s life. But Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life by Laurence Bergreen fails to illuminate the peculiarly American miracle of his genius. And there are just too many holes and errors. For instance, Bergreen says, ”there was, astonishingly, no music” at Armstrong’s funeral, although Peggy Lee, Al Hibbler, and others performed. B-

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