By Tom Sinclair
Updated February 23, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

All right, kids, get this straight: Limp bizkit may be hot, but they ain’t cool. At least, not in the classic sense of the word, the meaning and roots of which Lewis MacAdams explores in his engrossing book-length essay Birth of the Cool: Beat, Bebop, and the American Avant-Garde (The Free Press, $27.50). Like jazz, from which it sprang, cool is a quintessentially American invention that’s proven remarkably enduring (who among us doesn’t use the word on a daily basis?). ”If cool has been trivialized, it’s also been globalized,” writes MacAdams, who takes us on a breezy prose tour of a time before cool got co- opted by the mainstream (circa 1948-1965, by his yardstick). The hipster archetypes are all here, from jazz avatars Charlie Parker and Lester Young (who purportedly coined the phrase ”that’s cool”) to Beat honchos Kerouac and Ginsberg, to ’60s shakers Dylan and Warhol. Of course, as MacAdams paradoxically points out, ”as soon as anything is cool, its cool starts to vaporize” — so snatch this volume up before it turns to mist. A-