For Crosby’s renown to endure, he needs to make the transition from faded star to timeless artist...fortunately for Bing, Gary Giddins has taken up the gauntlet with surprising vehemence ... Mr. Giddins’s thorough research pays dividends. By digging into day-by-day and week-by-week itineraries, our biographer demands our admiration for Crosby’s unflagging efforts, often with little concern for personal rewards or favorable publicity ... Mr. Giddins is surprisingly non-judgmental about this subject—especially when compared to his strong opinions on Crosby’s recordings. He chastises the performer when he 'misses each and every high note' on a track ... But Crosby’s approach to child-rearing is never directly criticized, and often presented as symptomatic of its time and place ... But no one can accuse Mr. Giddins of shortchanging us on the facts. Every aspect of Crosby’s life is laid bare for close inspection in this penetrating biography ... I especially enjoyed previously unpublished extracts from a fan’s diary that recount minute details of Crosby’s life from the perspective of two sisters who followed him wherever he went ... It’s hard to reconcile the different facets of this oddly private man who thrived in the limelight while maintaining such reserve.
For a twenty-first-century audience, the idea of Bing Crosby as both a swoonworthy movie idol and an inspiration to battle-hardened soldiers may seem difficult to comprehend, but that is the brilliance of Giddins’ work: he makes us see how, in a very different time, Crosby’s easygoing, waggish style was just what the country craved, on records and radio, at the movies, and in person.
Worth the wait. ... an astute account ... a densely packed, sometimes excessively detailed narrative ... It must be noted, with regret, that Giddins has a terrible weakness for unnecessary material ... [an] evocative portrait of a man and a historical moment, which would be even better if it were about 100 pages shorter.