Everyone who hears Grappelli's music, any age, gender or musical preference, is captivated by his innovation, passion & ability to find exactly the right note and duration - I'm not sure it is possible to get closer to perfection. The man's story, from a humble, illiterate and effectively orphaned childhood, through those world-changing evenings in the Gypsy ghetto with Django, the war years, meetings with the world's jazz greats, with Menuhin, Parkinson and his tours up to his death are covered here with a clear empathy & love for the great man.
The writing style is somewhat routine throughout much of the book, written in much the same way a 6th form student would write an essay for coursework, which makes it rather understated. Nevertheless Balmer's research seems faultless and his ability to put the facts together gives a masterful and logical route through a mass of history. The photos support the text really well. However, although I would gladly recommend the book to anyone who falls in love with the music, I feel it needs some support to put the spark of life into the writing, just in the same way that Yehudi Menuhin could not bring the same life to the music that SG did. HOWEVER... there is a DVD set to accompany the book - don't expect hours of archive music recording, but it is a brilliant documentary with interviews, clips and the excellent research that underpins the book. I suggest you watch the DVD to grasp the passion, then read the book for the detail, that way they both come alive & the reader burns for more. The book & DVD are excellent partners, but the book feels rather flat without it's masterful companion.
Buy them both! Now smile! Now, visit the CD collection & build a library that will endure throughout time.