I really enjoyed this book, it is everything which I expect from a social history.
It starts off tracing - or trying to trace, because nobody knows it for sure - the history of jazz, how and from what it was born, going back to African and slave music. How this changed to performance, how it became ragtime first, then jazz. What where the places where this kind of music was most frequently performed and since such places where often not too respectable (if not respectable at all), so it was that jazz, from the start, gathered a very uncomplimentary reputation, one that over time turned into accusation of driving people crazy, breaking down all inhibitions.
The book traces the very beginning of the music in the marching bands in New Orleans, depicting a very vivid image of what it was like. Then moves to Chicago and New York (mostly) to show us the evolution of this music inside the Prohibition Era's clubs.
There are a lot of quotations from musicians who lived that era, and it's very enjoyable to read their memories. Sometimes it's like being there.
Then the author explores how jazz was perceived and lived by the black community as opposed to how it was perceived and lived by the white community. I particularly like the section devoted to jazz in Jazz Age films, because it not only explored the life of jazz in the movies, but also the changing perception of African American people and performers by viewers at large.
Really, every page is a discovery. I strongly recommend this to any lover of jazz, or, like me, fans of the Jazz Age.