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Customer Review

on 15 July 2007
One can read this book simply as a fascinating life story, and as a savage indictment of racism, sexism, the grinding misery of poverty, sharp practice in the music business and a plea for greater understanding of the plight of addicts. Published in 1956, and co-written with William Duffy, Billie Holiday speaks candidly of sexual abuse, being confined to institutions, her struggle with heroin addiction, and her awareness of being black before the rise of civil rights and black power, is particularly interesting. So are the observations of celebrity- and there is a distinct tendency to underplay her encounters with other famous people. But Billie Holiday never descends to self pity or wallowing in victim-status. Open about her faults, objective about the lives of the prison warders and Narcotics Squad officers that she encounters. Billie Holiday claimed that records gave her little royalties, it was the sheer grind of never ending live performances that earned her enough money to survive and that is depicted without glamour.Billie, or Lady Day to her fans, also detested hypocrisy from any quarter so was not afraid to be confrontational. Her abortive film career is also refelcted upon. The book also details her own relationship with the classic 'Strange Fruit' -about a Klu Klux Klan lynching and how audiences misinterpreted the number as an erotic love song. The background to her other standards such as 'God Bless The Child' are explained. The book ends abruptly in 1956. She was to live until 1959, and is said to have died with 75 cents in the bank.
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