William Palmer

The Ragman’s Trumpet

How about this as a case study for the tabloids? Thirteen-year-old boy, black, rowdy, bunking off school, drinking, carrying a gun, his mother a prostitute. Lock him up and throw away the key? The boy’s name was Louis Armstrong, and Thomas Brothers’s Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans (WW Norton 386pp £17.99) deals with his youth and the city that produced him.

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