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Boston Boy: Growing up with Jazz and Other Rebellious Passions

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  64 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
Boston Boy is Nat Hentoff's memoir of growing up in the Roxbury section of Boston in the 1930s and 1940s. He grapples with Judaism and anti-Semitism. He develops a passion for outspoken journalism and First Amendment freedom of speech. And he discovers his love of jazz music as he follows, and is befriended by, the great jazz musicians of the day, including Duke Ellington ...more
Paperback, 212 pages
Published December 1st 2001 by Paul Dry Books (first published 1986)
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Paul Secor
Jul 05, 2011 Paul Secor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I reread this recently to commemorate Nat Hentoff's recent passing, and enjoyed it more than I did when I first read it.
The essence of this book is its stories. Like the great jazz musicians whose music he loved, Nat Hentoff could tell a captivating story. They told their stories through music and he told his with words.
John Owen
Apr 27, 2017 John Owen rated it it was amazing
Nat Hentoff's autobiography of his early years is an fascinating story. I grew up in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston and Hentoff gives a perspective that is different from mine in some ways and typically Boston in others. He writes about how segregated Boston was and he is right but I never thought about it back then. It is interesting to get another view of Boston. I am not very interested in jazz but Hentoff makes me think I'm missing something.
Jun 09, 2009 Jean rated it really liked it
Surprisingly good memoir by an author I had only previously associated with jazz criticism. Assured, confident, and not at all self-important, he describes growing up in Roxbury, MA, the section of Boston then known as a sort of Jewish ghetto for newly arrived eastern European Jews. He calls himself a heretic, for his estrangement from Judaism and swimming against the stream in many other things; but can celebrate his feelings upon his son’s bar mitzvah; and he can also identify strongly with th ...more
Scott Schneider
Jan 16, 2012 Scott Schneider rated it really liked it
This was a fun memoir about growing up Jewish in Roxbury/Boston in the 30s and 40s. It had a lot of great anecdotes and funny stories. My cousin Mel grew up kicking around jazz clubs with Nat back then so I've always wanted to read this. It was enjoyable.
Patrick Butler
Feb 16, 2012 Patrick Butler rated it it was amazing
I love Nat...His writing is great,his stories both funny and heartbreaking,and his political conscience is right on the money...
Aug 03, 2012 John rated it liked it
Nat Hentoff writes (or did) in the Village Voice...neat biography!
To self: first half totally enjoyable, 2nd half less so.
Aug 09, 2013 Scputval rated it really liked it
excellent and entertaining - very well written
Mar 14, 2017 Rona rated it really liked it
Nat just died. It brought me back to his memoir of his early years in Jewish, working-class Boston. He wrote beautifully about many things not so beautiful.
Feb 04, 2017 Ted rated it it was ok

It had been a long while since I had read any of Hentoff’s articles. I remembered him as a clear writer and thinker—a man of the left, certainly, but one who was generally thoughtful and articulate. Perhaps he could trace the cogency of his writing to his early education at Boston Latin School. One might find a delicious irony in a traditional pedagogy providing the tools for a fierce critic of the status quo.

If so, one gets little sense of anything that Hentoff took away from Boston Latin in t
Mark Goddard
Jan 22, 2017 Mark Goddard rated it it was amazing
Nat Hentoff writes about growing up in Boston in the 40's & 50's. Antisemitism and Racism rages in the clubs and back alleys of the Back Bay. Entertaining stories about Mayor Curley, Lady Day and Lester Young. Fascinating book, Highly recommended
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Nathan Irving "Nat" Hentoff was a historian, novelist, music critic, and syndicated columnist. As a civil libertarian and free-speech activist, he has been described by the Cato Institute—where he has been a senior fellow since 2009—as "one of the foremost authorities on the First Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution. He was a staff writer for The New Yorker for over 25 years, and was formerly a co ...more
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