Introduction: The Hit of Hits
God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and then He gave Irving Berlin..."White Christmas."
-- PHILIP ROTH,Operation Shylock
They say a hanging man hears gorgeous music. Too bad that I, like my father, unlike my musical mother, am tone-deaf. All the same, I hope that the tune I am about to hear is not Bing Crosby's "White Christmas"...Goodbye, cruel world!
-- KURT VONNEGUT,Mother Night
Irving Berlin was born in the nineteenth century and nearly outlived the twentieth. During the last several of his 101 years, Berlin faced a peculiar...