I am very excited to announce that my new book, Adventures of a Jazz Age Lawyer: Nathan Burkan and the Making of American Popular Culturewill be published by the University of California Press on January 15, 2020.

COVER JPGAdventures of a Jazz Age Lawyer is a lively narrative exploring the coming-of-age of institutions, archetypes, and attitudes that define American popular culture. The story unfolds through the career of legal giant Nathan Burkan, whose clients included Charlie Chaplin, Al Jolson, Frank Costello, Victor Herbert, Mae West, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, Arnold Rothstein, and Samuel Goldwyn. Burkan was one of the principal draftsmen of the epochal Copyright Act of 1909 and the founder and guiding spirit behind ASCAP—the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.

The book tells stories of dramatic and often uproarious courtroom confrontations, scandalous escapades of the rich and famous, and momentous clashes of powerful political, economic, and cultural forces from which the United States emerged as the world’s leading exporter of creative energy.

Available for preorder now on Amazon and through IndieBound.

Adventures of a Jazz-Age Lawyer rescues a key figure in early 20th-century popular culture from (relative) obscurity, and tells his fascinating story with insight and style. I don’t know of anyone who writes more knowledgeably, penetratingly and elegantly about popular music than Gary Rosen.” —Ben Yagoda, author of About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made and The B Side: The Death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rebirth of the Great American Song,

“Gary Rosen is a born storyteller, and this is both a first-rate story and a previously untold one.”—Peter Jaszi, coauthor of Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright

“The book reads like a literary novel with engaging characters and an intriguing plot. Rosen gives a clear and moving picture of Nathan Burkan’s character, both his flaws and virtues. In the course of tracing Burkan’s career, Rosen provides fascinating historical background that includes such colorful characters as Victor Herbert, Charlie Chaplin, and Gloria Vanderbilt.”—Philip Furia, author of The Poets of Tin Pan Alley

“While Nathan Burkan is a lawyer you’ve probably never heard of, his courtroom battles on behalf of popular entertainers like Charlie Chaplin and Mae West were often filled with salacious tales of the rich and famous, and the trials involving gangsters like Frank Costello and Arnold Rothstein are an enduring part of American social history. This book is a great read!”—Howard Suber, coauthor of Creativity and Copyright: Legal Essentials for Screenwriters and Creative Artists


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