Miles Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Miles

An elderly Miles Davis takes an unflinching look at his successes and failures, personal and professional. Miles covers his rural childhood all the way to the time of his very late work, by which time he had become the wealthiest of all the jazz musicians of the period. The son of a doctor, Davis never knew poverty, but endured racism as a young man. He married young but left his wife and young children to go to Juliard in New York City. He only stayed in school long enough to establish himself in the New York jazz scene of the mid 50's, most notably with the two most prominent musicians of the day, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Once integrated into the scene, Davis rises fast and his young family begins to fall apart. By the late 50's he has already released his own hugely successful solo record "Birth of the Cool", which becomes a worldwide sensation for its artistry and originality. It is about this time that he becomes addicted to heroin as many of the jazz musicians of the day were. This addiction is to follow him for years until he is final able to kick it. During this period he never stops making great music and works with many of the jazz greats like Charles Mingus and Thelonious Monk. His life and career eventually suffer from his heroin addiction. He finally manages to quit in the 60's and switches to cocaine which is to be his constant companion for the next two decades. He continues to make successful and influential records. He travels the world and helps develop some of the best musical minds of the generation. He goes through two more marriages and has several children. He finally retires from music in the late 70's, his families ruined and his health failing. He lives in isolation for five years before returning to music and beginning the writing of this autobiography.
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Best part of story, including ending: It is a fascinating story about a talented, driven man. It's hard to believe he does some of the things he does. I liked reading the early accounts of the early New York jazz scene, especially all the anecdotes about Charlie Parker.

Best scene in story: His description of Charlie Parker on the stage and in the studio are my favorite scenes. Parker would always be high and/or drunk out of his mind, but still making this world shaking music. It eventually took its toll, but for awhile he was like a force of nature and Davis got unequalled access to him during his best work.

Opinion about the main character: Davis will never admit he is in the wrong even when he ruins the lives of his wives and children through his neglect.

The review of this Book prepared by Andrew Black a Level 5 American Goldfinch scholar

Chapter Analysis of Miles

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Plot & Themes

job/profession:    -   musician Job/profession/poverty story    -   Yes Period of greatest activity?    -   1950+

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   musician Ethnicity    -   Black Nationality    -   American Unusual characteristics:    -   Genius


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   thoughtful Graphic sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript. of nude males (the big P)    -   descript. of female anat. (the big B's)    -   actual description of hetero sex    -   descript. of female anat. (the big V)    -   main character serviced by prostitute Pictures/Illustrations?    -   A ton 16-20 B&W How much dialogue in bio?    -   significantly more descript than dialog How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   76%-100% of book

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