Joseph Epstein's "Fred Astaire" investigates the great dancer's magical talent taking up the story of his life his personality his work habits his modest pretensions and above all his accomplishments. Written with the wit and grace the subject deserves. Paperback This biography of Fred Astaire provides a remarkable portrait of this extraordinary artist and how he came to embody for Americans a fantasy of easy elegance and more complicatedly of democratic aristocracy. Tracing Astaire's life from his birth in Omaha to his death in his late eighties in Hollywood the book discusses his early days with his talented and outspoken sister Adele his gifts as a singer (Irving Berlin George Gershwin and Jerome Kern all delighted in composing for Astaire) and his many movie dance partners among them Rita Hayworth Eleanor Powell Cyd Charisse and Betty Hutton. A key chapter of the book is devoted to Astaire's somewhat unwilling partnership with Ginger Rogers the woman with whom he danced most dazzlingly of all. What emerges from these pages is a fascinating view of an American era seen through the accomplishments of Fred Astaire an unassuming but perfectionist performer who transformed entertainment into art and gave America a new and yet enduring standard for style.