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Bowie: Loving the Alien [Kindle Edition]

Christopher Sandford
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This biography of David Bowie looks at his life from his deprived and manic childhood through to international stardom via androgyny, drug addiction and finally, critical acclaim. His various personae, including Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke are explored.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rock legend David Bowie, famed for his chameleonlike personality changes both onstage and off, once said that he "couldn't decide whether I was writing the characters or the characters were writing me." Similarly, the characters populating this biography?Bowie's own numerous personalities, his endless succession of lovers and myriad musicians and sycophants?seem to have overwhelmed its author. Sandford, author of Sting: Demolition Man (Forecasts, Oct. 13), has done his research: the book is packed with quotes and reminiscences from practically everyone who ever worked?or slept?with Bowie. A weak narrative structure makes it difficult to sort through the wealth of information, but the details of Bowie's ascent from a middle-class start through the years of drug and sex orgies to his current incarnation as happy hubby of a supermodel, painter and rock's elder statesman are engaging. Bowie's perpetual reinvention of his stage persona set the standard for the pop idols who followed him in their efforts to keep the attention of a fickle public. His private life, in all its decadent glory, set trends, too, making him an example of how to live the rock star life and come out alive. Nevertheless, this book loses steam once Bowie's '70s escapades subside, as Sandford doesn't have much insight into what the aging star has left to offer.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Perceptively written. DAILY TELEGRAPH A compelling and compulsive read for anyone interested in contemporary music, which I found very difficult to put down. HULL DAILY MAIL Well reseached... paints a more complete picture than we have had before. SUNDAY TIMES 'CULTURE' Sandford has the edge. Plus he appears to have uncovered the true inspiration for the character of Major Tom, a revalation worth waiting all these years for. THE LIST

Product Details

  • File Size: 4173 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Time Warner Paperbacks (November 7, 1996)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751519243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751519242
  • ASIN: B0023NUI9U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #888,495 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better detailed and explained than any of the rest! July 11, 2000
By Brian
When I bought this book, I figured I knew just about everything I needed to know about David Bowie. I knew all of his albums, his wives, favorite albums, all about his fellow musical friends (Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, etc.), the movie he has starred in, and so on. As a matter of fact, I came close to not buying the book at all. But boy am I glad I did. Loving The Alien is the by far the most down to the earth, well explained, and best researched Bowie biography out there today. I'm surprised that the author, Christopher Sanford was able to convince William Burroughs to talk to him. What sets this biography apart from the rest is that it presents the information in a factual matter but also with a twist of Sanford's opinion mixed in. I found the reading very interesting and I finally realized that I knew hardly anything about the exciting and unique David Bowie.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fairly comprehensive biography of Bowie. September 15, 2000
Christopher Sandford has done an admirable job of writing a biography on one of rock's more elusive icons, David Bowie. Having read most of the other biographies on Bowie in and out of print, I'd have to rank this one second best next to Peter Gillman's "Alias David Bowie." Gillman's biography has better photos and a superior in-depth account of Bowie's youth, but Sandford's is more up-to-date.
In "Loving the Alien," Sandford discusses Bowie's rumored schizophrenia, a trait he apparently inherited from his mother's side. (Previous biographers have argued that if this is a fact, it serves to explain the many stage-personas Bowie adopted during the '70's: Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Thin White Duke, etc. Curiously enough, Sandford seems uninterested in this theory.) Bowie's half-brother, Terry Burns, clearly suffered from the mental illness, which led him to take his own life in 1985. The song "Width of a Circle" is supposed to be about Bowie's own battles with schizophrenia (or possibly Burns', depending on which biography you read). Whether or not it ever seriously affected him, Bowie seems to have conquered it by his mid-30's.
Bowie also befriended many other rock stars and celebrities during the '70's. At one time, he was even friends with Elizabeth Taylor and Oona Chaplin (the latter's family even falsely predicted that Bowie would marry her).
Sandford's biography is probably the most well-written one yet on Bowie, as well as the most current. Strongly recommended for Bowie fans wishing to know more about the man.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I have read a lot about David Bowie, because I'm a huge fan, and I believe that this is the best biography written about him. It goes into such detail, you can't believe that it's all true. I actually ended up highlighting parts that were so interesting, I would reffer to in conversations. I highly recommend this book. It will change anyone's life.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible... September 3, 2008
Decidedly myopic and one-sided, the author's primary interest seems to be debasing the subject entirely using unsubstantiated rumors and dubious source material. There are far better, even-handed treatments available - look for the excellent "David Bowie: An Illustrated Record" by Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray. Crudely sensationalist at its best, and outright slanderous at its worst, Sanford's book would be at more at home amongst the supermarket tabloids than any thinking person's library. Absolutely terrible.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Eye-Opening Book January 17, 2009
By Nicole
I had never bothered to purchase biographies on my idols before, and the reason was simple: being true spawn of the MySpace generation, I naively thought that all the information you could possibly want was out on the web someplace, so buying books would be just a foolish waste of money. My opinion changed, however, when I discovered this book.

I was browsing Amazon for Bowie-related merch and found this. The online excerpt was what grabbed me--its narration of the turmoil Bowie expressed around the last 'Ziggy' concert very much shocked and interested me. Someone was selling a used copy for two dollars--an offer even an utter cheapskate such as myself couldn't resist--and I ordered it.

Being a rabid David Bowie fanatic, I relished the author's inclusion of fact after fascinating fact. It must have taken at least several years to compile the information. Eye-opening anecdotes about virtually every phase in Bowie's life, including often-neglected ones such as his youth and beginning stabs at releasing music, make this a highly informative read. Sandford goes into great detail on Bowie's cocaine-induced mental breakdown in the mid-seventies, which included behaviors as bizarre as repeatedly tracing swastikas on a fog-covered window, and repeatedly acting out the plot of "Rosemary's Baby."

I'd recommend this to just about anyone interested in learning about the man behind the phenomenal Bowie albums; however, the book tends to go back and forth between time periods, and the author generously applies the 'miscellaneous facts' element, which may bore readers who are more interested in a cohesive, story-like outline of Bowie's history.

Oh, yeah--there are several pages' worth of photographs included, several of which were taken when he was a boy, which readers might find interesting. All in all, a very well-constructed biography that deserves an honored place on any rabid Bowie fanatic's bookshelf.
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