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Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison Paperback – November 7, 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; Reprint edition (November 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688119158
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688119157
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #664,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While for the most part covering familiar territory in tedious fan-club style, this tome does present credible new material about the death of its subject, Doors singer Jim Morrison. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Tortured visionary and bumbling drunk--two sides of ``The Lizard King'' that emerge from this lengthy but less-than-probing biography of the late rock star. Riordan (a Rolling Stone contributor) and Prochnicky (a self-professed veteran Morrison scholar) attempt to retrace Morrison's ``aural, visual, and psychological journey'' through ``a fun house mirror'' of Sixties-style metaphysics. They recount Morrison's repressive childhood under a Navy captain father, his youth as school misfit and troublemaker, his post-college life as a Venice beach-bum, and his subsequent descent into an acid- inspired ``spiritual netherworld.'' Morrison comes across as an insecure but creatively driven man prone to extreme mood swings, and an emotional manipulator who ``enjoyed dangling people from his own self-styled parapet.'' In some respects, he seems a hippie Oscar Wilde who strove for recognition as a serious poet only after establishing a notorious persona. But it is less the star and more the martyr that surfaces here, with gruesome accounts of Morrison being beaten by cops, lambasted by finicky critics, verbally abused by audiences, and incessantly drained by a neurotic girlfriend. Riordan and Prochnicky try to bolster the Morrison mythos by mentioning his love of Nietzsche, romantic attachment to shamanism, undying interest in film history, and gift for surrealist thinking that nurtured his work but abetted his ``failing to draw the line between art and life, business and pleasure, self-instruction and self-destruction.'' Unfortunately, they sidestep any fresh or bold interpretations of Morrison's mystique, resorting to redundant drugstore psychologisms and a disturbing zeal to discount any allegations of Morrison's thinly veiled homosexual side. Worse, the authors promise to delve into Morrison's subtle lyrics but opt instead for shallow and rushed summaries. Candid and articulate but essentially a star-struck reminiscence that fails to transcend the packaged legend. For more compact and worthy biographies of Morrison, see David Dalton's Mr. Mojo Risin' and Dylan Jones's Jim Morrison (p. 466). (Twenty-five b&w photographs--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

There is some real meat in this book, and I highly recommend it.
Bruce Coryell
This is a very well written document of his life and seems to be very thorough and factual, unlike all the books that are obviously filled with speculation.
I have read alot of books about Jim Morrison and The Doors, but, this one is one of the best.
Tina Cole

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
Mad poet. Adored icon. Wild rocker. Alcoholic genius. Brilliant musician. Jim Morrison died in 1971, but his legend still sits among us.

With people who are brilliant and badly-behaved, as Morrison was, it's difficult to get a balanced view that seems like an actual person. But James Riordan's "Break On Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison" manages to do just that.

James Douglas Morrison was an army brat, intelligent and well-read, who began to blossom into a poet and musician in college. He went on to become the singer/frontman of the band "The Doors," adding his outstanding poetry-like songwriting to his bandmates' equally outstanding musical skills. Soon they were a massively popular rock band.

But Morrison had other facets as well: He was attracted to the bizarre, and could be cruel, sweet, loving, strange, and often drunken and loutish. He was also contradictory: He sought notice as a poet, but was still mainly known as a rock star; he slept around and handfasted a rock critic, but always stayed with girlfriend Pamela Courson. After living on the edge for years, Jim passed away in Paris, under strange circumstances.

Most biographies of Jim Morrison err on one side or another. Either they portray him as a sadistic, drunken lout, or they show him as a transcendent gentleman. The truth isn't usually that simple, and neither was Morrison. And Riordan shows us the different sides of Morrison's personality -- good and bad, together.

Like Morrison himself, the book has its contradictions: There is a somewhat fannish tone to the some of the writing. On the other hand, it's willing to acknowledge that Morrison could be lewd, weird, obnoxious and drunken.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book touts itself as the definitive account of Jim Morrison's life and art but it's essentially a re-write of Jerry Hopkins' "No One Here Gets Out Alive". Really! Compare the two yourself: there are numerous passages in this book that are basically paraphrased from the original 1980 bio. I simply don't see much evidence of the authors' claimed extensive research. However, to give credit where it's due: some of the writing is evocative and downright excellent. For example, the passages on Morrison in Venice, CA when he first begins writing music or as he put it "meeting the spirit of music" put you right there in a genuinely moving manner. Also, the depiction of Morrison's last concert in New Orleans where that spirit abandons him is also striking.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert Blake on May 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
While the world awaits the new book on Jim Morrison by Stephen Davis, you can still take time and appreciate James Riordan's classic work on this already classic subject. Jim Morrison remains one of the great icons of rock music, his image of a brilliant, insane poet who's antics and stage presence paved the way for gothic, theatrical rock (artists like Iggy Pop, Marilyn Manson and Scott Weiland all confirm the influence) is timeless and still inspiring to many. Riordan does his subject total justic with a book written with a literary flair in the words and an attention to detail that makes it vital to both the newcomer to The Doors and to Morrison followers. The portrait we are presented with at the end is of a genius driven by ideas and troubled by personal demons that probably did him in. What's fascinating is how Riordan has managed to dissect every aspect of the man. He studies in detail Morrison's tastes in surrealism, poetry and shamanism and makes comparisons between shamanistic rituals and Morrison's own stage behaviuor. And yet amongst all this the author never loses touch with what has made Morrison immortal in popular culture, the music. We get in-depth examinations of the lyrics and sound of The Doors and it's influence on artists such as Patti Smith, U2 and Alice Cooper. And Riordan never loses the sense of making the book entertaining, he writes with a novelistic touch that makes the book feel almost cinematic in it's approach, just read the first chapter, or better yet, the first page. "Break On Through" is a brilliant biography that any bookphile or rock enthusiast would enjoy. It's a captivating character study and an interesting look at the power of rock music in our age.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kate on December 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
If there was but one biography I was able to read for the rest of my existance, I would consider this one being the one I select. I have loved The Doors and Jim Morrison for as long as I can recall, and found the practise of alternative religions and shamanism interesting long before I learnt that Jim was more than just dabbling in Shamanism, but believed he was posessed by a medicine man. Hence, this novel, with all its poetry clippings, information regarding shamanism, a somewhat more accurate portrayal of Jim, and the writer's zealous attitude regarding Jim ( it was clear the writer found Jim Morrison to be the most marvellous person to have existed), combined with the simple, factual and well written book presentation, this is one of the most passionate and beautiful biographies I have ever encountered. It is clearly meticiously researched (as is seen by the poetry excerpts scattered throughout) and obviously of huge interest to the author. Although I can't imagine it being of great interest to those not particularly interested in Jim Morrison, as there is much less emphasism on The Doors, and basically solely revolves around the chrismatic lead singer. I feel, however that it will certainly provide entertainment for most willing to see it through to the close, simply because Jim Morrison was an enigmatic and highly interesting personality. This novel centres much around the idea that Jim was a poet, and not a rock star, and while this can prove repitious, the case is presented in a way that allows us to excuse much of Jim's outward behaviour. A brilliant overview of a brilliant genius.
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