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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best Springsteen bio...so far
Peter Ames Carlin's biography of Paul McCartney wasn't quite the definitive Macca bio...but it was the best so far. Same thing with this examination of Springsteen's life. It's great, but with an extra push he could have pushed this into a form of transcendence.

Overall, I liked the writing. It's mostly breezy, and even the footnotes are fun. Some of the...
Published 20 months ago by Chicago

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39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The promise was broken.....
I finished this book wanting "less" not "more", as it is really not a biography, but a description of Bruce's lengthy, deserved career, with some access to Bruce and to those who know Bruce. The story is mostly about the childhood and post-adolescent adolescence Bruce experienced, until his life seemingly changed dramatically with his first marriage and subsequent...
Published 20 months ago by BeauneHead


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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best Springsteen bio...so far, November 11, 2012
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This review is from: Bruce (Hardcover)
Peter Ames Carlin's biography of Paul McCartney wasn't quite the definitive Macca bio...but it was the best so far. Same thing with this examination of Springsteen's life. It's great, but with an extra push he could have pushed this into a form of transcendence.

Overall, I liked the writing. It's mostly breezy, and even the footnotes are fun. Some of the phrases made me cringe--they weren't quite purple prose, but a long dip into the inkpot--but I found it engaging. (As a consequence, though, the readability of Carlin's art made the clunkers stand out even more.) With close to three decades of Bruce fandom under my belt, I learned a lot about the man, his early years and of course his career. (Example: For the first time, I think, I finally 'got' the Mike Appel lawsuit.) Clearly Carlin researched his topic thoroughly, and his account of the early days of Springsteen's career has a day-to-day immediacy to it that is exhilarating.

My main complaint is that the ending doesn't hold up to the first four hundred pages or so. Events are presented a bit out of order, or then there's a first mention of a person who, it occurs to you, should have been mentioned many chapters before. Much of what is depicted there has the air of 'You already know this, so I'll rush through it.' For all the effort put into illustrating the Boss' early years and first couple of albums, I would have appreciated a similar treatment for (to date) late-Springsteen music--even if it made the bio run another couple hundred of pages (or even into a second volume at a later date).

Do I recommend this book? Sure. As I said, it's the best Boss bio so far. But can it be topped? One day, perhaps. In BRUCE, Carlin, as he did with McCartney, presents his subject as human, driven, mercurial, brilliant and flawed--which is really all one can hope for from a well-done biography.
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most personal biography on Bruce I've read, November 1, 2012
By 
J. Mahon (Heartland of America) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bruce (Hardcover)
In some ways, this biography is a rehash on the biography's by Dave Marsh (Born to Run and Glory Days), but what Marsh didn't give us, this book does, an intimate account of Bruce's early life in New Jersey, to include dealing with a Manic Depressant father, which fueled Bruce's loneliness (but gave us wonderful songs) and some very personal behind the scenes accounts of life on E-Street.

I've been a fan for nearly 40 years and Bruce has kept his personal life very guarded, which is ok with me and I respect that, but the effect of that has been a vision of Bruce constructed only from what his machine gave us.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the details of his early life. I've grown up with Bruce through his stories about his relationship with his father as told on stage and through his songs, but those only paint a picture of a father and son not getting along, as most fathers and sons don't. The fact that Mr. Springsteen suffered from depression (and I would even bet it was PTSD from the traumatic loss of his sister from a horrific accident when they were young) has given me a whole new perspective to what a young Bruce, his Mom and his sisters must have endured. His father wasn't just a stern, hardened man of the era wanting his son to pursue a noble profession, he was a deeply hurt man isolated and unable to connect with his family. This kind of depression went largely undiagnosed in those days and people had to deal with it the best they could, not truly knowing what was wrong. Bruce's way of dealing with it was in words and music. A lot of teenagers are attracted to strapping on a guitar and being in a band just because it made you cool and you got all of the girls. Bruce strapped on that guitar to escape a fate he didn't want anything to do with.

Especially precious were the details about Bruce and his relationship with his paternal grandparents, who basically raised him as a young child. They doted over him obsessively, much to the frustration of his mother. I enjoyed the same relationship with my grandparents so I understood and related to this part of Bruce's life. It made me smile reading it.

The rest of the book of Bruce's rise to stardom I've read before, but what I didn't read about was some of the darker parts of life with Bruce by his band mates. For years, life on E-Street looked like pure Heaven on earth, playing in one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time, with one of the greatest rock and roll artist of all time.

All said, this book is perfect for the long time fan because we connect with Bruce on a level not enjoyed, nor understood by the casual fan. The casual fans may enjoy the book, but I don't think will appreciate those intimate details as they are not connected to the songs.
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39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The promise was broken....., November 12, 2012
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This review is from: Bruce (Kindle Edition)
I finished this book wanting "less" not "more", as it is really not a biography, but a description of Bruce's lengthy, deserved career, with some access to Bruce and to those who know Bruce. The story is mostly about the childhood and post-adolescent adolescence Bruce experienced, until his life seemingly changed dramatically with his first marriage and subsequent marriage to Patti, his wife, both in the mid-late'80s, when Bruce was still under 40. Other than updated descriptions of his very public tours and musical and lyrical output since he turned 40, in 1989, there is pitifully little insight into Bruce, the husband and father and living proof of the American Dream he seems to live in horse country near where he grew up.

The author's having access to characters in Bruce's life: old girlfriends, his mother and sisters and the E Street Band, who are clearly backing musicians in Bruce's story--and little more--- is a double-edged guitar. It promises great insights, but delivers almost none into Bruce the man, which is what "biography" really should be: "a written account of another person's life." Those sources other than the above, fall into just a few categories: people who claimed to recognize Bruce as genius incarnate immediately, those who work or worked for him, and his old girlfriends and former wife. There is an obvious sense of resentment at how the band has been treated over the years, but the old girlfriends and wife have nothing much to say; the longterm current wife and his kids are totally absent from the discussion. It is almost as if we know nothing about Bruce after he turned 40--23+ years ago. Learning about how Bruce has evolved as a person since that landmark and how he has, hopefully, changed from the "all there is in life is my art" life he seemed to lead before that divider was the allure of reading this "biography". However, I learned little to nothing in that regard and , as I have been a devoted fan and attendee since 1975. Other than tidbits and some details, most of which add nothing of substance., I learned nothing of the the post-40 Bruce.

What this book is a detailed description of Bruce's career and the early evolution and inspiration. Bruce, to me, is above all, a wonderful poet, with a terrific musical gift and a natural--or calculated--ability to entertain. Like most poets, Bruce's best expression is in his own words, through his written verses (which, when put to song are "lyrics"). I wince every time Bruce appears in print or on some talking media and tries to explain himself and his thoughts, as by comparison to his art, these attempts are painful and ponderous. Tnis tome analyzes Bruce's lyrics and music throughout his career, which hardly serves to tell us anything more about Bruce, the person, than being familiar with those lyrics could do.

Bruce has always proclaimed--or did when he was in his pre-40, "private" phase : "know the art, not the artist". Carlin, the author of "Bruce" seems to equate the two, and seemingly assumes that the art equates to the "artist". That's the part I wanted less of. We can all read the poetry and hear the songs. But, very few of us can know the artist, understandably. Though, having some insights into the artistic process of this very gifted artist, might have provided some insights, Carlin's book does nothing to further that goal. The author does not even pretend to portray the artist, himself over the last 23 years, during which Bruce has become a husband and father of three and loaned his name, bravely, to presidential candidates (Bravo to him for sticking his neck out!). Though Carlin did try to incorporate what little, balancing negativity he could glean, those with most of those feelings either work for Bruce or worked for him and no longer do ,but are legally constrained from speaking "until the end of time" or would rather leave things unsaid.

A nice opportunity to provide an informed actual "biography" of Bruce Springsteen has been blown. I am left with wanting a lot less of what is in the book and a lot more about Bruce's artistic process and his actual life as an adult, which is absent from this book. Sad to say, I learned almost nothing from this book that I can remember, which is , for me, the mark of a book that has failed as real "biography"." Instead, we get "a written account" of Bruce's career and artistic output, most of which is already well known and widely available.
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44 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inside look at the magic of Bruce, October 30, 2012
This review is from: Bruce (Hardcover)
I had to start re-reading this book on Bruce as soon as I finished. It is an incredibly comprehensive inside look at the man and the artist. The author puts Bruce in a "lifetime" perspective that helps us understand the man from his earliest years through today. Although I have read many pieces on Bruce this one stands out for its insights on his lyrics, his madness for his art, his love of his extended family and his complicated relationships with fellow artists. It is painfully honest at times with Bruce seemingly giving the author incredible access to his most sacred thoughts and places. I have an entirely new perspective on songs I have listened to for as long as I can remember. This is a must read. Thanks for writing it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book Bruce fans have been waiting for, May 7, 2013
By 
Marty Essen (Victor, MT USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bruce (Hardcover)
"Bruce" is an interesting book to review, because even though I have a bunch of complaints, it's still a wonderful book, worthy of five stars.

Let's start with my complaints:

First, this is a long book for a rock and roll biography. As I joked to my wife: I now feel like I know more about Bruce Springsteen's life than I know about her life. This is especially true when it comes to Springsteen's family history. In fact, author Peter A. Carlin devoted so much space to Springsteen's ancestors that I almost became too bored to continue. If genealogy is your thing, chapter one is for you!

Despite the book's length, many of my questions remained unanswered:

1) How and when did the E Street Band get its name? Carlin just brings up the subject as an aside, by stating, "now dubbed the E Street Band."

2) This one is pretty obscure: When I was in school, I was a huge fan of both Bruce Springsteen and Graham Parker. So in 1980, when Springsteen joined Parker on the song "Endless Night," it was the coolest thing I could have imagined at the time. What happened when those two got together seems to be a lost story, and it would have been an interesting addition to the book.

3) There is very little in "Bruce" about the two prominent women in the E Street family, Patti Scialfa and Soozie Tyrell. Carlin mentioned that Patti stayed out of the interview process, but even so, he used plenty of secondary sources for other parts of the book. Why not do the same for Scialfa and Tyrell?

4) Here's the most important subject I would have liked Carlin to address: How does Bruce, now in his sixties, still manage to physically out-perform everyone else in rock and roll? Just stating that he frequents a local gym isn't enough. As anyone who has seen Springsteen perform on a recent tour knows, he's lost very little energy over the years. For me, that qualifies him as a freak of nature. Does Springsteen recover quickly after his performances, or are his mornings like the opening scene in the movie North Dallas Forty?

But enough complaints! Without a minute-by-minute biography (which no one would want to read), some aspects of Springsteen's career will always go uncovered.

Here's what I liked: Other than the first chapter, this was the most interesting and readable biography I have yet encountered. I read much of the book while traveling the county on my own tour (I'm a college speaker), and there were times I was so captivated I'd get disappointed when the flight attendant announced we were landing, and I'd have to turn off my Kindle. And when one of my flights sat on the tarmac for 90 minutes, I was the only contented person on the airplane--deeply engrossed in "Bruce."

Also, having spent much of my life as both a talent manager and an agent, I appreciated that Carlin gave significant coverage to the vital people behind the scenes. Without them, Springsteen wouldn't be enjoying such a long and successful career.

I thank Peter A. Carlin for taking on the herculean task of compiling this book. I can only imagine how many hours he put into both the writing and the research. Even scanning the footnotes was impressive--and often humorous.

If you're a Springsteen fan, you'll love "Bruce!"

Marty Essen author of Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I expected..., November 11, 2012
This review is from: Bruce (Hardcover)
This is a good, solid book about Bruce Springsteen. I learned much about his early childhood and what led him to become the man he his today. That being said, although Bruce gave the author some access to his personal life, it was incredibly limited. Bruce clearly dances around personal/private issues. His family speaks...but doesn't really say anything. His mother and sister are obviously proud of their son and brother. His ex-girlfriends' comments are forgettable. Like one of the other reviewers, I wished we heard more about his family. His eldest son is a musician, I believe. His daughter is an avid horsewoman. I get the privacy issues...but I learned more from People magazine about his family than from this book. And one person who I would have loved to have heard from was his wife, Patti. A stellar musician herself, she has a unique position within the band. Her perspective on things would have been fascinating. Ultimately, I believe neither Bruce or Patti will ever write about such things...so this book might be the best we get. (I actually wish Patti would write a book. Like any wife of someone so famous, being that person's spouse is both a blessing and a curse, especially because I think Patti is such a fine musician in her own right. Living in the shadow of someone as famous as her husband, her voice and talent have all but been silenced.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars DISAPPOINTING, June 28, 2013
By 
B Ardell Young (Camden, SC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bruce (Kindle Edition)
The hype for this book projected it to be the definitive book about Bruce Springsteen. This was the book that Springsteen fans have been waiting to read for ten years. Though, it clears the hurdle of the Marsh books, it is by very much.

The best to be said about the book is Carlin does a fairly good job on telling Springsteen's story until age thirty-five. The reason for that is probably time has put enough distance between Springsteen and his circle of friends, girl friends, former band members, and associates from those years to loosen the bond of loyalty they felt for Springsteen. It is interesting that Springsteen had the foresight to obtain signed agreements of silence, in exchange for money, from any messy separations that did occur so long ago.

Carlin should be credited with revealing the true relationship of Springsteen and the E Street Band (they are simply a touring band that is occasionally used on studio records). Springsteen has released eighteen studio records and the entire E Street Band has appeared, on eight of them. That fact is glaring since the band is advertised as being closely tied to Springsteen's music and it is not true. Since "BUSA" the entire band has played on one or two records while the rest of his records feature a variety of supporting musicians.

The biggest failure of the book is the exclusion of any information about Springsteen's marriages, children, friends, and Springsteen's outlook on his career. Since Carlin had access to Springsteen and his closest associate Jon Landau, the book has to be considered a failure because the author did not take advantage of the opportunity to write a true biography of Springsteen.

It appears that Carlin traded getting interviews with Springsteen and Landau to not writing about the past twenty-three years of Springsteen's life. It is unbelievable that Carlin provides no information about Springsteen's wife, children, and his relationship with the E Street Band. That is the big failure of the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I really wanted to like this book, January 21, 2013
By 
Joan Harrison (Glen Cove, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bruce (Hardcover)
I really wanted to like this book but as a biography it was thin on real insight into the mind of a creative genius and even thinner on details of his personal life. What it turned out to be is a detailed and very well researched look into Springsteen's career and the other musicians, events and producers whom he used to hone his craft, develop his brand and create the legend of " the boss." The book is very readable, though overly footnoted, worshipful and very careful not to step on any toes. If you love the man, know all the albums and lyrics to the songs you will probably love the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book on Bruce, December 20, 2012
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This is a good book on Springsteen. You get a small glimpse into his private world and a lot of band history. Fast read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost good enough......, December 2, 2012
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I read this book quickly. I liked it and it provided me with many hours of concentrated reading. I've been a Springsteen fan since about 1974 when I first heard "Rosalita". The book, BRUCE, was a bit disappointing, but it was a good read. I've read a few books on Springsteen, and this one is probably the best one I've read so far. Unfortunately, that isn't saying much, as most of the books I've read have been disappointing. Perhaps Bruce is just too huge of a topic for one person to write about.

The first half of BRUCE was great. I couldn't put it down. But after the first half it evolved into an album by album, tour by tour rundown. It became a bit boring, even though the topic was very interesting. Learning about Springsteen's life as a young child was riveting. It was remarkable to read about the rise from poverty he made. I would have been much happier had Carlin spent more time discussing song development, which is where my real interest lies. I think Springsteen is the greatest American song writer, ever, and I was hoping to learn about how he developed songs and more about how the albums were recorded. While there was some of that, there just wasn't enough. This book could have been about 200 pages longer, and it should have contained more pictures than what was published in the book.

I did learn some things, however, that I didn't know. I had no idea Bruce could be such an a-hole to the people who have worked with him, particularly members of the E Street Band. Other personal issues, such as girlfriends, were also interesting, but there was almost zero information about his wife, almost as if she were "hands off." Over the years I have read stuff about his divorce, none of which this book substantiates. That is not a good thing or a bad thing, it's just that it leaves lingering questions for me. I guess I could learn those things from another source. For example I've heard that he had to pay Julianna $25 million as a settlement. Seems absurd, and I'd like to know if it is true. I've also heard that he paid each E Street member $1 million when he broke up the band in the late 1980s. The book mentions nothing. I'd like to know if that is true.

If you want to read a bio on Springsteen, BRUCE is as good of a book to read as another. It is probably the better of those that are out there, though I haven't read all of them. I have read a few, and BRUCE seems to better than I remember the others being. Go for it.
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Bruce (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography)
Bruce (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography) by Peter Ames Carlin (Hardcover - December 5, 2012)
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