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David Bowie: Starman Hardcover – July 18, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (July 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316032255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316032254
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #749,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"British rock journalist Paul Trynka considers at length the Startling androgyny that made Bowie a defining human being of the 1970s....this book feels close to definitive....many moments in David Bowie: Starman made me lean forward with pleasure. "—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"British rock journalist Paul Trynka captures seemingly every glitter-god pretension and Lycra outfit, interviewing scores of friends, bandmates and detractors. The result is the most complete and compelling portrait of Bowie's life ever assembled."—Andy Greene, Rolling Stone

With extensive research, a well judged reappraisal of the work, and an impressively nuanced approach to the drives that have motored the many lives of David Bowie, Paul Trynka has delivered a sharp, elegant and convincing volume on the man that brings freshness to a familiar story.—Mark Paytress, Mojo

Truly definitive... Trynka's second successive exemplar of the rock biographer's art.—Ian Fortnam, Classic Rock

Something special...The book includes interviews with those who know Bowie best, from childhood friends to those working most closely with him today....This is a terrific book, and readers will be rushing to relisten to the artist's back catalog. Not to be missed.—Bill Baars, Library Journal

"Rich in observations from the collaborators and lovers [Bowie] burned through with roughly equal ruthlessness, the book is thorough enough to satisfy all but the most obsessive acolyte."—Chris Klimek, Dallas Morning News

"Paul Trynka's new book, BOWIE: STARMAN, ...a deeply researched and closely observed accounting of Bowie's life and career. Sure, there's plenty of sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll anecdotes. But Trynka takes us well beyond all that rock-star stuff and digs deeply into those peculiar confluences of gifted musical personnel and roiling creative juices that have produced Bowie's oeuvre."—Mark Baker, Paste

"Trynka hews to Bowie's own narrative...the author's musical credibility is unquestionable. For the rock fan, pop-culture junkie or curious passerby, there's plenty to be entertained by."—Maureen Callahan, New York Post

"Drawing upon more than 250 new interviews with friends of Bowie and on previously published interviews with Bowie, former Mojo editor affectionately chronicles the life and music of Bowie from his childhood and youth to the high points of his career, his recent heart attack and almost total disappearance from the music scene...Bowie, in Trynka's hands is a man who has never settled for the predictable."—Publisher's Weekly

About the Author

Paul Trynka was formerly the editor of Mojo magazine (1996-2003). He has also been the editorial director of Q magazine, launch editor of The Guitar Magazine, and editor-in-chief of New Projects at Emap. He is the author of Iggy Pop (Broadway 2007), Portrait of the Blues, and Denim, a history of the fabric. He lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Discography is great too.
Staci126
I appreciate not fawning over the subject of one's biography, but it's also possible to go too far in the other direction.
FryLady
David Bowie is the most multi-faceted person ever!
Laura Post

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Invisible Pedestrian on February 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Paul Trynka put together a very long, detailed biography of David Bowie (without speaking to the artists of course) and it still doesn't really get the job done despite the length.
In close to 500 pages I learned very little (or nothing at all) about some very important things in David Bowie's legendary career.
Want to know how the infamous, ground-breaking video for "Ashes To Ashes" was done in 1980 and who came up with the ideas? Not here. Want to learn about how Bowie landed the role in Labyrinth in 1986 which was largely panned by critics but became a hit anyway and still has a large following, and was put together by Jim Henson of Muppets fame? Or about the music Bowie did for it? Not here.
What about the bizarre, yet beautiful collaboration with Bing Crosby on "Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy" in 1977? Barely a mention. Really? The collaboration on the hit single "This Is Not America" with the Pat Metheny Group in 1985? Nope-not even mentioned.
How about getting Pete Townshend to lay down the guitar solo on "Slow Burn" in 2002? Nope! Or singing on Adrian Belew's 1990 hit "Pretty Pink Rose"? Of course not.
Not even a word about the controversial cover art of the Diamond Dogs album! How is this possible? Or David's appearance on SNL in 1979 and so on.
But if you want to know what his nanny from the 70's had to say or some friends he hasn't seen in 40 years, this is the book for you. There's even some quotes attributed to nobody at all.
Trynka also annoyingly puts his opinions on the music throughout which should not be done. He has a seperate section for that in the back of the book, so why inject yourself in the narrative?
I still can't completely condemn the book as there are patches of good info and it is detailed (focusing way too much on the 60's). But flaws galore, some pretentious writing and not mentioning so many events was disappointing to say the least. No way this book is 5 stars.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By MT57 on January 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I can't bring myself to assign 5 stars to a straightforward biography about a rock star but this is a good journalistic review of Bowie's life. By "journalistic", I mean a style that is chronological, well sourced, focused on the subject, striving for a balanced presentation that, net net, is modestly sympathetic without being fawning (although there are one or two passages which could be described as fawning), and relatively crisp (although it is pretty hefty) with not much psychoanalysis, sociology, musical analysis or authorial intrusion.

Bowie and his family do not seem to have actively cooperated in it but the author appears to have quite a number of sources who talk on the record.

He has a nice balance about what to focus on and what to glide over, and the chapter leading up to the release of Ziggy Stardust was excellent, conveying the professional excitement and pleasure of numerous participants who recognized, as they made it, that they were working on a breakthrough in their field.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Staci126 on September 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book. It has so many details from the entirety of DB's career and life. Probably a realistic portrayal of DB--not always flattering, but seems honest. For those who love DB (and I don't know who else would read the book...) there are lots of details about the writing of different songs and albums, which was really cool. The book gives an interesting view into the process by which he writes albums/songs. If you are reading it out of a general interest in rock music, it might be more detailed than you want, but I think it's a great amount of detail. I'm really glad I bought it so I can read it again and again. Discography is great too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By FryLady on April 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I didn't really care for this book and found it disappointing. Reading others' reviews helped me put a voice to why. I felt that this author had an ax to grind and accuses Bowie of basically being a leech who sucked others dry and threw them aside. That he only had one brief period of greatness, and then resorted to stealing from others. The tone overall is rather distant and critical. I appreciate not fawning over the subject of one's biography, but it's also possible to go too far in the other direction. As another reviewer mentioned, the book is lacking detail about key elements such as Angie, Berlin and Iggy Pop. Overall, I completed this book because I felt sort of obligated (and hoped it would get more interesting) but it remained sort of dull...the last thing I'd expect from a Bowie bio. On the other hand, some readers who are obviously way more familiar with his life than I am seem to love it, so give it your own read and see what you think!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. A. Daniel TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Paul Trynka's "definitive biography," DAVID BOWIE: STARMAN, is good, but it's not great. The task to sum up an artist as prolific as David Bowie is no easy burden, but Trynka does a serviceable job here.

THE GOOD:
The book attempts to tell the story of David Bowie's life from those around him. There are plenty of interviews here from people that have known Bowie from his young days to those who met him late in his career. It's fun to see how these individuals' accounts sync up to create a portrait the artist. For the most part, they agree: he's an enthusiastic intellectual that is obsessed with pop culture. Another nice thing (even though it ends up hurting the book, in my opinion) is the breadth of the book. This book covers from the moment David Jones was born to the time before publishing; if you're looking for a narrative about the singer's life, DAVID BOWIE: STARMAN does a decent job of cobbling the loose ends together to make a coherent biography.

The discography listing in the back of the book is a fun, brief read. Trynka sums up Bowie's albums with a paragraph or two and lists the major players (engineers, musicians, producers) involved with each.

The beginning and ending of the book are great. DAVID BOWIE: STARMAN begins with Ziggy and The Spiders playing "Starman" in front of a live television audience. The author states that this event is what launched Bowie's career. After this quick introduction, the book loses steam when it flashes back to Bowie's childhood origin. The book especially picks up once Bowie signs under Tony Defries' management, but the moments before HUNKY DORY feel quite dry. The ending treats Bowie with a more reverent tone than anywhere else in the book.
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