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Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 26, 2010


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$3.62 $0.94

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306817837
  • ASIN: B004Y6MW9S
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 2.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #746,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Sounes has earned a well-deserved reputation for writing thoroughly researched, intricately detailed biographies. This comprehensive biography of McCartney is no exception. Sounes seems to have spoken to every living person with any connection to the former Beatle, from the singer’s neighbors near his Kintyre, Scotland, farm to the family veterinarian. Divided into two equally large sections—“With the Beatles” and “After the Beatles”—Fab covers all the highlights of McCartney’s life and long career: his early days in Liverpool; his meeting with John Lennon; the craziness of Beatlemania; his solo albums; the creation and collapse of his post-Beatles band, Wings; his marriage to Linda Eastman; his last meetings with Lennon; his drug bust in Japan; his forays into classical music; his disastrous second marriage to Heather Mills. This is by no means a hagiography. On the contrary, Sounes gives criticism when warranted, remarking on McCartney’s flaws both as a musician (settling for the ordinary, or, worse, mediocre rather then putting in the extra effort to create something exceptional) and as a man (a streak of selfishness that could turn callous). Indeed, Sounes is often brutally honest, offering a full portrait—warts and all—of one of the most famous men of the modern era. A must for Beatles and McCartney fans. HIGH-DEMAND BACK STORY: In spite of his persistent mega-fame, this is the first comprehensive, candid, and up-to-date portrait of Sir Paul McCartney, making it a magnet for boomers and serious music lovers. --June Sawyers

Review

Booklist, July 2010
“Everyone knows who Paul McCartney is. And everyone can imagine how much in demand this biography will be.”

Kirkus, 9/15/10
“[A] solid addition to the ever-expanding library of books about the Beatle named Paul…More than 200 interviews—and no-nonsense attention to detail…The graceful prose and superb storytelling create a riveting narrative.”

Booklist, 10/15/10 (starred review)
“Sounes has earned a well-deserved reputation for writing thoroughly researched, intricately detailed biographies. This comprehensive biography of McCartney is no exception. Sounes seems to have spoken to every living person with any connection to the former Beatle…Fab covers all the highlights of McCartney’s life and long career…This is by no means a hagiography. On the contrary, Sounes gives criticism when warranted, remarking on McCartney’s flaws both as a musician and as a man. Indeed, Sounes is often brutally honest, offering a full portrait—warts and all—of one of the most famous men of the modern era. A must for Beatles and McCartney fans…In spite of his persistent mega-fame, this is the first comprehensive, candid, and up-to-date portrait of Sir Paul McCartney, making it a magnet for boomers and serious music lovers.”
 
Library Journal, 10/15/10
“A probing work that examines McCartney’s foibles to a much greater extent than, for example, Barry Miles’s authorized Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now…There is a ton of engrossing, well-documented material here…A worthwhile read for McCartney fans; recommended for all public libraries.”
 
The Independent, 9/24/10
“Exceedingly thorough…A good read for those seeking a Pauline perspective on the Beatles plus a look at his solo career.”

Stuff.co.nz “Blog on Tracks
,” 9/14/10“
A fantastic tome…Sounes adds a lot to the story and his methodical, meticulous research style means that he's actually bringing new things out…Sounes has, through hundreds of interviews, built a book about McCartney that addresses the myth, understands the legend and is balanced; never getting anywhere near the all too common hagiography that is the bane of reading the  modern music biography/ghost-written-autobiography…I found it the perfect balance of entertainment and education/research—and, as such, it's one of the best biographies I've ever read.”

Blurt Online, 10/18/10
“The portrait painted in Howard Sounes’ Fab is of a man with more to him than meets the eye or ear…Sounes' treatment of Paul is fairly even-handed though. He doesn't shy away from the bad and doesn't overstate the good…There's still a hunger for all things Beatle and Sounes' book has its place.”

Word, November 2010
“[T]he first major unauthorized biography…. Howard Sounes brings to the task the same solid journalistic values he employed in writing his Dylan biography Down the Highway,which succeeded in unearthing troves of new information through the simple expedient of diligent legwork, hunting down the right people, and asking them the right questions.”

Rolling Stone, 11/11/10
“Few Beatle biographies are as exhaustive as this 634-page epic: Sounes paints an unsparing portrait of McCartney…For fans willing to ponder their hero’s flaws, Fab delivers all you need to know—and a lot more.”

Wall Street Journal, 10/29/10
“Provide[s] sound background on Mr. McCartney's working-class roots, the environs of Liverpool, and the bonding of two song-writing youths (Mr. McCartney and John Lennon) who both lost their mothers while still in their teens. The author turns up new details on these early topics.”
 
San Antonio Express-News, 10/24/10
“[A] massive, exhaustively researched biography.”
 
New York Journal of Books, 10/26/10
“Delivers on every promise it even thinks about making…McCartney fans will enjoy hearing some of the never-before-told stories about his family…The author handles the rougher topics with a professionalism that attempts to be as unbiased as possible…Sounes’ narrative writing style is easy to read. Instead of feeling like a dry, academic work, the book reads almost like a novel…The 500+ pages do not necessarily fly by, but the tale told is worth the time it takes to tell it.”
 
The Independent, 9/24/10
“Exceedingly thorough…A good read for those seeking a Pauline perspective on the Beatles plus a look at his solo career.”
 
Blogcritics.org, 10/29/10
“A compelling read…Since Sounes has dug so deep into McCartney lore, there is bound to be a surprise or two for even for the staunchest admirer…Hard to put down. Sounes' writing style is breezy without being slight. His admiration for his subject is evident, even when he is at his most candid, all of which makes Fab a worthwhile read.”

Desert News
, 10/31/10
“[The] first exhaustive biography of James Paul McCartney.”

Bookviews.com, November 2010
“Will more than satisfy any one of his fans.”

National Post
(Canada), 11/1/10
“Massive…Full of intriguing snapshots.”

CBC News
(Canada), 11/4/10
“A compelling biography.”

Record Collector
(UK), December 2010
“Macca examined in high-def accuracy…Where Sounes scores…is in scything through the wild undergrowth of facts, misinformation and myths to present a level-headed portrait of a musician who, obviously, is still held in fascination by the public…The definitive take on an extraordinary career…Sounes is also admirably responsible in his dissection of the Heather Mills years, sifting through the tabloid salaciousness to outline chains of events with the confident, dispassionate eye of a seasoned and reliable journalist.”

The Onion, 11/11/10
Fab does a credible job of outlining McCartney’s life and habits. So much has been written about The Beatles—and by contrast, so little about McCartney’s far longer (and during the ’70s, nearly as popular) solo career—that Sounes’ equal treatment of the eras is welcome.”

Tucson Citizen
, 11/8/10
“A 634-page epic about Paul McCartney that covers almost every aspect of his life…Sounes has done his homework, his research detailed and meticulous…The result is a rather unsettling portrait of an incredibly creative, complex man who could be petty and nasty, generous and charitable…Revealing, well-crafted, and utterly fascinating.”

Toronto
Star, 11/5/10
“[An] unauthorized biography of the famous and unimaginably wealthy bassist and composer…A minutely detailed and comprehensive account of the famous musician’s life up to now…On the whole, Sounes renders his subject sympathetically, as a gifted but flawed character.”

Montreal
Gazette’s “Words & Music” Blog, 11/11/10
“The first book to properly deal with McCartney's career after the Beatles.”
 
BookPage, December 2010
“Impressively thorough and up-to-date.”

Kirkus Reviews
website, 10/26/10
“Reveal[s] a side of the ‘nice’ Beatle most people never knew existed.”

San Francisco
Book Review, November 2010
“A fascinating and nostalgic trip back to when the Beatles changed the course of music forever.”

InfoDad.com, 11/18/10
“Exhaustively researched…Name-packed, gossipy, interpretative but not judgmental, and very detail-oriented…Fans of McCartney will surely find [it] intriguing if they receive it as a gift.”
 
BlogTalkRadio’s “Mr. Media”, 11/18/10
“Howard Sounes won’t deny that there have been an awful lot of books about the Beatles and Paul McCartney. But that didn’t give him pause; he just researched and wrote one of the best.”
 
New York Times Book Review, 12/5/10
Fab lifts off…in 1967, with the introduction of its most interesting character—the rock photographer Linda Eastman, who set her sights on Paul and determined to marry him even before they had met…Sounes’s portrayal of her is complicated, fascinating in its contradictions.”

Miami Herald, 11/28/10
“The first serious biographical attempt to pay as much attention to the 40-year span that followed McCartney’s run in the Beatles as it does to his decade within the Fab Four…Sounes’ reach is commendable.”

Publishers Weekly (web-exclusive), 11/22/10
“An engaging, set-the-record-straight biography…Sounes writes knowledgeably of the Beatles' close ...

More About the Author

Howard Sounes is known for writing detailed and revelatory biographies of a wide range of extraordinary personalities, including the Californian author Charles Bukowski (Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life), the murderers Fred and Rosemary West (Fred & Rose) and the musicians Bob Dylan (Down the Highway) and Paul McCartney (Fab). His new book is 27 - a study of the 27 Club.

More information at www.howardsounes.com

Customer Reviews

Great book, very well written.
SamanthaJo
To his credit, Soumes includes a good coverage of Paul's career with Wings in the 1970s and finally, Paul's current solo career.
BeatleBangs1964
I don't think the author liked the subject (although he made a point somewhere in the book to deny this).
Jules

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 88 people found the following review helpful By That Guy on November 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It's not that this is a badly written book. It's not that we haven't heard most of this history before (we have). It's more that the author seems to have a distaste for McCartney's songwriting.

Paul could be lazy, particularly on the lyrical end. And his post-73 material is a difficult slog, even for his biggest fans. Having said that, it seems criminal to read page after page dismissing Paul's contribution to music as inferior, especially to Lennon's anger. Some of McCartney's biggest and best loved Beatles' songs even come under attack. The author seems to forget that The Beatles' legacy owes a lot to McCartney's cheerful optimism. In many ways, it's what defines The Beatles.

Beyond that, Paul's work ethic and ambition, without which The Beatles' best work would never have occurred, is endlessly ridiculed. I'm sure Paul is full of himself. I'm sure he could be a real jerk at times. But using this as an excuse to reconsider his place in musical history (and The Beatles) is not only unfair, it's unfortunate. He deserves better.
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91 of 104 people found the following review helpful By PoetPriest on October 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It is never good, in any genre, for a critic to review a work that is contrary to his natural abilities nor outside the area of his comprehension. That author/subject disconnect is the situation with this work.

The book is annotated professionally, but easily 90% of the material in the book up to the Mills trainwreck/divorce can be found elsewhere, and is sometimes taken from elsewhere. If you are one that sees McCartney no longer as a creative force, but simply a world class performer of (his own) cover tunes, then his personal life isn't of great significance. Paul, post Linda, is a bit of a shadow. Personally, I don't want to know any more about Ms. Mills. I know too much already. So the one strength of this book is not appealing to this reviewer, though in fairness I note it.

As for this book's shortcomings, these are really shortcomings of Mr. Sounces, and are vividly demonstratable. McCartney has unique talents. At one time he used them to dominate and reshape the pop music genre. After that domination, his composing talents still remained vibrant and constructive for a good 20 years. The problem with this book is that Mr. Sounces, at his core, does not like, nor can he appreciate, Mr. McCartney's great talents in general, nor their particular flavor and uniqueness in particular. Sounces denounces (a frequent habit) one of McCartney's post-Beatle songs called "Magneto and Titanium Man" (from the "Venus and Mars" album). He dares the reader to try to listen to that song now, as if it would be painful for anyone to do so.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Chicago Bookworm on March 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Fab" is a rather mean-spirited 634-page slog through Paul McCartney's personal life that sheds no light on him as a musician. The book's subtitle, "An intimate life of," apparently indicates Sounes' interest in detailing McCartney's life apart from his music. But music is central to who he is, and without a better account of it, "Fab" reads like the world's longest research paper. There's an endless succession of "Then this happened, then this, and X said Y, but Z said . . . " Sounes deserves some credit for thoroughness, but the pedestrian writing and Sounes'evident disdain for his subject make this book extremely disappointing.

If you're interested in McCartney's music, here are some books that describe and analyze it:

* Tony Bacon and Gareth Morgan, "Paul McCartney: Playing the Great Beatles Basslines"
* Vincent P. Benitez, "The Words and Music of Paul McCartney"
* Howard Elson, "Paul McCartney, Songwriter"

Benitez and Elson are justly critical of some of McCartney's work (Bacon and Morgan only discuss songs they think are great). All three of these books evince an enjoyment of his best music and an ability to illuminate it that Sounes' book does not. And John Blaney's "Lennon and McCartney: Together Alone" is a sensitive, far-ranging analysis of both men's solo work.

How can Sounes say virtually nothing about McCartney's bass playing? It's like writing a biography of Jimi Hendrix without discussing the way he plays guitar, or the life of Janis Joplin without describing how she sings. There's also very little mention of his singing, and the analysis of his songs is shallow.

Sounes seems fundamentally out of sync with McCartney's personality and music.
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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Jefferson TOP 100 REVIEWER on October 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
562 pages of text, 4 pages of Acknowledgements, and an Index.There are 16 pages of b&w and color photographs (from boyhood through his later solo tours) grouped together in the book.

Yes, this is another book about Paul McCartney/THE BEATLES. But what makes this particular book even more interesting, is that the author, Howard Sounes (who has written fine biographies on Bob Dylan and Charles Bukowski), writes about McCartney in conjunction with the era when THE BEATLES were forming and went on to change music forever. Sounes also delves into McCartney's life after THE BEATLES, which, taken altogether, paint a fuller picture of McCartney's life in and out of music, including new information concerning his marriage and subsequent divorce from Heather Mills. For this biography Sounes has interviewed more than 200 people, which is obvious from the details found in this straight forward reading book.

This book is informative and entertaining, not only through Sounes writing, but various comments and anecdotes sprinkled throughout the book. There are chapters devoted to McCartney's boyhood, the forming of THE BEATLES, their time spent in Hamburg, Germany honing their musical skills, coming to America as popular artists, and McCartney's wedding to Linda Eastman. there's also much information on THE BEATLES differences and their subsequent breakup. From that point McCartney goes on to form his band WINGS, which the book goes into in some detail. After that the chapter concerning the reformation of THE BEATLES as a "threesome" is delved into along with the release of the three CD volumes and book ("The Anthology") which took an in depth look at the groups career. Linda McCartney's death is given much weight in the book and how it affected McCartney.
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