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John Lennon: The Life [Kindle Edition]

Philip Norman
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (259 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $19.99
Kindle Price: $14.85
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Book Description

For more than a quarter century, Philip Norman's internationally bestselling Shout! has been unchallenged as the definitive biography of the Beatles. Now, at last, Norman turns his formidable talent to the Beatle for whom belonging to the world's most beloved pop group was never enough. Drawing on previously untapped sources, and with unprecedented access to all the major characters, here is the comprehensive and most revealing portrait of John Lennon that is ever likely to be published.

This masterly biography takes a fresh and penetrating look at every aspect of Lennon's much-chronicled life, including the songs that have turned him, posthumously, into a near-secular saint. In three years of research, Norman has turned up an extraordinary amount of new information about even the best-known episodes of Lennon folklore—his upbringing by his strict Aunt Mimi; his allegedly wasted school and student days; the evolution of his peerless creative partnership with Paul McCartney; his Beatle-busting love affair with a Japanese performance artist; his forays into painting and literature; his experiments with Transcendental Meditation, primal scream therapy, and drugs. The book's numerous key informants and interviewees include Sir Paul McCartney, Sir George Martin, Sean Lennon—whose moving reminiscence reveals his father as never before—and Yoko Ono, who speaks with sometimes shocking candor about the inner workings of her marriage to John.

Honest and unflinching, as John himself would wish, Norman gives us the whole man in all his endless contradictions—tough and cynical, hilariously funny but also naive, vulnerable and insecure—and reveals how the mother who gave him away as a toddler haunted his mind and his music for the rest of his days.

Editorial Reviews

From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics generally praised John Lennon: The Life, though they often seemed shocked at how much hate and violence could be found in one of the 20th century's most famous proponents of peace and love. Some were also taken aback by the book's length—over 800 pages for a figure who famously lived only to age 40. But most reviewers concluded that the bulk of this biography was appropriate, not only because Norman is the first author to investigate Lennon in such detail but because his sense for which details are interesting (a well-developed portrayal of the young Lennon's Liverpool) and which are not (Beatles ephemera) keeps the book moving at a steady pace.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC


“The bad news is that John Lennon: The Life is so rich and enveloping that it demands to be read…it’s a clear-eyed and compassionate study of a man...Grade: A-.”

Product Details

  • File Size: 868 KB
  • Print Length: 882 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0060754028
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (October 16, 2008)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001FA0T78
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,370 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
114 of 119 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly the definitive biography of Lennon November 8, 2008
Do we need another biography on John Lennon? Yes. Why? Because the two most popular ones are the hatchet job that Albert Goldman did and Ray Coleman's fine biography that didn't quite capture the essence of who Lennon was and was hamstrung by trying to undo the damage of Goldman's book. The other question we need to ask is if there are any new facts about Lennon's life that make this worthwhile (and considering that Norman covered part of Lennon's life in his Beatles book SHOUT!). Yes--Norman digs up new facts both good and bad. He doesn't turn these new bits of info salacious or sensational comments or observations providing them with a context to help us understand Lennon as a human being.

Philip Norman has tackled one of the most difficult subjects for a biography because Lennon's life was well covered by the press and fostered a lot of myths himself. With access to Yoko Ono, Freddie Lennon's biography (and unpublished papers), Sean Lennon, Paul McCartney (via email) and others, Norman has prepared a biography that is fair balanced and presents his contradictory character thorughout his life--his bravado as well as his insecurities (of which there were many).

Fans that have read other Beatles books or Lennon biographies should be aware that the bulk of the book covers Lennon's pre-Beatles life and his time in the band throughout most of the 800 plus pages of the book. Norman does revisit familiar ground simply because they are essential events and there are those that haven't read ANY books on Lennon but he also introduces a lot of new information as well.

There are a few flaws because we are, after all, only human.
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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life of a Beatle November 17, 2008
Most beloved public figures have many facets -- some of them nasty, some of them pleasant and admirable. Most biographies either focus on the good, or the bad.

But fortunately, Philip Norman is making a valiant effort to show, if not all of John Lennon's facets, then as many of them as possible. Having explored the Beatles and their impact on a generation, Norman narrows his focus down to "John Lennon: The Life" -- and he does a superb job unearthing the many details, relationships and differing faces of this much-lamented rock star. We'll never get a John Lennon autobiography, but Norman does a pretty good job of getting inside his shaggy head.

John Lennon was born into an incredibly stormy marriage (which broke up soon after) and raised by his loving, strict Aunt Mimi, though he was something of a hellraising trickster as a child. The one blot: the tragic, shocking death of his mother Julia.

Of course, everyone knows what happened later -- after a brief stint at art school, Lennon became part of a band with an ever-shifting name, and started working on pop songs alongside Paul McCartney. Though briefly devastated by the death of a bandmate, Lennon quickly rose to fame and fortune when the renamed Beatles became not just a hit band, but a new way of life for the youth of Britain, and then the entire world. Hit album after hit album poured from the Beatles, along with the usual rock-star intake of drugs, sex and occasional PR disasters.

But Lennon's interests began to stray in more spiritual directions, and as his marriage to the sweet-natured Cynthia fell apart, he met and fell in love with eccentric Japanese artist Yoko Ono.
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84 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Less about the myth, more about the man October 29, 2008
Forever romanticized by his tragic and puzzling murder, John Lennon has ascended to almost god-like status in pop culture. Remembered as the visionary and dreamer who soundtracked a generation, Lennon's legacy has largely been sculpted by those who loved and admired him, as his strengths, accomplishments and inspirations shine for all to see, while his flaws and failures have been forgotten. Philip Norman believes twenty-eight years of mourning-inspired deification seems about right, and with this book, he attempts to paint a more accurate picture of the man.

The artist Norman depicts has a lot in common with the popular description of a rockstar. The poet who sang about love never missed a chance to cheat on his women, and the man who championed brotherhood and neighborly living often strong-armed and bullied his friends. Norman shows us that he never let people forget that he was John Lennon and they weren't.

His book, however, is not a hatchet-job. Intertwined with his attempts to revise the pedestalized legacy of Lennon is a thorough, faithful account of the intimate and defining moments of a life that led to a canon of music unequaled in artistic merit and inspiration. Norman's intent was to show his readers both the sour and the sweet.

He achieves his goal in part with impressive, exclusive interaction with Yoko One, Paul McCartney, Producer George Martin and others. To those interviews, Norman adds research and his own conjecture and formulates theories about Lennon's mother's death and (what is sure to be the focus of much of this book's publicity) questions about whether Lennon harbored any homosexual tendencies/curiosities.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Bigger than life and yet, all that there is.
I loved the Beatles - all of them! I couldn't get enough of their music, their philosophies, their lives. Some parts of this book proved my admiration of John Lennon. Read more
Published 11 days ago by alice foust
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are a John Lennon fan, you will love this book.
This book is long but extremely well written. It gives a very detailed narrative of John Lennon's life, including his childhood, his song writing, and his years with the Beatles... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Ellen
1.0 out of 5 stars Trying to read this and love the Beatles but it is SO boring so far
Awful style. Wow. Trying to read this and love the Beatles but it is SO boring so far. Really struggling to get through the first chapter. Read more
Published 18 days ago by professor
4.0 out of 5 stars Lesson on Lennon
I enjoyed this book because it extensively covered Lennon's life before the Beatles AND because the author didn't seem to have a bias. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Miss Jane
2.0 out of 5 stars Slogged through it
Lennon is another one of those celebrities whom I'm glad I didn't know.

I am not perfectly sure whether it's that I didn't like this book very much or that I didn't find... Read more
Published 20 days ago by HokieChick
4.0 out of 5 stars Great information on John Lennon and the Beatles
Great information on John Lennon and the Beatles.
another example of an overnight success taking several years to achieve.
Published 20 days ago by john a stephens
4.0 out of 5 stars Much Better than Any Other Lennon Bios...
...especially the God awful piece of trash by Goldman, which made me feel dirty after reading it.

A very well researched biography about a 20th century icon, which shows... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Rich Greene
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a stunner. I thought I knew about ...
This is a stunner. I thought I knew about Lennon, but this biography shows me how little I actually knew. Extremely well researched. Well done.
Published 22 days ago by Linda
4.0 out of 5 stars Having read the Albert Goldman bio some years back, ...
Having read the Albert Goldman bio some years back, I'd been interested for some years in reading a corrective to the harsh negativism in that book. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Randy Stapilus
5.0 out of 5 stars The tale of one incredible man
It is well written and well paced. Knowing how it would end did not take anything away from the story. Small details of a large man who will never be forgotten.
Published 28 days ago by Jim Bob 151
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What A REal Shame That Ray Coleman's Excellent Accurate John Lennon...
The Ray Coleman biography is worlds better than this one. You'll be much happier with it and be pleased with its objective tone instead of a tone of fawning servile deference or a trashiod (trash + tabloid) of the Goldman & Guiliano ilk.
Dec 4, 2010 by BeatleBangs1964 |  See all 3 posts
Still can't wait to read this book. I don't think anyone who loves John is going to change his or her opinion based on anything anyone claims at this point, Philip Norman or not. I read Albert Goldman's book and I'm still standing. Also, Yoko Ono is not a woman whose validation I would ever... Read More
Oct 27, 2008 by Christian Overfield |  See all 17 posts
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