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John Lennon: The Life Paperback – September 8, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060754028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060754020
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.8 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“[A] haunting, mammoth, terrific piece of work.” (New York Times Book Review)

“It’s this level of detail that makes Norman’s 822 pages such compulsive reading.” (Bloomberg News)

“[Norman] sharpens what we know about Lennon at just about every turn…devotees will relish the new information, while casual readers will find a familiar story told more truly than ever before.” (Rolling Stone)

“[Norman’s] definitive biography draws impressively on exclusive and extensive interviews with Yoko Ono and, for the first time on the record, their son Sean…densely detailed, intricately woven and elegantly told, John Lennon: The Life neither condemns nor condones, nor does it consecrate its subject. (USA Today)

“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-.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Powerful and heartfelt.” (Washington Post Book World)

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Customer Reviews

The book was very interesting and provided a lot of information on the life of Lennon.
Amazon Customer
I'm not going to go through endless examples, but it's enough to say that there is way too much of this stuff.
John D. Muir
Regrettably, Philip Norman's book gives deference to this crazy bit of nonsense a bit too much, as well.
Isis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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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76 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Wesley Mullins on October 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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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