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The Lives of John Lennon Paperback – September 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556523998
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556523991
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,084,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"An altogether worthwhile experience for those who admire either the man or his music." —Dayton Daily News

About the Author

Albert Goldman wrote the bestsellers Ladies and Gentlemen—Lenny Bruce! and Elvis. He died in 1994.

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Customer Reviews

The strangest thing about this book is the characterization of John Lennon.
I'm not saying the author fabricated a lot of it, but take into consideration how much of the book is proven fact and how much is speculation.
I mean, I really dont care to know about Yoko, but it seems there is as much about her in this book as there is on John.
Douglas B. Barr

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 109 people found the following review helpful By C. S. Overfield on October 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
For many years I refused to read this book because I did not want to blot or tarnish, with content that had been repeatedly described as putrid, hostile, slanderous, character-damaging dreck, my image of John Lennon. After finding a hardcover in mint condition for only five bucks, however, I couldn't resist, and I'm glad I buckled. First off, like me, anyone wanting to read the book probably loves John so much that nothing anyone could ever say about him would really sully or ruin their affection for the man. Secondly, I realized quickly why Yoko Ono had so fervently condemned this book as I reached the second half. Overall, Goldman says nothing horribly negative about John (yes, he's described as neurotic and slightly crazy, but didn't we always know that about John, and wasn't that part of his appeal?) The person Goldman painstakingly describes as evil is Yoko. She comes across as satanic in nature, and while I was initially hesitant to accept this harsh assessment of her, too many other books, such as Pete Shotton's and Tony Bramwell's, paint a similar portrait for Goldman to be completely wrong. For instance, Goldman is the only writer to reveal that no record exists of the phone calls Yoko Ono famously and dramatically claims to have made to Paul and Mimi the night John died. An abundance of facts of this nature are to be found in the book.

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I recommend you read it. The experience made me realize that my love for John is impenetrable, and if yours is too, then I recommend you check this book out. Ask yourself, who is the person who has done the most campaigning to destroy this book? The answer is the woman about whom Goldman does a good deal to expose.

(As a final asterisk, I meant to only give this a four star review, but I edited the review so many times that I ultimately hit the wrong button)
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I can understand the anger some of the reviewers have toward this book; I am like them in the sense that I grew up buying and listening to the Beatles' records. So, in a sense, I am disappointed in reading about and finding out just how complex, and yes, how tortured a man John Lennon was.
Is the book bias? Of course! Does that necessarily mean the book is bad? No! From a sheer reading perspective, the book reads very well. I think it is about time some author had the guts to take on Yoko Ono, and show her in the full light and all of her shallowness.
I am only puzzled as to why the author Goldman did not spend more time addressing John Lennon's songs when he was a member of the Beatles. For example, to really show how lazy Lennon had gotten during the making of 'Sgt. Peppers,' Lennon sat around at home and rarely came to the recording studio. Yet even then, as a mark of the man's ability to produce good songs, Lennon was 'inspired' to write the album's "Good Morning" from a television cereal commercial, and "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite" from (word-for-word) an advertisement. Yet Goldman fails to even mention this, giving virtually all of the album's credit, except for "A Day In The Life" to Paul.
It would have been a better book had Goldman spent more time on Lennon's song writing, and less time on Lennon's personal failings.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Follett R on December 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have been a life-long fan of John Lennon. It's not simply that I love his music; I find the man himself utterly fascinating. That said, I feel that I am in a somewhat unique position to critique works such as this book, as I do not have the the tendency most people do to hero worship artists/celebrities whose work I love.

Let me first point out that this book is more a psychological study of a very complex man, rather than a musical biography. I mention this as some reviewers have commented on the lack of analysis of some of John's music. This is not necessarily a bad thing- I think I would have been fascinated by this book and an analysis of John Lennon had I never heard a single song of his.

Secondly, there isn't any point in commenting much on the 1-star reviews of this book by people who dismiss it with a single word such as "trash". This is an exhaustively researched and extremely well-written book by a gifted writer.

Are there flaws? Definitely. As others have correctly pointed out, there are some things that Goldman reports as fact that are either questionable or flat out incorrect. Perhaps most notoriously, John did by his own account have a single sexual encounter with Brian Epstein during their notorious vacation in Spain together (John detailed this to his best friend, Pete Shotton). However, Goldman goes on to say that this was not an isolated incident, but the beginning of a longer affair with Brian. This is very unlikely.

One very annoying inaccuracy is that Goldman indicates that John virtually could not play guitar. This is so ridiculous that I don't think it is even worth addressing.

Perhaps the most glaring fault is that Goldman certainly provides a somewhat one-sided account of John.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 20, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I wasn't going to review this book, but I am shocked at the immature and personal reader reviews so far. Why pick on Goldman?
I read this book cover-to-cover in one night several years ago, and it never even occurred to me to hate the author. Whether or not all of the tackier details are true, this is biography of the highest order- we learn who Lennon was in each of his "lives" , in painstaking detail. Writers don't go to that much trouble with a subject they don't like. Goldman not only nails each of Lennon's masks, he gives a spot-on analysis for why he need ed them... and it wasn't just his hypocricy. Far from resembling a tabloid, The Lives of John Lennon is similar to Alice Miller's Thou Shall Not Be Aware in the absolutely subjective view of history through one person's wonderful and horrible life. This book will be enjoyed by ANYONE who is interested in the varieties of human emotion, music business, Jungian psychology and modern history. It will be rejected by anyone who takes criticsm of any kind as an attack.I am not a Beatle's fan ( although my mother was, and I love Primal Scream),but my I feel more, not less, for John Lennon after reading this book. If your image of your loved ones is so fragile that you reject them for being human, well, I refer you to the first chapters of Lennon's life. Oh, and incidentally, Albert Goldman is the only person I have ever heard of who made sense of Lennon's attraction to Yoko.
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