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Madonna: Like an Icon Paperback – Bargain Price, December 30, 2008

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The Material Girl is respectfully, if not fawningly, limned by O'Brien in this lengthy bio undertaken without benefit of the subject's input. Fascinated by Madonna's media mastery, O'Brien considers her music-video, live-performance, photographic (remember Sex?), thespian, and other coups, inadvertently (perhaps) making the point that as singer, she's a heckuva dancer. Snide shots from reviewers aside, Madonna has made a lot of stuff in a variety of media. O'Brien seems to have covered it all to create a portrait of a driven, committed artiste of the highest order. Nary a negative word is spewed, but since by now most folks know how they feel about Madonna, hard judgments and artistic evaluations may be beside the point. Nonfans may avoid the book, but ardent followers who have either forgotten or sublimated, say, Desperately Seeking Susan will boost circulation at virtually any library. For kicking back and remembering when Madonna was cutting-edge, and not just in the worlds of kabbalah and kiddie lit, this is the ticket. Tribby, Mike --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Meticulously chronicled”... [and] absorbing.” (USA Today )
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; 1 Reprint edition (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060898992
  • ASIN: B0046LUD9M
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,804,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Who can properly explicate the woman who is arguably the most famous female pop artist of our time? Many have tried; some have failed. Music critic Lucy O'Brien has a good go at it with Madonna Like An Icon.

O'Brien has been researching the phenomenon that is Madonna since the 1980s, fascinated by what appears to be unbridled ambition and the ability to repeatedly reinvent her image. This biographer's summary judgment is "The only place where she seems truly herself is when she is doing her work. Away from that she can be self-conscious, status-conscious, everything-conscious. Only in performance are those layers stripped away and it's just her."

Whether or not we agree with O'Brien's assessment this biography is meticulously written and researched, taking readers from Madonna's childhood in Detroit, Michigan, where she later danced at gay clubs to her almost fearless pursuit of success, through her tumultuous marriage to Sean Penn, to her Like a Prayer video, her movie roles, her stage appearance as Evita, her embrace of Kabbalah, and finally her marriage to Guy Ritchie.

Noting that Madonna's theatrical shows have made her a "quasi-religious icon", O'Brien cites friend and actor Rupert Everett who called Madonna the "Immaculate Conception." He describes his impression upon first meeting Madonna: ".....there was an energy field around her, like a wave, that swept everyone up as it crashed into the room"

Madonna once said of herself, "I am the work of art."
Who is the "real" Madonna? The answer may not be found in Madonna Like An Icon, but it is fascinating reading and sure to be devoured by her legions of fans.

- Gail Cooke
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Antoine D. Reid VINE VOICE on August 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
One Amazon.com reviewer complained that 'Like An Icon' is just a re-hashing of old stories and that there's not much to this biography. I totally disagree. 'Like An Icon' by Lucy O'Brien dismantles the curious and elusive celebrity and pop 'icon' known as Madonna and pieces her back together, revealing her motivations, fears, accomplishments, setbacks and failures. While other biographies seem to take a distant, detached observer stand-point, re-telling the same stories and quotes that appear in magazines or through a simple Google search, O'Brien manages to truly delve into Madonna and her psyche, making for an intimate and very revealing case study. Having listened to Madonna's music and albums, I was hesitant to give this biography a try because I was afraid it would be the usual run-of-the-mill biography that didn't reveal much more than I already knew. I am glad to say that I was completely wrong.

'Like An Icon' is not perfect. It's strange; it covers Madonna from birth through motherhood, from the debut self-titled 'Madonna' album through the very early stages of 'Hard Candy'. I expected the more recent material, perhaps the 2000s onward, would be the most revealing due to the access of information. This is not the case. The most telling chapters of the book are of early, pre-fame Madonna. We learn of her parents, of her relationship with her mother and her issues with her father and brothers, all of which are reflected in some of her modern songs. We learn of Madonna's sexual assault, and how she manages to embrace sex later on in her career in an attempt to profit from it. The book reveals back stories of many of her albums and individual songs, making for a very interesting read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Olivia Stabler VINE VOICE on June 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book was very informative with new information that I never knew about Madonna who is such a legendary artist. I really enjoyed delving into Madonna's life, but sometimes the author got too informative such as a big chunk of text about Catholicism. If I wanted to read about that, I'd pick up the Bible. The book is worth the time to read, but you'll definitely have to skim over a lot of "fluff" at times.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nuno Lopes on April 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is great! Buy it NOW! The author reviews Madonna's life and music while talking about her own growing up listening to M's tunes! Madonna's music makes the people come together and really is the OST of our lives! Like an icon? Absolutely!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By w.s. on February 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Madonna: Like An Icon" is probably the most insightful book about Madonna that I've ever read. It's not a trashy unauthorized biography, it is a serious look at Madonna as an artistic force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, that may not be something everyone is into, because many people would rather buy into the myth of Madonna as a man-eating, sex-crazed control freak. The author of this book, Lucy O'Brien, has said that too many biographies of the icon have focused on her sex life and her image-changing at the expense of her work. Beneath the sometimes superficial facade, Madonna's work has a depth and sociological resonance that many people underestimate or fail to understand.

However, to be fair, this is not exactly a biography. But what's the point of a "Madonna biography" by now? Her life is the stuff of myth that even casual fans are familiar with. Instead, O'Brien only focuses attention on Madonna's personal life when it relates to her art, her passion and her identity as an artist. It's more of a character study, and a very insightful one. Her mother's subservience, religious fanaticism, and untimely death made Madonna reject traditional values. Although this is well-known by now, O'Brien adds dimension and legitimacy to this theory. The sexual assault she faced in New York compelled her to project an image of assertiveness and control, in order to prevent losing control and facing attack again. This dominating attitude was reflected in her work, constantly turning the tables on men in the game of sex. The details on her love life were also only mentioned when they related to her music.
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