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Who I Am: A Memoir Hardcover – October 8, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (October 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062127242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062127242
  • ASIN: 0062127241
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (540 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Intensely intimate…candid to the point of self-laceration…[Townshend’s] tone is less lofty than anyone would have expected, just as this book is more honest than any fan would have hoped.” (Rolling Stone (Four 1/2 Stars!))

“Mr. Townshend’s self-portrait is raw and unsparing...as intimate and as painful as a therapy session, while chronicling the history of the band as it took shape in the Mod scene in 1960s London and became the very embodiment of adolescent rebellion and loud, anarchic rock ‘n’ roll.” (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times)

“Unusually frank and moving…[Who I Am] isn’t one of those rock memoirs that puts the what before the why. His past is a puzzle Mr. Townshend is sweating to decipher.” (The Guardian (UK))

About the Author

Pete Townshend is the legendary lead guitarist and principal songwriter for The Who, one of the most influential rock-and-roll bands of all time. He is one of Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. He resides in West London, where he was raised.


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Customer Reviews

It feels like he wrote the book for himself as much as he did it for us, which makes it even better.
K. Shay
Book is very disjointed throughout where it looks like he is giving details then drops a fact in the makes you realize he left so much out.
Anthony W. Arnold
I did some research on the two albums and saw that Pete Townshend was behind the music and lyrics of the band.
Andrew LeGlue

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

121 of 135 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Jefferson TOP 100 REVIEWER on October 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If you read this memoir for all the events in Pete Townshend's life, you're missing the main thrust, the larger picture, of this book. This is not about all the many (albeit interesting and fascinating) stories Townshend lays out, but more about how these events affected him. Townshend has opened up his life-both personally and professionally-in able to (hopefully) tell us and himself just who he is. "...I both want this book to entertain, but also to convince". Pete Townshend.

This clearly written, straightforward book (separated into three "Acts") lays out, in a matter of fact style, everything that has made (and is still making) Townshend who he is. He is at times brutally honest in his writing. At other times he seems to be more removed from the events he talks about. You may at times agree or disagree with what he writes. But taken together, this is one of the most honest attempts to paint a picture of one's self and the things that he's experienced, that any artist has written. The book is always fascinating, and sometimes riveting to read, but it's not openly self-analytical. From his beginnings through his life in music-everything is laid out as Townshend remembers it. Of course The Who and that part of his life are interesting and informative, and are naturally a large part of the book, and go some way in helping to explain who Townshend is. But all aspects of his life he writes about help fill in the gaps for a better picture of Townshend.

"This is as much a note to myself as one to you. It's all the same thing. If in doubt, just play". Pete Townshend.

The sixteen pages of photographs (in two sections) is helpful and adds depth and some interest to the story.
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Philip S. Wolf on October 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The story of Pete Townshend and his band The Who have been documented in dozens of books already and when news began to circulate early in 2012 that Pete was (at last) preparing this book for publication there was a mixed reaction that ranged from: "Well at last he's gonna tell his side of the story" to: "Oh, no! How is he gonna put his foot in his mouth this time?" and there is good reason for that later response as Pete has a habit of saying such ridiculous things to the media in the past it has made many a bad situation much worse after his comments were printed.

Well, after finishing this more than 500 page document of Pete's life it reads as an amazing journey of total entertainment and the touchy subjects (the deaths of Keith Moon and John Entwistle, Cincinnati) were handled with care and style and as Pete is still trying to tell all he is now looking back and in reflection telling his story with plenty of heart. I Thank his editors for doing their job as word warriors in keeping Pete somewhat under control here. We are not reading a 2000 page drama of Pete rambles that he just may have turned in before this was trimmed and presented in the more streamlined fashion that can be found here. This is overall insight of Pete's life with 200 pages of story told AFTER the death of Keith Moon in 1978.

All the normal stuff already featured in all the other books already published (from Geoffrey Giuliano's horrible: "Behind Blue Eyes" published from 1996 to a very good 600 pager: "The Life Of Pete Townshend" from Mark Wilkerson in 2008.
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63 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Paul McGrath on January 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
If one is interested in reading Pete Townshend's autobiography, chances are one is a huge fan of the Who, especially their music in the sixties and seventies. Of course one would also be expected to be a fan of or at least very interested in the other members of the band: Entwistle, Daltrey, and Moon. Lastly, as a fan of the Who, one is likely to have encountered the numerous myths and legends surrounding the band and its activities over the years. The autobiography of Townshend, who was their brilliant songwriter and lyricist, would therefore seem to be holy grail for the legions of Who fans out there yearning for more. Unfortunately, this book sheds little light on anything and is in fact a dreadful slog.

The most serious problem is that he barely talks about the music at all. Sure, there are a few nice moments. "A Quick One," for example, sprung out of his feeling of abandonment when his parents unceremoniously sent him to live with his grandmother when he was six years old. The first lines of "Cut My Hair," came from some reflections he wrote concerning his quest for spirituality and his feeling that the Who was holding him back. The song, "Sensation" was written to a girl named Rosie with whom he had a brief affair after discovering that she, too, was a follower of Meher Baba. This is great stuff; exactly the kind of thing the reader is looking for.

But there is just not enough of it. Some Who fans think Quadrophenia was the Who's greatest achievement and perhaps the greatest rock and roll album of all time. But the songwriting and the musicianship are barely mentioned. Most of the discussion has to do with the state-of-the-art recording studio that was set up for it.
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