43 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Most personal biography on Bruce I've read,
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This review is from: Bruce (Hardcover)
In some ways, this biography is a rehash on the biography's by Dave Marsh (Born to Run and Glory Days), but what Marsh didn't give us, this book does, an intimate account of Bruce's early life in New Jersey, to include dealing with a Manic Depressant father, which fueled Bruce's loneliness (but gave us wonderful songs) and some very personal behind the scenes accounts of life on E-Street.
I've been a fan for nearly 40 years and Bruce has kept his personal life very guarded, which is ok with me and I respect that, but the effect of that has been a vision of Bruce constructed only from what his machine gave us.
What I enjoyed most about this book was the details of his early life. I've grown up with Bruce through his stories about his relationship with his father as told on stage and through his songs, but those only paint a picture of a father and son not getting along, as most fathers and sons don't. The fact that Mr. Springsteen suffered from depression (and I would even bet it was PTSD from the traumatic loss of his sister from a horrific accident when they were young) has given me a whole new perspective to what a young Bruce, his Mom and his sisters must have endured. His father wasn't just a stern, hardened man of the era wanting his son to pursue a noble profession, he was a deeply hurt man isolated and unable to connect with his family. This kind of depression went largely undiagnosed in those days and people had to deal with it the best they could, not truly knowing what was wrong. Bruce's way of dealing with it was in words and music. A lot of teenagers are attracted to strapping on a guitar and being in a band just because it made you cool and you got all of the girls. Bruce strapped on that guitar to escape a fate he didn't want anything to do with.
Especially precious were the details about Bruce and his relationship with his paternal grandparents, who basically raised him as a young child. They doted over him obsessively, much to the frustration of his mother. I enjoyed the same relationship with my grandparents so I understood and related to this part of Bruce's life. It made me smile reading it.
The rest of the book of Bruce's rise to stardom I've read before, but what I didn't read about was some of the darker parts of life with Bruce by his band mates. For years, life on E-Street looked like pure Heaven on earth, playing in one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time, with one of the greatest rock and roll artist of all time.
All said, this book is perfect for the long time fan because we connect with Bruce on a level not enjoyed, nor understood by the casual fan. The casual fans may enjoy the book, but I don't think will appreciate those intimate details as they are not connected to the songs.
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Initial post: Apr 18, 2013 3:00:34 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 1, 2013 12:18:07 PM PDT
I hardly read the entire book because I just wasn't in the mood for a discussion of an entertainer's career, but I loved the first chapter. Bruce's grandparents are fascinating personalities in and of themselves, his too-ambitious maternal grandfather (more reminiscent of John Gotti and Bernie Madoff than Joe Sixpack and Joe Hill) and his depressed paternal grandfather. And their love was heartwarming. Somewhere else, I read that Grandpa Zerilli would put Bruce on his lap, and tell him stories of Old World Italy, so I guess he eventually morphed into a sweet, old-fashioned grandfather.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that this book has family photos. The picture of Bruce dancing with his sister when they were both toddlers was just too adorable!!!
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