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Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley Paperback – May 2, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Probably the finest biography ever written about a popular musician. "-Joel Selvin," San Francisco Chronicle

About the Author

One of the most prominent music journalists of the twentieth century, Timothy White wrote extensively on Marley, reggae, and Caribbean music and culture for Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and other leading publications. His close contact with Marley and his family and inner circle of friends led to White being granted access to private papers, photographs, and memorabilia. White died in 2002.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; Rev Enl edition (May 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805080864
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805080865
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think that the background about Jamaican history provided in this book is interesting for those who have a wider interest in reggae and Jamaican culture but it does interrupt the flow of the biography about Bob. The author really could have edited down the amount of background info to good effect.

I am quite happy with the amount of info provided about Bob's childhood and adolescence. Very rewarding for painting a portrait of the artist. The only thing that was lacking was more color about the ten most interesting years of Bob's life when he was recording for Island! There are less than a hundred pages devoted to this period of Bob's life but more than a hundred devoted to the irrelevant BS that happened after he died. The most important time of his life was certainly glossed over.

That being said I still enjoyed the book (and this was my second time reading it) but if I ever re-read this book, I will remember to stop reading after the time when he died.

RASTAFARI!!!!!!!!
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Format: Paperback
I am glad to see that I wasn't the only one confused by this book. I really wanted to like this book! Especially since everyone else in the world seemed to adore it. However I came away confused and frustrating. I was pretty mad that they talked about his death so early in the book; i didn't think it was a good way to begin the book. I applauded his use of authentic language but found that a bit off-putting as well. Additionally, I too wanted some details about how he wrote some of his great songs. I had heard that he wrote "No Woman, No Cry" for Rita Marley and that he was near death. I guess that wasn't true, and wanted some clarity on the issue, but found none in the book. There was too much other stuff to contend with in the book. I wanted Bob's story, not all that other stuff
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Format: Paperback
The book title is also the name of the 1973 debut album on Island records for Bob Marley and The Wailers that brought the lyrics and sounds of reggae to an international audience.

Originally published two years after Marley's death from cancer, the biography remains a great read due to the exhaustive research by author Timothy White.

White had interviewed Marley from 1975-1981 and projects the development & growth musically, spirtually and politically in his life. White also interviewed musicians, friends, family members, music industry executives and poltical leaders, along with the typical research - newspaper articles and other media outlets - and not-so-typical - CIA documents concerning Marley.

There are also sections on Jamaican history & politics, the history of reggae & Rastafarianism and how White did his research.

Marley projected a militant spiritualism in his music that will remain timeless. Catch a Fire gives the reader an understanding and appreciation on why Marley's message means as much today as it did so many years ago.
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Format: Paperback
To begin, this book is wonderful; it is highly original; it reads like literature at times; it is vast and comprehensive; but, for all intents and purposes, it is flawed. It tends to give a greater or equal amount of attention to Jamaican cultural, political, and social history than to Marley's actual life. Admittedly, as the author is trying to assert and as the reader will also assume, the life of Marley and the history of Jamaica are inseparable and, thus, foundational when studying each other. But if you are looking for a book that will provide you with insight into who Bob Marley was as a person, as a singer-songwriter--how he crafted his music and lyrics--this is not for you. To his credit, White has written a fantastic book that is meticulously well-researched and informative, but that I cannot rate it the full five stars simply because of the book's title. To accurately represent the material inside, the title of this book should, without a doubt, be something like 'Bob Marley and the Rise of Jamaica' or 'Bob Marley in the Midst of Jamaican Struggle.' I would still recommend this book as a starting point for understanding the life of Bob Marley, but not as a definitive biography. Readers will need to read further.
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Format: Paperback
Short and sweet. This is an excellent book, meticulous in its detail. Perhaps a bit TOO meticulous. Those looking to confine their education to the life of Bob Marley are to find this more than tedious at times. Mr. White often goes off on tangents about political strife, the players in Jamaica's history, and other details unnecessary in the telling of Bob's story. Can some of this history be useful in understanding how his upbringing may have contributed to his genius? You can make an argument for that. For the casual reader who is interested in just the legend himself, this book could easily be pared down about 75-100 pages. Just when you think you've overcome those tangents and are about to sink into the meat of the story you've been looking to actually have been told to begin with, you are about halfway through the book already. Then, he goes off on another unwelcome tangent about the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion. Someone needs to write a Catch A Fire Cliffs Notes version of this book! I also find him speculating as to what people were thinking about the most mundane subjects that I can find no rhyme or reason for including or inquiring about to begin with. As stated before, the meticulous detail Mr. White goes into is no less than extremely impressive. He has clearly done impeccable research and spent incredible time on painstakingly reconstructing even the most minute detail that could have possibly contributed to Mr Marley's life and career. The question is...should he have?
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