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Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music - The Definitive Life Hardcover – September 20, 2011

3.6 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This exhaustively researched life of the Beatles' chief cynic, John Lennon, aims to get beneath the surface gloss ... a compelling account" -- Mark Edmonds The Sunday Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Tim Riley has made a career as a media and music critic. Rock critic for NPR, Tim is the author of Tell Me Why: A Beatles Commentary (Knopf/Vintage 1988), Hard Rain: A Dylan Commentary (Knopf/Vintage1992, Da Capo 1999), Madonna: Illustrated (Hyperion 1992), Fever: How Rock'N'Roll Transformed Gender In America (St. Martin's/Picador 2005); and has contributed to Newsweek and The Washington Post, among other publications. He was Brown University's Critic-in-Residence in 2008 and currently serves as a Journalist-in-Residence at Emerson College.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; First Edition edition (September 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401324525
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401324520
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,051,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is the umpteenth Beatles/Lennon bio I've read. Is there anything new, given that whoever the latest Beatles biographer is, part of his task is to find several people connected to the story who haven't been interviewed yet? Yes indeed. Multiple examples: Apparently even John's kindergarten kicked him out for being a disruptive bully. Aunt Mimi claims that John read most of the literary classics by age 10; even if she meant `by 15', this would make John an extraordinarily precocious reader by today's standards. And boy, Aunt Mimi could be cruel. Once after a row, when John fled to his mother's house vowing not to return, Mimi had his beloved dog Sally put down on the pretext that there would be no one around anymore to walk Sally. Allan Williams, the Beatles' first quasi-manager and possibly John's first substitute father from outside the extended family, had an oriental wife. Hmmm. Pete Best was dumped mostly because he wasn't mentally quick enough; one `thick' Beatle would have undermined their collective image. Brian Epstein met with Walt Disney to discuss the Beatles performing songs for the upcoming `Jungle Book' movie, but John, mercifully, nixed the idea. When John was dejected and morose circa 1966, he would compensate by going on shopping sprees to fill up his house with stuff he'd mostly never look at again; he would do likewise in the late 1970s for the same reason. Apparently it was John who came up with the title and conceptual drift for `Yesterday', a highly significant contribution. John got Magic Alex to do some of his dirty work for him, especially entrapping Cynthia in a situation amenable to adultery charges, albeit phony ones; as reward John bought Alex a new Mercedes, just as Elvis pampered his `Memphis mafia' cronies.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
A good effort, but of all the Lennon biographies out there (and I've read almost all), this one gets mired down in musical details that couldn't hold my interest. The account of Lennon's Liverpool origins is well researched and flows well; this section gets the book off to a good start. After that, the account goes downhill, with too much focus on lengthy interpretive analyses of late 50's and early 60's rock & roll/jazz/blues/Beatles' music, at the expense of the biographical details that I believe most readers would find more intriguing. I do appreciate the foot notes that document the source of the text material (something that is lacking in most Beatles/Lennon biographies, especially the recent tome by Bob Spitz). Sad to say, I had to put this book down when I was less than half way through, something I have never done with any other Lennon biography - it was simply too tedious and boring. I wish I had saved my money.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book title is Lennon but....it is more of a book about what was happening during the time of the Beatles and during John's life.
Good note is that this is the best version of John Lennon's early life in Liverpool. Many different and new revelations and stories are very interesting and refreshing.
When the Beatles hit it big in 1964 the book turns away from Lennon and starts discussing the Beatles, each Beatle individually, the music, and other music of the time. Certain references, e.g. gargage band, are used over and over and over.
The book should be titled "The music of the 60's." Almost 3/4 of the book is not specifically about John Lennon. It's that John Lennon happens to be in the Beatles and it is their references made. It's not his music but their music. This 400 page book could actually be 150 pages but the redundant references are major and aggravating.
I was not expecting a book about McCartney's work on his songs from each album or an album review of every artist who put out an album the same time the Beatles did. It is a critique of each album against others.
The writer, Riley, never stays focued on Lennon. In his solo years anyone who was in contact of John Lennon gets a mini biography and it's sooo frustrating.
While disappointing it is not without some hope. The 2 stars represent it is not a book souly about John Lennon but an ok book just as well.
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By Jessi on March 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I received this book for Christmas, and I finally finished it two days ago (March 19th, 2012). Now this is a large book, but I am an avid reader who frequently breezes through 800 page books in a week or less. So let me tell you my personal pros and cons of this book:

Pros:
*The prose and writing style of this book reads exceptionally well.
*The chapters preceding the Beatles "middle period" were fascinating. I found myself zipping through the first 200 pages as if they were nothing, because I was SO engaged and interested. The opening chapters are literally the only thing that saved this book from that dark place in my closet where I keep books that I've given up on and never intend to read again.
*The author does an admirable job of telling an extremely complicated story and does provide details that even I didn't know, and I am a huge Beatlemaniac.

Cons:
*Way too much information. Sure this IS a biography so we do want to know as much as possible about the subject, but Riley manages to pack so much information onto a page that it quickly becomes overwhelming. The trick that I've noticed with the dozens of biographies that I've read is to give the reader enough information to keep them interested, engaged, and reading. But a reader should never resort to forcing themselves through 400 pages of a book.
*Way too little information about Lennon's relationship with his first family (wife Cynthia, and son Julian). It's common knowledge that John wasn't very involved with his first family, but I found myself desperate for even a brief mention of Cynthia and Julian so that I knew they hadn't died or disappeared off the face of the Earth.
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