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Madonna: Like an Icon Hardcover – November 6, 2007

3.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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

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

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; First Edition edition (November 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060898968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060898960
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,822,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This biography should have gotten Madonna seal of approval. 70% of the book is detailing every song of Madonna and how it was conceived. The rest about madonna personal life. Even when the author tried to cover the personal life of Madonna,she was not digging for dirt or trying to showcase any dark side of the artist. The book is good to know how Madonna become the artist that she is today.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Given the length and breadth of her career a simple chronological recounting of the facts of Madonna's time spent in the public eye could easily reach daunting proportions, so an attempt at both the facts combined with a bit of analysis on their possible deeper meaning must necessarily be somewhat abbreviated. Being that at various points throughout her long career Madonna has been a highly polarizing figure you may find the book's generally sympathetic point of view either a nice change or entirely too saccharine. Generally it's a good overview that avoids the type of unfounded assumptions many writers seem to make when discussing the Material Girl. Generally. For some reason O'Brien spends a great deal of time making the point that a photo shoot done in 2005 at Madonna's then estate in the English countryside was somehow indicative of a deeper desire on her subject's part to become a de facto English Lady of the Manor. What's strange about this is that the author discusses many of Madonna's other famous photo projects throughout the book but never makes the sort of leap she does here. For example, she discusses a 2006 photo shoot with Steven Klein in which Madonna appeared in full equestrian regalia but doesn't then argue this was a desperate attempt to make herself over in "real" life. The author generally does a good job collecting interviews from various co-workers from throughout Madonna's career to add to the conversation, but there are two glaring omissions. First, Madonna had the same manager, Freddy DeMann, from her 1983 debut up until roughly 1997 but he is barely mentioned here, and second O'Brien has nothing to say about Madonna's relationship with her longtime record label Warner Bros.Read more ›
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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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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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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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