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The Walrus and the Elephants: John Lennon's Years of Revolution Hardcover – December 3, 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Early praise from satirist, founding Yippie and Merry Prankster Paul Krassner:
“This book serves as a backstage pass to the missing link between Lennon’s music and his activism, ranging from decriminalization of marijuana to termination of undeclared war -- both ends of that spectrum fueled by the government’s misuse of power without compassion -- revealing how the Nixon administration tried to silence him.”
Paul Krassner, author of Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counterculture

"James Mitchell carefully and lovingly has reconstructed an inspiring and poignant chapter both in John Lennon's odyssey and in the tangled flow of the American anti-war and other protest movements of the late nineteen sixties and early seventies. The Walrus and The Elephants is an indispensable window into an amazing time in American history and the history of rock and roll."
—Danny Goldberg, author of Bumping Into Geniuses

About the Author

JAMES A. MITCHELL is the author of But for the Grace: Profiles in Peace from a Nation at War, the story of an orphanage in Sri Lanka’s war-torn northeast; the rock biography It Was All Right: Mitch Ryder’s Life in Music; and the tale of a rural newspaper, Applegate: Freedom of the Press in a Small Town). A reporter and editor for more than thirty years in New York, Michigan, and as a U.S. Army soldier-journalist, Mitchell has written on a wide range of subjects for newspapers and magazines including Entertainment Weekly, The Humanist, Video Business, and Starlog. In South Asia, Mitchell produced video features for CNN’s iReports. He lives in Southeast Michigan and works for a non-profit organization that supports the Grace Care Center for Children in Sri Lanka. Mitchell makes frequent appearances before community and civic groups regarding Sri Lanka, and has appeared on radio and TV shows to discuss Detroit rock and roll.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press (December 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609804678
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609804671
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,356,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not a biography of John Lennon nor a study of the Beatles. It is the story of John Lennon's most radical political phase which resulted in his most controversial and political album Sometime in New York City. It is a time in the US when opposition to the Vietnam War was at its height and some people on both the left and the right saw John Lennon as a potential leader in the anti-war movement. Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin were willing to use Lennon for their radical purposes and the paranoid Nixon regime along with J. Edger Hoover's FBI followed, bugged and harassed Lennon for they feared he could mobilize the young and potentially threaten the 1972 election. The height of the Nixon White House's war on Lennon was their fight to get him deported in the early 1970's.
James Mitchell has written a fascinating story of Lennon's radical politics and his fight to remain in the U.S. He interviewed remaining members of the radical NY band Elephants Memory. ( A good companion to this book is the more academic study by Jon Weiner on Lennon's politics as well as the film from a few years ago on Lennon and the FBI.) This book is part music history, part politics and part cultural history. Lennon's humanity is evident in the book as well as his playfulness. In one antecdote Lennon shows up for a rally in Anne Arbor Michigan and when he finds out that Stevie Wonder is there he is star struck. He said" You have to understand. Stevie Wonder is my Beatles." If you are interested in the 60's and 70's,politics, the Beatles and particularly John Lennon this is a must read. If you are familiar with the abuses of Wayergate this story of a government's fear of a musician will capture your attention.
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Format: Hardcover
A professional colleague’s son once summarized “Frankenstein” as “Scientist creates a monster, except that the true monster of the story is the scientist himself”.

This statement, with a little paraphrase, is the underlying message of James A. Mitchell’s “The Walrus & the Elephants: John Lennon’s Years of Revolution”. The government – clarify that to be “the Nixon Administration” – was very concerned about former Beatle John Lennon’s attempts at activism, as well as his potential influence among the 18-20 year olds who had just won the right to vote. He, along with so many others, made his way to Nixon’s infamous Enemies list. As such, the government spent a lot of time, money, and effort tracking his movements and building a case for his deportation – often sloppily, and in the end, ineffectually.

The main story, however, is about John Lennon, the man, and his days after the break-up of the Beatles. It talks about his desire to pursue music for music’s sake – as he no longer needed to do it purely for the money. It talks about his wanting to make a difference in society, to help right wrongs and to bring awareness to causes. And, it talks about his friends, both real and hangers-on, transient and permanent, that entered his life in the 70s.

The book provides an entertaining and an enlightening read, and I recommend it to all, with possible exception of fans of Richard Nixon or J. Edgar Hoover.

RATING: 4 stars

DISCLOSURE: I received this book at no cost as part of the Goodreads FirstRead program. There was no charge, but a fair and unbiased review is always an implied request as a part of that ongoing giveaway.
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Format: Paperback
Great Book. Step back into a crazy time when musicians were being trailed by the FBI. An era that wanted the message of peace to be heard. James Mitchell covers Lennon's love of New York and the troubles his message created for him. Great job.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well written account of John Lennon during the early 70's. I did a good job of informing the reader about what he was doing musically, politically and personally. It was interesting hearing of people he associated with.
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