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John Lennon: The Life


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About the Author

Philip Norman was born in London and brought up on the Isle of Wight. He joined the Sunday Times at 22, soon gaining a reputation as Atticus columnist and for his profiles of figures as diverse as Elizabeth Taylor, Little Richard and Colonel Gaddafi. Author of the UK and US bestseller SHOUT!, he has also written the definitive lives of Sir Elton John and Buddy Holly. Named as one of the twenty Best Young British Novelists early in his career, whilst he resists classification as a "rock biographer", a musical theme pervades almost all of Philip Norman's work including the highly acclaimed John Lennon: The Life, which the Sunday Times Culture Magazine called 'Meticulously researched, compulsively readable book.' He is married with a daughter and lives in London.


Norman (Shout!: The Beatles in Their Generation) offers a grand, comprehensive, yet sprightly biography of the late Beatle. His sympathetic but sharp treatment captures Lennon's charm and charisma, but also his cruelty to loved ones, his rebel posturings, his resentment of Paul McCartney's matchless songwriting powers and growing dominance of the band, his debaucheries, his drunk and disorderlies, his shoplifting and his Oedipal yearnings. Norman is a smart analyst of pop music and its cultural setting and a scintillating miniaturist of Beatlemania. (He likens the band's trademark shriek-inducing hair-shakings to "manic feather-dusters.") He manages the difficult trick of loving Lennon's music without swooning over it, pronouncing "Strawberry Fields" both a great song and "crafted druggy gibberish." Lennon emerges as a bright, troubled, insecure man who grasped at profundity and occasionally touched it; from Norman's portrait, we see why so many consider him a soul mate. Photos. (Oct.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

`Reading this book brings the John Lennon I knew vividly back to life.' Bill Harry, founder of Mersey Beat

`This is the best Lennon book so far' The Word

`Norman has written about Lennon twice before but he has uncovered much new material in his research for this impressive and highly readable book... It is greatly to Norman's credit as a biographer that he does justice to all of (Lennon's legacy) in a book whose 854 pages simply fly by.' Sunday Times Culture

`Can there be more to find out (about Lennon)? And, can Philip Norman, the author of the new 300,000 word John Lennon: The Life, be serious when he tells The Word magazine, "Lennon deserves a real biography, as if he were John Keats or Mahatma Ghandi. Not a pop person but a major towering presence in his century?" The answer to both questions is empahatically yes...And yes, Norman has unearthed some startling things.' The Independent

'Although more than 800 pages long, this book is nicely paced, well researched and will not disappoint.'
Glasgow Evening Times

`Reading this book brings the John Lennon I knew vividly back to life.'
Bill Harry, founder of Mersey Beat

'This is the first serious Lennon biography for 20 years and unlike Albert Goldman's bilious effort in the 80s, Norman's style is trustworthy, contextual, and plainly told, yet with enough splashes of historical colour...'
The Times

`A well-written book and almost everything you could want to know [about Lennon] is in there.'
Oxford Times

The New Statesman called the book 'magnetic'.

'Philip Norman's style is compelling', Irish Times

'Norman's mesmerising biography'. Irish Examiner

`Meticulously researched, compulsively readable book.'
Sunday Times Culture magazine

`The Rock biography of the Year.'

`The best all-round Lennon biography.'
Sunday Herald Magazine

This extensive, thoroughly researched biography traces the life of John Lennon, who, nearly 30 years after his murder, remains one of the most intriguing and respected figures in popular music. Novelist and biographer Norman, who recounted the story of the Beatles in Shout!, focuses here on Lennon's life outside his legendary band, with particular emphasis on his subject's tumultuous, unconventional childhood, his strange and sometimes shocking relationships with and attitudes toward his parents, and his two very different marriages. Lennon's treatment of his discarded first wife and long-suffering, seafaring father are examined in rich detail, shedding new light on his complex personality. Norman investigates both Lennon the public figure and, more interestingly, Lennon the private man, revealing a uniquely talented and influential artist and activist who suffered from sometimes debilitating insecurity and abandonment issues that haunted him throughout his life. Exclusive new commentary from Yoko Ono, Paul McCartney, and sundry confidants and family members provides fresh insight to this accessible albeit lengthy work of popular biography. A highly recommended addition to any public library's music or biography collection. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/08.]--Douglas King, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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