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December 8, 1980: The Day John Lennon Died, the [Hardcover]

Keith Elliot Greenberg
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Dec 2010
In a breathtaking, minute-by-minute format, "December 8, 1980: The Day John Lennon Died" follows the events leading to the horrible moment when Mark David Chapman calmly fired his Charter Arms .38 Special into the rock icon, realizing his perverse fantasy of attaining perennial notoriety. "New York Times" bestselling author Keith Elliot Greenberg takes us back to New York City and the world John Lennon woke up to. The day begins with a Rolling Stone photo session that takes on an uncomfortable tone when photographer Annie Leibowitz tries to maneuver Yoko Ono out of the shot. Later Lennon gives the last interview of his life, declaring, I consider that my work won't be finished until I'm dead and buried and I hope that's a long, long time. We follow the other Beatles, Lennon's family, the shooter, fans, and New York City officials through the day, and as the hours progress, the pace becomes more breathless. Once the fatal shots are fired, the clock continues to tick as Dr. Stephan Lynn walks from the emergency room after declaring the former Beatle dead, Howard Cosell announces the singer's passing on Monday Night Football, and Paul McCartney is lambasted for muttering Drag, isn't it - his bereavement confused with indifference. The epilogue examines the aftermath of the killing: the considerable moment when 100,000 New Yorkers stood in silence in Central Park, the posthumous reunion of the Beatles in the studio - with George, Paul, and Ringo accompanying the recordings of their old friend - the unveiling of a bronze John Lennon statue in Fidel Castro's Cuba, and the durable legacy that persists today.

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December 8, 1980: The Day John Lennon Died, the + The John Lennon Letters: Edited and with an Introduction by Hunter Davies
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Backbeat Books (1 Dec 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879309636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879309633
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Keith Elliot Greenberg is a New York Times bestselling author and producer for America's Most Wanted. In addition to producing programs for VH-1, 48 Hours, MSNBC Investigates, the History Channel, and Court TV, among others, Greenberg has authored more than thirty non-fiction books and written for such outlets as Maxim, The Village Voice, The New York Observer, USA Today,, and US Weekly.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better books on this subject elsewhere 11 Jan 2011
Caught up in the 30th anniversary of Lennon's death I ordered this book for Christmas. But I have to say that it was quite a frustrating read, especially when compared to Ken Sharp's recent book on the making of Double Fantasy released around the same time. This author had little access to any new information. Hence we have the build up to the fateful shooting padded out with either regurgitated material on Lennon's career or speculation on what the other Beatles were feeling or doing on that day Decemeber 8, 1980. My advice is to stick with books which offer genuinely new information. I believe the author's attempts were honourable but the truth is he doesn't add anything of revelation to the wealth of material already out there from sources somewhat closer to the subject in hand. I enjoyed the background of what it was like to be back in NYC back on that day. But this is hardly the work of a Beatles Mastermind champion, or more importantly of someone who had an insider's track on the day's events. Not a disaster by any means but if you are buying one such book then look elsewhere is my advice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Walking on Thin Ice 5 Jan 2013
I always preferred early "rattle your jewellery" John Lennon to the activist - (and he admitted this himself towards his end) that he'd been a bit of an idiot, preaching about peace and love while completely ignoring his son Julian for years. But I wanted to know why my mother cried so hard at the kitchen table that day in late 1980. I've read a few books on the subject but this one stands out as it looks at all the people and events leading right up to the day of his assassination - including doctors, neighbours and police officers, which really puts you on the streets of New York at that time and really builds up to that awful moment. Whatever you thought of his music, or Paul, or Yoko, or John himself, it's still a tragedy.

Unfortunately Chapman got exactly what he wanted, his name now being forever associated with John's.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware of the shameless opportunist! 21 Nov 2010
By Kelly
Initially, I believed this book was going to be a fresh thematically focused look at the events and aftermath of the tragic 8th December 1980 murder of John Lennon. Indeed, with the 30th anniversary just around the corner - such an approach could have been the premise for a fresh retrospective read. However, this book is a major letdown and is predominately just another biographical filler with mostly regurgitated well known material.
Verdict: Be warned - it is a cynical world we live in folks! The 30th anniversary of John Lennon's murder is just around corner and people are going to shamelessly try and profit off it and believe me this effort is shameless.
Do not buy this book on the pretence that it is a fresh look at the events surrounding the 8th December 1980. In my opinion, if you see 5 Star reviews like other Amazon customers have mentioned about this book on, I would be very sceptical about the source as most likely it is someone with a vested interest trying to push the hard sell. Don't buy the snake oil folks!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I recently had the pleasure of attending a launch event in London for this book, at which Keith Elliot Greenberg explained that his aim was to write an account of that terrible day from the perspective of the city where John had made his home for almost a decade, and where he had become a welcome and loved figure. No startling new revelations were promised, and so I was not disappointed when I read this book.

On that basis, "December 8 1980" works very well on two levels - it does indeed give the reader a flavour of having been written in a "New York state of mind", and also, for those who have not carried out extensive reading on the subject, or perhaps are too young to remember what happened and how, the book gives a pacy, conversational account of the lives that converged on, and the events and circumstances leading up to, that fateful day.

As someone to whom John Lennon has been a hero and inspiration, warts and all, for 40 years, I have read virtually every book on John and his all too short life, but "December 8 1980" still comes across as fresh and, notwithstanding the tragic subject, a thoroughly absorbing read.

Particularly effective are the chapters dealing with the aftermath of, and fallout from, John's death. Paul McCartney, unjustifiably slated in the press at the time for his "drag, isn't it?" utterance the following day when these were clearly the words of a man in deep shock at the death of his friend (have a look on Youtube), is compassionately dealt with, as is poor George Harrison whose fears for his own safety following John's slaying were realised years later when he was attacked and nearly killed in his own home.

As a "Lennon specialist", I can thoroughly recommend "December 8 1980"
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  30 reviews
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Disappointment 29 Oct 2010
By Jeffrey R. Copeland - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is deceptive. The title and jacket sleeve indicates the book is about December 8th 1980. In fact, only a rather small portion of the book details the events of 12/8/80. The rest of the book is filler covering the same history of John Lennon we've read many times before. I wish the author would go back and rewrite this book with the focus being on 12/8/80 only. If he made the effort, a great book could be had.
27 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Eerie portrayal of a life unfinished..." 9 Oct 2010
By Thomas Moody - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Many Beatles fans, I'm sure, had trouble with John Lennon's seemingly newfound life in the late 1970's when he'd discovered 1) that, irrespective of his early seventies drug induced personality and "lost weekend" antics, he truly loved Yoko Ono and wanted to spend eternity with her and 2) that a whole new vein of music was slowly evolving in his mind, given this newfound serenity, and it was music well removed from that of the Beatles...that is to say that the notion of a reunion now seemed a distant non-starter. With Lennon's release of "Double Fantasy" in October, 1980, a new, non-Beatles idealism was growing and Lennon, to some, seemed to have reinvented himself on the world music stage. To a small faction, however, this new musical direction and seemingly tranquil lifestyle drove a wedge into the endless enchantment that Beatles fanatics, in hopes of a reunion, were guilty of and, as Keith Greenberg points out in this excellent crime drama wrapped around an intimate portrayal of Lennon's late 70's life as well as a plausible post-Beatles explanation for their breakup, explains, perhaps, some rationale for Mark David Chapman's horrid and completely self-centered and selfish act. Combining thorough investigation with intimate and sincere moments in the life of John and Yoko, Greenberg pens a step by step account of that fateful day and the aftermath that brings a fresh and nuanced look at this seminal moment in music history.

Intertwining chronological events of December 8th 1980 with categorical memories of the Beatles era, Greenberg constructs the whole of Lennon's life out of seemingly fragmented parts. We see the demise of the Beatles, the deep convictions for a fair and meaningful universal peace and, of course, the music. First with the Plastic Ono Band and then with self titled albums, Lennon composes some of the seventies most influential music, all the while still trying to "find" and define himself personally as he matures. The literary result is a marvelous and seamless narrative that takes the past and gives an ethereal context to that day and its aftermath.

Chapman's psychosis is also clearly on display here as Greenberg has clearly done his due diligence and presents a fair and compassionate account of Chapman who's personae is riddled with self doubt and destructive tendencies all the while being harbored by his ever present copy of "Catcher In The Rye". Chapman then is shown sliding (some would say becomes uncovered) ever so surely into the maniacal personality that, in the end, reveals the true danger that he possessed all along and one that he brought to bear on that fateful night.

I would say that the only critique of this work that I can muster is that Greenberg's post assassination coverage of the grief extolled by all Lennon's intimates is, at times, schmaltzy and a bit overdone. This is especially true when explaining Paul McCartney's "Drag, isn't it?" remarks in the immediate aftermath of Lennon's death.

All told though, Greenberg is able to take a clear veneration of the Beatles and Lennon, in particular, and turn it into an excellent investigative account that doesn't lose the literary touch that great books need. I would definitely recommend this to all readers.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not good 20 Jun 2011
By daven - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
I read about half of this book and gave up. If you have ever read any half way decent bio of lennon or the beatles, you will learn nothing new here.
Secondly, even if there was anything new here it is painful to read. this book seems like it was written by a first year journalism student. brutal!
13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Something strange is happening here... 21 Nov 2010
By Kelly - Published on
Something strange is happening here! It is more than a little peculiar how the majority reviewers who have given this book a 5 star rating all have only one review if you check on their user names. Wow, this book must have really inspired a lot of people - well I don't think so!

It looks to me like the author/publisher is pretty busy pushing this book or it must be good to have friends and family to canvas on your behalf - is it not? Some people are just shameless.
Save your hard earned money folks because this book is a rip-off - do not buy it!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what it says it is 26 Oct 2011
By K. Knight - Published on
I found this book in a used book store and as a Lennon fan I picked it up. It's a little all over the place. Very little of the book actually deals with the events of Dec. 8, 1980 and the parts of it that do come mostly from neighbors/members of the public/police officers. I wanted more detail from the recording session and from the interview/photo shoot that occured earlier in the day. Maybe the people involved in those events didn't want to talk about them (and that's understandable) but those insights would have made the book more worthwhile.

The title of this book is misleading as it more of a summary of people's lives leading up to Dec. 8 (John, Yoko, the neighbors, the other Beatles, police officers, the killer). In fact, it's a pretty bare-bones summary at best. There's also very little about the events after the shooting.

It's not the worst book ever written about Lennon, but it's also not worth the $10 price tag. If you're a fan, you'll probably want to pass this up.
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