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The Lives of John Lennon Paperback – Dec 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 719 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press; New edition edition (Dec 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556523998
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556523991
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.7 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 443,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The result of six years of research and some 1200 interviews, this book takes fans deep into Lennon's secretive world, from his traumatic childhood to his Beatles days to his hidden life with Yoko Ono. While the Lennon of legend enjoyed a gifted and inspired life, the private Lennon lived in torment, poisoning himself with drugs and self-hatred. The book exposes for the first time all of his various lives, from idealist to cynic, from ascetic to junkie. It is a lasting tribute to his brilliant achievements and a revelation of the price he paid for them.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Antony on 6 Jun 2005
Format: Paperback
I'm quoting one of the reviews on the back of this book and it is a warning to some of the sort of Beatles fans who frequent fan clubs and Web forums. I know this from bitter previous experience of trying to start a debate on this and getting utterly cold-shouldered because the book trashed the reputation of 'our John'. I would tend to agree with the other reviewers in this section. It is a highly interesting and provocative read and is certainly in line with many other books that have subsequently been published. Of course, it is impossible for someone born in 1975 to have an inkling of whether any of this is true, i was 5 when he died,you can only go on gut feelings and other things you've read or heard.
So let me deal with a few points.
'Our John' trashed his own reputation repeatedly in interviews as he admitted to hitting women and massive LSD use. Ray Coleman's book, good as it was, didn't go into hardly any detail about drugs and seemed to suggest Lennon gave up everything by the mid 70's. So could he suggest why John looked so painfully thin at the end of his life? and why his nostrils were caving in more and more ( a very large clue to cocaine use). I think Goldman does overdo it though as he does on other points. He says Lennon was so weak from drug use by 1978 he could barely hold a guitar and he also suggests the Beatles were taking cocaine/heroin cocktails during Sgt Pepper. He also suggests Lennon was in a trance during Pepper and would snap out of it with an outburst. Where did these ideas come from? And how was Pepper so good and cohesive under these circumstances?
As far as sex goes, Pete Shotton's affectionate book revealed a lot about the Spanish holiday but again Goldman went over the top.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By ALP on 20 July 2006
Format: Paperback
I am a Lennon fan. So much so, that at the time of this books publication, I refused to read it on the grounds that Albert Goldman trashed the great man's reputation. 26 years after his murder and as a middle-aged man myself, still trying to make sense of Lennon's life and what he meant to me, and that of generations of fans, I realised that I had to read this and other such works to obtain a truly rounded picture of the great Beatle. What you have to put into context is that this book is the summation of over 1000 contributions.

Everyone has his or her own unique take on an event. How many times have you shared an experience, even with close friends and yet you find that each of you has a different recollection of the event?

The fact that Cynthia Lennon refused to be interviewed for this book only means that she had vested interest in publishing her own work. Had she collaborated with this book, it would surely have diluted her own sales.

Goldman makes some quite stunning revelations; He claims that Lennon was uncontrollably violent, rages that climaxed in near murder, and yet one such victim speaks of gross exaggeration; that Lennon was so uncoordinated that he could barely drive nor play the guitar well, a claim I put down more to the drink and drug abuse, rather than a physical affliction. Goldman also makes some blatant mistakes notably referring to The Magical Mystery tour movie as Sgt Pepper's lonely-hearts club band, to name but one.

Goldman doesn't really discuss the music in great depth, nor does he appear to try to understand Lennon.

By reading this and other works, you are able to get a better perspective, which enables you to make your own conclusion.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Andrew James on 1 Aug 2002
Format: Paperback
It is with some irony that this biography of John Lennon, when it was published in 1988, created such unease, it led to death threats to the author and its ritual burning at Beatles conventions. The book's subject, had he still been living may have sympathised. He provoked similar displays of hatred from Christian groups after he commented to an American journalist in 1966, that the Beatles were now more popular than Jesus Christ.
Such was the hatred for Goldman following its publication that he was virtually excommunicated from the music and publishing world. The case for the prosecution having now been drawn up in detail, the defence (backed by the rock establishment's heavyweights) went into action; McCartney called it a piece of trash (although it s unlikely that he read it). Elliot Mintz (Yoko Ono s Spin Doctor), then produced a rebuttal using evidence (at first convincing) that two of the sources were unreliable as they axes to grind, having fallen out of favour with John and Yoko.
Fourteen years on, maybe it is time for a reappraisal of this Satanic Verses of rock biography. Criticisms of the book have been well documented and are not without substance. It is often factually incorrect, the authoratorial tone appears excessively one-sided in his portrayal of both John and Yoko. Sometimes it is not clear if it is supposed to be read as a black comedy (although if it is, it succeeds; some of the passages are hilarious)and it is hard to imagine two living people that are alternatively, so twisted and so Maciavellian as the John and Yoko that are portrayed here.
However, there are many reasons why this book should be read. Unlike, say Ray Coleman s semi-official biography of Lennon, Goldman did not just take what John and Yoko said in public at face value.
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