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The Cynical Idealist: A Spiritual Biography of John Lennon [Paperback]

Gary Tillery
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Quest Books,U.S.; Original edition (1 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0835608751
  • ISBN-13: 978-0835608756
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 325,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gary Tillery is the author of both fiction and nonfiction works.

His fascination with "the intellectual Beatle," John Lennon, led him to write The Cynical Idealist: A Spiritual Biography of John Lennon. The book was published by Quest Books in 2009 and has been translated into German, French, and Portuguese.

He followed up its success with a study of "the quiet Beatle," titled Working Class Mystic: A Spiritual Biography of George Harrison. Quest Books published the work in 2011.

Both books will soon be available in a Kindle edition.

A third book in the "Spiritual Biography" series, on Elvis Presley, will be available in 3Q 2013.

Fiction-wise, he has chronicled the adventures of "soft-boiled" detective Jack Savage in two comic novels -- Death, Be Not Loud and To An Aesthete Dying Young. The third book in the series is slated for publication in 2012.

He also published a collection of intertwined short stories set in Vietnam, Darkling Plain -- a book that examines the impact of America's most traumatic war on a young airman.

He has also published two volumes of poetry -- Through a Dark, Glassly, and 50 Epiphanies, a collection of haiku.

A native of the Southwest, Tillery was born in Phoenix in 1947. He served in Vietnam with the U. S. Air Force in 1968-69, then returned to earn a Bachelor's degree in Latin American Studies from ASU and a Master's degree from the American Graduate School of International Management.

After two decades in the business world, primarily as co-owner of an advertising agency in suburban Chicago, he turned his time and energy to his lifelong passion for literature and art.

Tillery is also a professional artist. His most prominent work is the sculpture for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Chicago. He also created the bronze bust of Steve Allen for the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood. He has displayed in galleries from Pennsylvania to New Mexico and appeared in shows as far away as Shanghai. His works are in the private collections of Patricia DuPont and General Tommy Franks, and the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago holds two pieces in its permanent collection.

Product Description

The Cynical Idealist A radio playlist could easily follow John Lennon's "Mind Games" with "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy." But comparing the two, it becomes obvious that Lennon had more in common with the great thinkers of any age than with the songwriters who were his contemporaries. "Cynical Idealist" reveals, for the first time, the spiritual odyssey of this extraordinary man. Out of a turbulent life, from his troubled, wor Full description

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book 25 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A lot has been published about John Lennon's failings, his genius, tempered by his demons. But this book covers what I believe to be his biggest contribution to humanity. He knew what people needed to do, and how people needed to think in order to bring the world to completion. On earth. Now. Not to do lots of great things on earth now, so that in some future, after-life world, we would create the perfect human experience. This book shows people how in practical terms Lennon was right up there with the truly great spiritual leaders.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Compleat John Lennon 27 Nov 2009
By Grady Harp - Published on
Gary Tillery has managed in this concise book to offer us a quality biography of the musical giant John Lennon, a biography as sensitive as any in print. Not only does he share the details of Lennon's chaotic childhood, suggesting the factors that built his adult self as an artist who was driven to discover the meaning in a world that seem to lack meaning. But wisely Tillery spends enough time with the personal traumas as well as the germinal events the resulted in the formation of the singing group the Beatles (a clever reference to the Beat generation in altering the beetle spelling!) and the changes that occurred with fame. The book also has a superb chronology that allows the reader to follow the important phases in this man's life and career.

But the book is not only a fine biography that makes the reader revisit the heyday of the Beatles, it goes much further than that. Tillery uses his matrix of an artist's life to unveil the development of the man who would become a popular philosopher especially among young people asking the same questions that Lennon explored. His wise but common street talk and his actions delved into the important issues of his time - challenging authority and instead searching for our own reality, that reality that allows of self-transformation, fostering the concept of world peace, supporting feminism, and changing the things we feel need revision. Though these ideals may sound simplistic, in Lennon's words and actions he stood for the kind of being that cared for mankind and would settle for nothing less than self improvement and involvement in the deeds that would improve not only his time but also the future.

What makes Gary Tillery's THE CYNICAL IDEALIST: A SPIRITUAL BIOGRAPHY OF JOHN LENNON important is the manner in which he writes: clarity of prose, reality of expression of analyses, and commitment to honor an important man of our times. As Tillery points out the other peace leaders - Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. - met the same end as Lennon, death by assassination or murder. Without resorting to puffery or hero worship, Tillery places Lennon's accomplishments with the arts as well as with the framework of political upheaval of his day to reveal a man who will be remembered not only for his prodigious talent, but also for his influence on philosophical thinking. This is a fine book that deserves wide readership. Grady Harp, November 09
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting 20 Nov 2009
By Rick N. Backer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A book worth reading and re-reading. Very Zen in that concepts so very, very simple are yet so insightful at the very same time. I sat down the first day I got it intending to read the first few chapters and stayed up, compelled until I finished it.
Beyond that, my wish would be that the entire world could read and digest it's message.
Mr. Tillery has done a fine job and is an excellent writer.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Can't Put Down Book 5 April 2010
By Joseph Faraci - Published on
I've read many a bio of John and The Beatles, and really saw no reason to read another, but I thought this book was coming from a perspective that was interesting. Once I began to read it I couldn't put it down. Gary Tillery takes some very deep concepts and simplifies them to their essence. This is the book that you can use when you try to explain to people born after 1970 just how influential John was to 20th Century thought.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read and top pick for fans of Lennon in general 12 Jan 2010
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
John Lennon is truly an enigmatic figure that baffles many. "The Cynical Idealist: A Spiritual Biography of John Lennon" tries to delve into the spirituality of one of the pens behind the Beatles, and his search for spiritual enlightenment late in his life. Drawing on philosophy from Socrates, and hating what he had become, a pop culture idol, Gary Tillery presents a very unique picture of Lennon. Analyzing his songs and actions, "The Cynical Idealist" is a fascinating read and top pick for fans of Lennon in general.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A somewhat cynical look at John Lennon's life 30 May 2010
By Joshua P. OConner - Published on
Let me start off by declaring my personal bias against the Beatles and John Lennon in general. I have always thought that while the Beatles were in fact revolutionary and changed the music scene in a number of ways, they got undue amounts of credit with respect to the way that it overshadows the accomplishments of other music revolutionaries. But that's simply a matter of personal preference. John Lennon always appeared somewhat angsty and hypocritical and his seemingly arrogant nature pushing me away from his political convictions (not that I've ever met the guy, I'm just speaking in a general sense regarding the retrospective on his ideas).

In his book The Cynical Idealist Gary Tillery examines the life and philosophy of John Lennon and manages to humanize the leftist supercelebrity. Tillery follows Lennon from his early pre-Beatles days exploring the events that shaped his world view and personal life perspective. Tillery goes to great lengths to avoid both demonizing and glorifying the existence of John Lennon and instead provides an insightful view of his actions and words in context.

Tillery captures the journey of Lennon in a way that shows the transition in his personal philosophy from heartbreak to revelation. The most interesting aspect of the book is understanding Lennon's disappointment as the role models that he attached himself to turned out to be nothing more than self-serving capitalist. The Cynical Idealist captures Lennon's most pithy quotes and captures the essence of the person that he was.

Looking at Lennon's life in a holistic manner changed my opinion or at least reduced my criticism of him. Stepping outside of the MTV characterization shifted my understanding away from his identity as a Beatle toward his individuality. He was not the deity that he is often depicted to be, but as Tillery points out he does have quite a bit to teach us about reaching for our dreams.
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