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The John Lennon Letters: Edited and with an Introduction by Hunter Davies Hardcover – 9 Oct 2012


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The John Lennon Letters: Edited and with an Introduction by Hunter Davies + John Lennon: Imagine [DVD] [1988]
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (9 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297866346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297866343
  • Product Dimensions: 18.9 x 24.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By linda kellett on 28 Dec 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From seeing his first handwritten school magazine to letters to fans, postcards to friends/family and even shopping and to do lists for staff I felt that I got to know John lennon through this book. In chronological order throughout his life with drawings and photographs once I started reading this book I couldn't put it down (and it's a thick book). Fabulous!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 24 April 2013
Format: Hardcover
The joy of reading these letters and little pieces of text (especially the discussion of Imagine, or the angry rants to Paul McCartney) should deserve 5 stars! It's entertaining and revaling. Every serious Beatles fan should have it.

My problem is with the dog's breakfast that Hunter Davies has made of the edition ... Two things: Firstly, his transcriptions aren't accurate. Many wrong words and misreadings. 'These may be distorted' John Lonnon writes (discussing mixes of the Rock & Roll album), which Hunter Davies nonsensically transcribes as 'These may be disturbed' ... The instances where he says 'I can't decipher it', you usually have to look to the facsimile (fortunately provided!) and you can probably figure it out yourself. Secondly, as a long-term Betales fan I feel better informed about what certain references may be or what John Lennon is talking about than Hunter Davies. He may have a past of writing Beatles biographies, but still includes clunkers like stating that John Lennon was on stage for the Concert For Bangla Desh, and too often you just know he's got the wrong end of the stick.

I believe he opened a website where you can send corrections and suggestions - which may be admitting his own imperfection but certainly doesn't make this a better book!
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Solzhi on 11 Oct 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book has been harshly reviewed elsewhere, largely because, so they say, it is a tissue of trivialities, and publication of such flotsam and jetsam from John's decades' old correspondence proves that anyone who reads it with approval (much less publishes it) has given up on the present/future potential of art in the popular culture to innovate, transcend its influences etc. etc. ad nauseam.

Absolute rubbish, of course. For those who might be interested in this type of thing, this will be the type of thing they are interested in, and nothing more, nor less, than that.

To take it on its own terms, though - do not even pick up this book unless you have a deep interest in the biographical details of Lennon's life: it is possible to have such an interest, and still have some sort of a grip on the present, not to mention the future. But assuming you do have this interest, you are in for a treat. John never intended for any of this to be published, of course, but as a series of footnotes to a detailed reading of John's life, Lennon Letters is absolutely fascinating, and a good idea, well executed (in the main, and notwithstanding the odd blooper).

Most of the missives are reproduced in-situ, much care has been taken in the production (depite the odd lapse), and this is well worth yer attention, given etc. etc. ad nauseam.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark Twain on 19 Jan 2013
Format: Hardcover
As mentioned, this edition got mixed reviews in the mainstream press, and many said the letters were too trivial to be published. I completely disagree - if you're interested in Lennon, you're going to be interested in this stuff. The problem is not with the material itself but with the fact that they are heavily 'over-produced'. The letters are reproduced in facsimile but way too small. They are accompanied by a transcription which is not necessary in most cases as they are perfectly legible. The type is clunky and dominates the page, detracting from the visual appreciation. And there is way too much commentary. Occasionally this is useful - a letter from 1961 Hamburg to George Harrison's mum is put in context well. But I think that this could all have gone in the back of the book, so you can look it up when you need and not have it on every page. Not that Hunter Davies doesn't know his stuff - he's one of the most important writers on Lennon - but he's overegged the pudding here. So five stars for the material, two and a half for the editing.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Chapman on 2 Nov 2012
Format: Hardcover
People have been complaining about the quality of the paper in this book. I have my copy in front of me now and I can assure you it is very good. Thick and velvet to the touch.

It is unclear but I think the complaint is more to do with the way the letters are presented in the book. An A4 letter, hand written by john, might be reproduced about 3 times smaller than its original size. You can still read the letter very clearly and each letter has a typed transcript next to it to show what it reads (sometimes John Lennon's handwriting is unreadable so this is welcome). Also, other things aren't actual size (postcards etc). But a lot of care as gone into the layout of each page and for me personally this has not been a hindrance.

If everything was shown in full size the book would be about 3 times thicker and a lot of Amazon delivery men will be off sick with broken backs. Postman will be seen dragging the thing along the damp pavement behind them, or rolling them along felled tree trunks like druids. Eager dogs waiting at letter boxes will be crushed to death as the giant slab of Lennon came falling down on them, like a giant hardback tomb stone.

This book is excellent value for money (£10 at time of writing this review). And we shouldn't let these minor squabbles bring the star rating down. I don't know if you've checked the American Amazon site, but our friendly and excitable cousins have given the book, and the personal quality it brings to John Lennon's legacy, a healthy and strong five star backing while we are close to shunning it. Now, we can't have that can we.
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