On the surface, this looks like the worst kind of exploitative trash - sordid revelations about a dead rock star by a former assistant convicted of stealing his journals after his death. The inside cover of my paperback copy promises "shocking tidbits" about Yoko's affair with an art dealer and "John and Yoko's colossal shopping sprees." To top it off, Seaman kicks off the book by expressing special thanks to Albert Goldman, "a courageous and uncompromising journalist." But anyone who expects another grubby attempt to dig up the dirt on Lennon will be pleasantly surprised (or disappointed): this is a sober and readable account of the last eighteen months of the ex-Beatle's life. Even Lennon's official biographer, Ray Coleman, who dismissed all the other 'controversial' books (by Goldman, May Pang, John Green, et al) as rubbish, admitted this one had merit, even if Fred does commit the mortal sin of painting Yoko Ono in a less than beatific light. Indeed, John and Yoko's endless hyping of their mythical perfect relationship is revealed to be a front for a depressingly un-romantic situation: John needs Yoko for his emotional and financial security, Yoko needs John for her money and fame. How fast would Ono have been relegated to a footnote in the public eye had Lennon ever decided to finally divorce her? Lennon and Ono's wreck of a relationship isn't the main focus of the book, however; Fred emphasizes his own friendship with Lennon. As for critics who figure that Seaman was just a lackey and Lennon never would have confided in such a minor figure in his life, it's made more than clear in all the shelves of literature already published about Lennon that he was a great talker, and would use any excuse to bend your ear for hours about whatever subjects intrigued him at the moment. At one point, an incredulous Seaman watches as Lennon actually invites a pair of wide-eyed young Beatles fans who turn up at his front door into the kitchen while he pontificates on his favorite subjects: life and death. Lennon's musings on the death of his old hero Peter Sellers, his obsession with violent death and crucifixion, his strange diet, his views on religion, sex, and his love-hate relationship with Paul McCartney make for fascinating reading. We also see a striking contrast between John's obvious love for his second son Sean and his sad inability to reach out to his first, Julian. The trip to Bermuda where John finally regained his muse and began writing the songs for "Double Fantasy" is the focus of the most absorbing chapter of the book. It's as if we're seeing Lennon for the first time all over again, one moment calmly expounding upon the genius of Bob Marley and describing his incredible vision for his comeback album, the next exploding in a tantrum when he learns his wife has decided not to come see him after all. Seaman then describes the troubled Double Fantasy sessions and his own spiral into total despair following Lennon's senseless death. His description of his brief encounter with Lennon's killer - who appears to be no more than another harmless kid hanging around the entrance to the Dakota waiting for an autograph - only hours before the assassination can give you the chills. Disgusted by Yoko's eagerness to capitalize on John's death, Seaman quits, but not before deciding to deliver Lennon's journals to Julian, in accordance with John's wishes and entirely against Yoko's. Unfortunately, that plan went terribly wrong, as Fred explains in the last chapter of his book. The 'friend' he refers to who stole the diaries from him is apparently Robert Rosen, author of the recent "Nowhere Man," based on his 'detailed memories' of the journals he spent many days copying. Somehow, too, a copy of the journals fell into the hands of Geoffrey Giuliano, former Ronald McDonald turned self-proclaimed "world's foremost expert on the Beatles", a notorious hack whose latest opus, "Lennon In America", presents one of the least believable accounts of Lennon's life yet - apparently he slept with Linda McCartney and fantasized about Madonna several years before anyone had ever heard of her. As for Fred, he went on to assist Albert Goldman with his excellent but scathing Lennon biography and then to write his own memoir, probably the best of the lot. Read it and laugh, and weep, and ponder: what if Yoko had only scheduled that appointment with security for any date before December 9?