If you don't already know too much about Axl Rose and Guns 'n' Roses, this is a very informative read. On the other hand, there's nothing here that's really new. Most, if not all, of the information is from secondary sources (published articles and interviews, website posts, etc.) rather than original research. It's as much a biography of the original members of Guns 'n' Roses as about W. Axl Rose. Their stories are inextricably interwoven--it's only to be expected that a bio of Axl will cover a lot of GNR territory; however, as the title promises a bio of Axl, I was expecting a little more than I got. It's tempting to compare this book with the recently published biography of ex-GNR guitarist Slash, but I won't, because Slash was cool enough to give us a window into his own life in the writing of that book and was completely on board with its content, while this bio of Axl is, as the title says, unauthorized.
It does cumulate to some degree the timeline of Axl's *still* unreleased CD Chinese Democracy, and I came away with a slighly better understanding of the mystery behind its perpetual delay. Writer Mick Wall also covers the known facts of Axl's seclusion and the emotional and legal entanglements of the years following the disintegration of the original Guns 'n' Roses, the evolution of the "new" Guns 'n' Roses, and the persistent striving toward perfection that seems to inform (and torment) every choice made by Axl Rose.
While this is a worthwhile read for anyone who wants to know something about the provocative frontman to one of the world's biggest rock bands and how it all went down, as a biography W.A.R. fails to meet its own challenge. True biography requires much more in-depth research into the biographer's subject, with input from the primary players in the life of the subject, from the subject him/herself when possible, and it requires a willingness to delve in a balanced, serious way into the influences and motivations of the subject in order to see the large framework of a life and its influence, and what that life can contribute to our understanding of ourselves and the world we inhabit. Axl and his raw genius deserve as much. Hopefully his story will one day be told with the honesty it deserves.