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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 August 2016
If you're a fan of John Lennon - of his music, art and writings - then I highly recommend this book. It's beautifully presented, as a large hardback publication. It presents nearly 400 pages of 'letters' (from correspondence to postcards to jottings and notes) written by Lennon, from his youth through to adulthood. These letters are accompanied by a commentary written by Beatles expert Hunter Davies, who edits and introduces this text.

The letters themselves are photocopied and reproduced (although typically in a smaller size than the original documents), and then Davies presents a typed version of Lennon's hand-writing. Everything from love letters to fan mail is included, expressing thoughts, feeling, ideas, opinions, humour, and so much more. Obviously Lennon never intended for this material - or, at least, much of it - to be published. These letters are not great prose - yet occasionally we get glimpses of Lennon the poet and wordsmith. The most important aspect of this publication is that it allows us entry into Lennon's personal life ... although one might question whether this ought to be permitted.

It's an enjoyable read, and it offers the chance to feel 'connected' to Lennon in a rather intimate manner. If this possibility interests you, then I recommend the item.
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on 6 August 2017
very good
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on 19 August 2017
Great book for people wanting to delve into the mind of Lennon!
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on 3 July 2017
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on 28 December 2012
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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on 19 January 2013
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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on 13 May 2013
A hefty book at a hefty price (pick it up cheaply!) this would be worth the top price if it did in fact contain lots of letters. It doesn't. As has been pointed out elsewhere (I haven't read every review) these pieces range from the fascinating to the mind-bogglingly banal - shopping lists, requests for certain tasks to be done, etc.

On the plus side, they do reveal sides of Lennon's personality you don't often find in regular biographies. He comes across as more human, more caring, often more interesting, than the cliches about him that have been trotted out over the years. The bread-baking househusband or the anxious recluse? These scraps show John Lennon as a person.

Another plus, and what makes these 'letters' different from the usual letters collections, is that they were clearly not written for publication. That might sound obvious, but then John Lennon wasn't a writer, except of songs. Many letters collections are of writers whose main occupation was writing books, and who, you often suspect, wrote their letters like they wrote their journals; with an eye on future publication. This sometimes results in a selfconsciousness that is lacking here. Scraps they may be, but there is a freshness and honesty here that is most appealing. That said, for a hefty tome it's not one that will take you weeks to read!
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on 2 November 2012
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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on 11 October 2012
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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on 4 February 2013
This could have been so much better, but the fact that it's been badly subedited (so many mistakes in both the text and annotation) and that the last third of these 'letters' are little more than laundry lists mean that it rates three stars at best. A lifelong Lennon fan, I'm left wanting more.
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