As someone who will read anything about or by U2, i picked this up randomly and found myself surprised but intrigued. It turns out to be quite a work of deep Christian theology - which is I suppose a fair reflection of the way U2 songs provoke thought, inspiration and fervour. And so it might not immediately appeal to someone who is not theologically minded - but i would recommend perseverance (not least because the book is only 100 or so pages).
For the main thesis of the book is that U2's extraordinary album Achtung Baby is a profound exploration of what it means to live in a fallen and lost world, where relationships fracture. Even the most celebrated song on the album ("ONE") fits into this category.
So if you are the sort who doesn't let the words of great albums drift past you, and you want to be stimulated to hear things you might otherwise miss, then this is a fascinating little book. Sometimes Catanzarite's flights of fancy (imagining the conversations and relationships behind the individual characters in the songs) get a bit intrusive which is why i've docked a star. Still - this should enhance your listening - which is the whole point of this series.
It is my own fault for not reading the first few pages when I bought this book; had I done so, I would not have been surprised by the bizarre angle Catanzarite puts on this album. Quite simply, he goes about bending every aspect of U2, their (seldom publicly discussed) Christian faith and every lyric he can find until it all points towards one great metaphor of The Fall. Far be it for me to point out that this album has more to do with the fall of the Berlin Wall than the fall of man...
If you're up for a didactic, close-minded text laced with messages about how bad humanity is post-fall, be my guest. If you're looking for a reasoned, wide-ranging discussion of Achtung Baby, do yourself a favour and look elsewhere.
This is by far the most pretentious book I've ever read. A crash course in filosophy, theology, psychology, sociology, quotology, name-droppingology, "why use a simple word if there is one no-one understands"ology. And all that to prove "Achtung Baby" gives the answers to all major questions in life including the Beginning of Life in the Garden of Eden. Lowpoint is the "proof" that the album at one point was meant to be titled "Adam" and Bono's wive gave birth to a baby girl named "Eve".
This book has nothing to do with U2 and very little to do with Achtung Baby. Rarely do I find that I've bought something that disappoints as much as this book has. I would even suggest that its product description is bordering on refundably inaccurate! If you want to read a short book about the bible, then go ahead and buy this. Catanzarite doesn't realise that no one actually thinks the bible is true any more - we all know it was made up by men, for the purpose of control. Yes, Bono uses biblical imagery on Achtung Baby, and it's beautiful to behold, like the inside of a Cathedral, but it's still the work of man. The author doesn't even get it right on The Fly, totally missing Bono's phone call from the Devil. None of the stunning lyrical or musical depth of Achtung Baby is explored in this book. Missing is the massive change from what U2 had made before, missing is the intense industrial delivery, the incorporation of rhythm loops, the forays into funked-up indie-dance territory and the evocative words and melodies that make it an all time top five album. Where is Berlin? Where is the Middle East in this book? Where is Ireland for that matter? Where is the guitar-story, a man a divorce and a soundscape that could fill a book on its own? Surely, if this record is about anything then it's there in the mission statement that is Zoo Station - `I'm ready to let go of the steering wheel'. Achtung Baby the album is a headlong dive away from U2's past and into a glorious, hedonistic future of irony, lust, intoxication and love. But this book is a waste of paper. - Steve Wilson, Gods Of Chaos