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4.9 out of 5 stars
143
4.9 out of 5 stars


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on 10 March 2017
The positive reviews about this book were very very encouraging, but I must admit I expected a - mostly - picture book, with a big part of it dedicated to David's costumes etc. I was quite wrong. It's so much more than that! Not to mention that it's huge and, well, gorgeous! The access to the official David Bowie Archive means that there's a lot of material that most of us haven't seen before. Every photo etc is so well reproduced and organised in a quite inventive way. There are quite a few essays too, all very interesting and of the same high quality as the rest of the book. I would recommend this book even to the casual Bowie fan without hesitation.
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on 8 May 2017
Was lucky enough to go to see the exhibit at the V&A Museum and loved every extraordinary sound and vision second of it....this book was a birthday gift from my other half as I didn't have the money to buy it on the day....very happy to own it and keep as a memento ..especially after Bowie's sad passing.
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I am a big Bowie fan and have a ton of books about him. Created as a companion to the exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, this is one of the best. Several reasons:

1. The exhibition was given full access to the official David Bowie Archive which means there is plenty of material you have not seen before, such as handwritten lyrics with corrections (that line in "Heroes", "and we kissed as though nothing could fall", was drafted as "and we kissed and you felt called"), minor details maybe but it is fascinating to get a glimpse at how these songs evolved. There is also a big focus on costumes, photographed in superb quality, many of which are stunning, as well as photographs, posters, artwork done for album covers complete with some early mock-ups and that I have not seen before, and other memorabilia.

One costume example is Natasha Korniloff's "cobweb bodysuit" designed for the 1980 Floor Show, which has a pair of hands clutching Bowie's chest stitched into it. First we see Mick Rock's photo of Bowie wearing this on stage, then pictures of the costume itself. Fantastic.

2. This is not just a picture book. There is a lot of text, and it's good stuff. The authors are various, but the editors are Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh from the V&A, who take a scholarly approach though they still convey enthusiasm for their subject (and overall this is a book for fans, there is not much here that is negative). There is a lot of factual information though, both biographical and cultural. The cultural bit is important. As you would expect from people working for a museum, the editors are interested in how Bowie was influenced by the culture of his times, and in turn how he influenced it.

The book is organized into nine main chapters. These are as follows:

- Astronauts of Inner Spaces: by Geoffrey Marsh, mainly covers early career in London

- Theatre of Gender: by Camille Paglia, covers Bowie and sexual revolution

- Oh you pretty things: by Jon Savage, about Bowie and youth culture

- Putting out fire with Gasoline: by Victoria Broackes, covers bowie and design, costumes, album covers and more

- Bowie Music: by Howard Goodall, about the music, pictures of lyrics and sheet music

- For 'We are the Goon Squad': by Christopher Breward, about the album covers

- Changes: by Oriole Cullen, an essay on Bowie and fashion

- David Bowie then ... David Bowie now: a roundtable discussion with Christopher Frayling, Philip Hoare and Mark Kermode. Wide-ranging, enjoyable.

- David Bowie is Photographic: by Nicholas Coleridge, short piece on 16 favourite photographs, reproduced in small size on a single page. Most if not all of these pictures are properly reproduced elsewhere, but there are no page references which is a shame.

3. The production is superb. Stitched binding, fabric-covered spine, interesting textured feel to the cover, and excellent reproduction of the pictures. Some of the early pictures are not so good, but this is because of the quality of the originals (or the best copy that was available to the publishers).

Having said all that, some Bowie fans may find the text over-scholarly; I can imagine some finding it pretentious though personally I would disagree. Not a problem though, ignore the text if you don't like it and just enjoy the images.

Anything to criticise? Well, bear in mind that the book was done along with the exhibition, and reflects the content that is there. It is not in any sense a comprehensive Bowie book. The text does tend to focus on the early years which is fair enough since this is when Bowie was culturally most influential, but you could say that it is unbalanced.

As you will note from the above guide to the chapters, the book is not chronological but rather, loosely thematic. A bit confusing, and it means that if you want, for example, all the material relating to the Thin White Duke era, you have to look here there and everywhere.

None of this troubles me in the least. The book exceeded my expectations and is essential for fans (and easier to get than a ticket for the exhibition). Sometimes these exhibition-related books do not stay in print for all that long, so I recommend grabbing it quick.
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on 10 April 2017
Present for myself ....very good read...excellent photography
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on 12 January 2017
Great for Bowie fans.
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on 23 April 2017
bowiewonderworld.........classy book.
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on 14 April 2017
Impressive book. Great quality and huge.
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on 4 March 2017
I bought this for my friend for her birthday. She is a die hard Bowie fan and loved the book! It has lots of great pics.
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on 21 October 2016
Superb book!
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on 22 March 2013
If you are intending to go to see the exhibition at the V & A or not, then you need this book. It in a nutshell, it contains photos, many close up, of all the main exhibits at the museum. From all the early 'Ziggy' costumes through to the one's he wore for the Reality tour via a breathtaking section based around the Diamond Dogs tour. As no photographs are allowed to be taken at the V & A, this is the closest you will get to seeing these items again. Apart from original lyrics shown full page, and costumes mentioned above, you also get plenty of original period photos, and documents relating to stage productions, etc. My favourite photo is of the original; model of the Diamond Dogs set. As that tour didn't come to the UK, most of us have rarely even seen photos of the set, let alone a working model ! The hardback edition of the book has a lovely velvet feel to both the front and back cover. The book overall is huge, and like the man himself, beautiful.
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