This biography takes a fresh and penetrating look at Lennon's much-chronicled life, including the songs that have turned him, posthumously, into almost a secular saint. In three years of research, Norman has turned up an extraordinary amount of new information about even the best-known episodes of Lennon folklore. The book's numerous key informants and interviewees include Sir Paul McCartney, Sir George Martin, and Yoko Ono, who speaks with sometimes shocking candor about the inner workings of her marriage to John.
Honest and unflinching, as John himself would wish, Norman gives us the whole man in all his endless contradictions: tough and cynical, hilariously funny - but also naive, vulnerable, and insecure. He reveals how the mother who gave him away as a toddler haunted his mind and his music for the rest of his days.
©2008 Philip Norman; (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers
I always go for unabridged if available because I prefer to decide for myself which passages (if any) to skim. But the abridgements I've read in the past have at least provided decent transitions and for the most part not chopped out essential passages. Not so with this butcher job. Suddenly John leaps from one school to another without transition. The formation of his first band is left out, so you are dumped immediately in the middle of his Quarrymen period. At that point, I gave up on the audiobook and bought the real book. I was, and remain, totally puzzled how this abridgement was permitted to be sold to us. It's really, really, awful. Insensitive, thoughtless, bizarre.
I find it unbelievable that a major publishing house would do such a haphazard job on an audiobook. I actually called Audible to see if a part was missing, because the audiobook skips all mention of John meeting Paul McCartney and George Harrison and forming the Quarrymen, among other glaring omissions. It turns out that the narrator is just reading certain unedited chapters from the book, so you get some things in great detail, while other, sometimes more important, things are completely skipped. There is no attempt at continuity; people and events will pop up with no explanation, because they had obviously been introduced in an earlier chapter that we did not get to hear.
The really frustrating part is that if the audiobook were unabridged, or had been abridged properly, I think this would have been a really great listen. The chapter about John's early childhood contained information that I, an avid Beatles reader, had never heard, and I found it riveting. The book is well-written, and the narration is also very good. It's a shame that the publisher did not to justice to its product with its lazy, lazy abridgement.
Why, oh why, does Audible provide unabridged versions of, say, a 3-volume history of the stapler yet insist on abridging books like this? The other commenters have it right: these are excerpts, not a real abridged version.
And the selections are puzzling: this version skips the entire first 3 albums, U.S. tour, etc., but gives in excruciating detail a long, Wikipedia-like history of LSD that is familiar from every 1960s documentary ever made. But John Lennon's life from 1974-1980? Missing.
The writing is good, as is the narration and the information provided. But you'll find yourself going back to see if you missed something because of inattention. You didn't. It isn't there.
Sure. I think the entire book would have been great, or even a well-edited one. But this one makes you think you've zoned out and missed a big chunk or else had a technical malfunction. Graeme Malcolm is a good reader. Money: A Suicide Note was really great.
Oh, God, please don't cut more.
I would like to hear this unabridged, but now I'm just cranky that I blew a credit on this book.
Unfortunately this book is very poorly abridged. At one point it is talking about the band trying to come up with a name and the next thing you know, the "Beatles" are filming 'Help'. and on, and on it goes.
If you are interested in this title, definitely go for the book. The abridged audio is lacking.
I have to concur with some of the other reviewers that the abridgement is awful. Several times I've gone back thinking I must have accidentally skipped forward. It skips from the release of Magical Mystery Tour album all the way to Lennon being on his own married to Yoko. As I recall, a few interesting things happened in between (i.e. White Album, Abby Road, Let It Be, break up of Beatles, divorce from Cindy). Very disappointing and I wish I could get my money back.
I tried to follow the story, but this abridged version is impossible to follow. Suddenly John is in the Quarrymen. Suddenly John and Paul are friends. There are long descriptions of songs and then five years disappear without comment.
Like everyone else, I was very disappointed by the truly awful abridgement of this book. My favorite missing part (and there are so many good ones to choose from) is how the Beatles went from Christmas 1962 to full-blown rock stars in 1965. Uhmm... America and Ed Sullivan, anyone?
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