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Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  610 ratings  ·  90 reviews
He is one of the most famous, most wealthy people on the planet, and yet he remains little-known and understood as a personality. At long last, Paul McCartney is the subject of a major, deeply researched, psychologically acute biography. It tells a story that will illuminate and surprise.

The publication finds McCartney - who turns 70 in 2012 - revitalized as a performer (t
Paperback, 608 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by Anchor Canada (first published January 1st 2010)
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I am an admirer of Sounes' books on Bukowski.

'Fab' however, is riddled with Sounses' own irritating and unsubstansiated views. He is also clearly not a musical person. His descriptions of Mccartney's music ; 'Fiery licks', 'a hot track' etc are pathetic and risible.

More annoying though are his dismissals of anything he clearly doesn't understand. (an objectivity is surely a given for any biographer unless he has an argument to back up his dismissal).

Sounes doesn't seem to be able to understand t
Tim Byron
I've read too many books on the Beatles to fully appreciate "Fab", I think. The first half of the book - which covers Paul until the Beatles' breakup - seemed like familiar territory, and there were few anecdotes or interesting insights that I hadn't heard before - if that part of Paul's life is what you're interested in, you're better off reading the Hunter Davies or Bob Spitz books. The second half of the book was the more interesting half, as I wasn't as familiar with the story, and there wer ...more
Gilly McGillicuddy
I kept having the urge to get out a big red marker pen and scribble all over this as I was reading it. "FALSE", "CONJECTURE", "PERSONAL OPINION" and "DEAR GOD, ARE PEOPLE STILL BELIEVING THESE OLD PHILIP NORMAN MYTHS" would be the most frequent. It's always a bad sign when you start mentally correcting a biographer. I love Macca, I don't love this book. It's just a hatchet job.
Alex Robinson
I enjoyed this book but I have two quibbles:

--Despite being called an "intimate" biography I never really felt like the author got into McCartney's skin.

--the section on the Heather Mills debacle is far too long,going into far too much detail for what is (while admittedly sordid and weird) ultimately a kind of trivial matter.

That being said, I thought it was an interesting book that actually had some great insights.
Matt Isenhower
Beatles books have come in phases. First was the "authorized" biography, The Beatles, by Hunter Davies, published all the way back in 1968, before the group had even split. There was a relative lack of written work on the band in the 1970's. Apparently, many people were hoping that their story as a band wasn't over, and a reunion would occur. The scant handful of 70's books seemed to take a sociological approach, focusing on their impact on popular culture. After John Lennon's murder in 1980 end ...more
In spite of the fact that this book is so large I thought I’d never finish it, I enjoyed it immensely. Even though I am a “child of the Sixties” and have always enjoyed the music of that decade - including the Beatles’ - I never thought or cared much one way or another about the details of the Beatles’ lives (or about “post-Beatle” Paul McCartney.) In spite of that, I was aware on some level of what was going on in music and in the world during that decade and since then, so I had heard bits and ...more
Keep in mind, I am a HUGE Paul McCartney fan. Ever since I first saw him on Ed Sullivan on February 1964 I became instantly hooked on the Beatles and fell in love with Paul. Of course, in my adolescent fickleness, I switched to John for a few years, I was attracted to his rebellious edge and anger/hurt because they mirrored some on my own issues but then my fantasies returned to Paul. I just finished Sounes' biography last night. I felt so sad when it ended that needed to look up a few old you-t ...more
It's getting harder and harder to write a Beatles book that breaks away from the pack, but Sounes gives it a good effort -- especially since he's trying to compress McCartney's long and winding career into less than 500 pages (no mean feat, considering it took Philip Norman nearly twice that amount to cover Lennon).

For hardcore Beatles fans, I'm not sure there's much on McCartney himself that's new or surprising here -- but Sounes does provide plenty of new or improved information on some of th
Gary Schantz
For starters, I have read probably 100 books about the Beatles since I was a kid so my only reason for picking this book up was because of Paul's 70th birthday. This felt like as good a time as any to catch up on his life. But I only ready the 2nd half of the book in its entirety then skimmed the 1st half which is all about the beginning of the Beatles (and who hasn't heard that story yet?!).

Anyhow, it was an interesting read as it covered items from Beatles quasi-reunion through Linda McCartney
Macca is now very nearly 70, and yet most of the examinations of his very full life only focus on the years between 1962 and 1970. While naturally the Beatle years are covered here, I enjoy that FAB gives us a more complete portrait of the man.

I was particularly intrigued by his life with Linda. Two people had definitely sown their wild oats, they finally found security and stability with one another and had a decades-long, monogamous and evolving union, "living in a home in the heart of the cou
A more detailed review will follow on my book blog, but here I'll say that this is the first Beatle biography I've read that wasn't about John. I suppose I've resisted all this time to read a Paul bio because he's still kicking and apparently making news...therefore his story is far from over. Reading Fab, you get the impression that the author is only a marginal admirer of McCartney. While it may be mainly factual (it's certainly long) it doesn't read as an objective piece. A song is mentioned, ...more
I quite enjoyed this "fab" book about the cute (and super-talented) Beatle, Paul McCartney. We learn about two very different sides of Paul from child to adult - the kind, loving friend and family member and the autocratic, calculating, inflexible man (especially when it comes to his music and business). Although a lot of the Beatles history has been reviewed in previous books, Fab also explores his "Wings" period, and I particularly liked the description of his time with his family in the isola ...more
Minus one star for taking shots at RAM
I always knew McCartney had a over-blown ego and this book really helps verify that fact.

Though, there is more of McCartney's early childhood history and his relatives are mentioned here than in any other book about him that I've read.

Sadly this really didn't do it for me. Spelling mistakes as in Montreal was Montral (pg. 109). The Editor was really asleep at the wheel, and in this age of spelling checkers there isn't any excuse for this.

There are better McCartney historical books out there and
A few handfuls of previously unknown tidbits, just enough to keep a Fab-Four-Fan enticed; but this self-proclaimed "objective historian" can't seem to keep his jaded views in check. He seems intent on ripping Sir Paul, and delights in exposing details that only the tawdry-minded could find truly fascinating. (I swear I could envision him salivating as he feverishly scribbled his groundbreaking "revelations.") Should the yellow press Fox Network ever want to hire a celebrity stalker, this hack co ...more
David Betts
A substantial book, but not much in there I hadn't read somewhere else before. Also, the author irritates by imposing his personal opinion on the reader. It's one thing to quote someone criticising the subjects work; another when the writer does it himself. Is he a biographer or a music critic? There are much better accounts of the Beatles era, but this might serve as introduction to McCartney post-Beatles for the very young, or someone who has been living in a box for 40 years.
Nick Duretta
I love the Beatles (not alone there) and have always been fascinated by all four. I've known quite a bit about Paul, but this account managed to show me a bit more, particularly about his more recent years. Let's face it. Anybody thrust into that kind of fame and fortune at a young age is going to have trouble dealing with it, and Paul is certainly no exception. He's brilliant, a songwriting genius, but he can also be arrogant, controlling and difficult. It's to his credit, certainly, that, desp ...more
Loved this biography of Paul McCartney and even though I had heard many of the stories, there was lots of new details, and yes, gossip. My only warning is don't even think about reading the hardback if your vision isn't sharp. I had a terrible time and wonder why the publisher chose to print this big book in such a faint and hard to read font. If you want to read this and have an e-reader, think about getting it in e-book format.
Ehh...I'm partial to Peter Amos Carlin's bio -- this one gives a meticulous and overwhelming account of Paul MCartney's ancestors, but only a brief introduction to his union with John Lennon. I was amazed how overly persnickety this biographer is about trivial details, yet overgeneralizes significant events in McCartney's life, like meeting Lennon or Linda's death.
Good good good read! The last 50 pages or so kinda drug, but that was mostly b/c I didn't want to read about Heather Mills anyway. When I first found out about her, I tried to like her, but now I understand that all that effort was in vane. She's just not a very likable person.

I feel better. :)
Shawn Roberts
I suppose if "Intimate" means "cut and paste timeline with cutesy writing interspersed interviews with various hangers-on that the subject no longer speaks to," why Yes! this is quite Intimate!
Well written, keeps the reader wanting to know more. Such a fascinating time in history.
Gary M.
I would have given five stars were it not that the first section of the books concentrates on Paul's Beatle days, which is what you'd expect I suppose but this part of the story is so well known that the book didn't really start to get interesting for me until the Beatle days were over. I didn't agree with the author's opinions on the solo albums but this was a compelling read, and painted Paul warts and all, but overall the author showed a healthy though not fawning respect for the genius that ...more
David Melbie
Jul 03, 2011 David Melbie rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to David by: library pick
boring. . .
Annemieke Windt
Biographies are always tricky to read and make up your mind about. The person has to be interesting and the author has to be able to distinguish between the detail and the general outline of the story. Howard Sounes tries to do both with his biography of Paul McCartney Fab, An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney. And he only succeeds in parts.

Sounes manages to interview a number of people who shed a different story of the famous story of The Beatles and Paul McCartney. And he writes with confidence
After years of refusal Reader met Author amongst the lazy sunbathers with the half-hearted introduction You were good in your time.

Author, typically hated for loving, mussed aloud I'll never be anybody's hero now.

After a pause, pregnant, roughly four seconds in duration, Author intoned There speaks a true friend and then probably murmured There's a place in hell for me and my friends.

After a joyous dinner interspersed with drinking, Author spoke to true friend Reader of Alma, Author's only t
Kathryn Bashaar
I almost married Paul McCartney. The only thing that came between us is that we never actually met. But seriously when I was a little girl in the 60s I LOOOOOOVED Paul McCartney. He was the best Beatle. George? Too much in the way of eyebrows & teeth. Ringo? Kinda sad & pitiful, like a puppy you'd rescue from the pound. John? Smart-ass. The kind of mean boy who'd nickname you Spaz for the next 5 years because you tripped over your feet one time in gym class. But Paul...ohhhh, he'd wake u ...more
My views on this book are probably best summed up by fellow GR Tim Byron. I suspect that the only reason the Heather Mills section was so extensive (if a bit People magazin-y in its reportage), is that here Sounes had access to voluminous court records.

Speaking around, if not directly to this readable doorstop, I think the challenge in penning a bio on any contemporary figure as covered as Sir Paul is to provide more depth, insight, or narrative oomph than you could reasonably expect from your a
While it's an unauthorized biography, and therefore, not always a flattering look at Sir Paul, I found this work to be quite comprehensive and very interesting. If you're a fan of Paul and are open to discovering a more well rounded account of his life, I would recommend this book.

Paul was always my favorite Beatle and having been born a few months following their arrival in the U.S. and with siblings who were teenagers, I quite literally grew up with the band. So for me, it was intriguing to be
Blog on Books
As usual, there are a rash of new music books on the market for your favorite music fan for the holidays.

It wouldn't be the holidays without some kind of Beatles' ephemera coming to market (the well-timed iTunes deal aside) and Howard Sounes excellently researched "Fab: the Intimate Life of Paul McCartney" (DaCapo) fills the bill. By interviewing some 200 subjects (family members, musicians ranging from Pete Townshend to every member of Wings, etc.) as well as compiling everything from recording
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I am the author of non-fiction books about a range of extraordinary people: the murderers Fred and Rosemary West (Fred & Rose), the writer Charles Bukowski (Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life) and the singer-songwriters Bob Dylan (Down the Highway) and Paul McCartney (Fab).

More about Howard Sounes...
Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life Fred & Rose 27 Bukowski in Pictures

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