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Not Fade Away: A Short Life Well Lived

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  639 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
Some people are born to lead and destined to teach by the example of living life to the fullest, and facing death with uncommon honesty and courage. Peter Barton was that kind of person.

Driven by the ideals that sparked a generation, he became an overachieving Everyman, a risk-taker who showed others what was possible. Then, in the prime of his life—hugely successful, happ
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 14th 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published 2003)
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Jun 29, 2008 Virginia rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who can stomach posthumous memoir of a life cut short
I lived without regrets for like a solid week after reading this book. (Sad to report that I find the motivational effects of inspiring biographies are a little ephemeral).

It's an unspeakably sad story, really, but about a truly inspiring guy.

I ought to read it again and buy myself another week of regret-free living!
Otis Chandler
Mar 20, 2014 Otis Chandler marked it as to-read
Sacca and Nate recommend
Janie Johnson
Jun 28, 2015 Janie Johnson rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-challenge
This a story about living life, pain, love, faith, and ultimately death. Peter Barton was full of life, energy and passion when he discovers he has cancer. This is his account of his life and how he lived it to the fullest.

I liked the way this book was wrote both as a memoir and a biography, and how it was written by 2 different people. I think it captured the importance of not giving up and living life fully every day. I also like how we were allowed to live Peter's life through reading this bo
John Box
Jul 17, 2015 John Box rated it it was amazing
Not Fade Away is part biography, part business book, and part coming-to-terms-with-mortality memoir.

Peter Barton was a highly motivated baby boomer who poured everything he had into life. Everything he did, he did full throttle. From being a ski bum to working on political campaigns, to being a cable television pioneer, and to most importantly being a dedicated husband and father.

This book is a wonderful snapshot of a man well worth emulating both personally and professionally. Business-wise, it
Jun 01, 2015 Tobin rated it really liked it
"Seem reckless, but be prepared. Act crazy but do your homework."

"Fear makes us study ourselves, forces us to admit our soft spots, to see where we are vulnerable."

"That excursion on the water taught me that each moment is a life, that life is renewed every time we're walloped by beauty, every time we're shaken up by gratitude and love."

"But here's an odd thing I've noticed about people: If you put aside what they say and look at how people actually live, you'd have to conclude that they believe
Mar 24, 2011 Stan rated it it was ok
At its best, this book shows a dying man reflecting remarkably calmly on his life and his imminent mortality. But far more of the book simply feels like yet another example of the self-absorption and self-indulgence characteristic of Generation Me. I got tired of hearing how proud he was of how outrageous he was as a youth, or how brilliant and iconoclastic he was as a high-flyer in the worlds of business and politics.
The reason for reading a book like this is to glean unique insights about a pr
Jun 25, 2009 Michelle rated it liked it
See, I feel bad not LOVING this book knowing it was his last life wish to give this advice. I just often times found what he was saying to be very repetitive. All nice, helpful things - just a bit of overkill for me. I think the book need more progression and less of the lines "What I learned was two things" for every chapter.

All in all, it's obvious that he was a wonderful man, who lived his life to the fullest and his knowledge and perspective spread to all those who knew him.

The last three
Howie Zisser
Feb 16, 2017 Howie Zisser rated it really liked it
Great lessons and reflections on what's important in life
Trung Nguyen Dang
Dec 06, 2016 Trung Nguyen Dang rated it really liked it
A book on the life of Peter Barton, and how he lived his last days/years with cancer.
Martin Tobias
Dec 19, 2016 Martin Tobias rated it really liked it
In perhaps a misguided attempt to explore what it means to "live well", a couple months ago I bought a bunch of books on dying. Or more correctly, on living knowing you are dying. While everyone is dying, most people live like it will never happen to them. Rarely do you hear from those who are actively living a life with the full, active knowledge that they are dying. The Stoics say EVERYONE should live every day like this, and wrote in detail about how to do that. Unfortunately modern man tends ...more
Feb 22, 2011 David rated it really liked it
very touching memoir by Peter Barton, who died of cancer at 51. He worked with Laurence Shames to get his story down on paper as he was going through chemotherapy etc. The chapters (fewer than half; it's not a strict alternation pattern) in Shames' voice were somewhat uninteresting -- Peter's energy level was fading, lots of friends visited him, etc. -- but the ones (most) in Barton's voice were terrific. It's partly about his outlook on his impending death, what might come after, etc., but most ...more
Jan 22, 2016 Pat rated it liked it
It seems spiteful to pan a work that was intended to be an honest look at a bold and lovable man dealing with a slow and painful death, decades before anyone should have to deal with it... but here goes nothing:

I think this book was intended to be a deep, soulful look at mortality, focused on the life and passing of a real-life Forrest Gump, but it missed the mark badly. It's chopped up into pieces, partially written by Peter Barton (the protagonist and Gump-esque character), partially by his fr
Saad Youssefi
Jun 01, 2015 Saad Youssefi rated it really liked it
Not Fade Away is beautifully written to show the reflections of a noble successful self-made business and family man as he fought against cancer and saw death approaching.

He graciously discusses how his view of time changes as the past, present and future merge and become one. In a time where everyone asks that we live solely in the present the author puts things in perspective.

The writing is very clear and simple which conveys the message smoothly.

A few deep messages and excerpts that truly re
Jun 29, 2015 Cristobal rated it liked it
I came across this book randomly through an article on books about the meaning of life. In that regard the book is right on. I had never heard before about Peter Barton and his life sounds like a resounding success, the embodiment of the American dream: middle class, widowed mother brought him up through hard work, gains acceptance to an Ivy League school, goes into politics, leaves disenchanted, goes to business school, and then goes on to build a wildly successful business. Incredibly even big ...more
Jun 02, 2015 Kelly rated it it was amazing
I found the protagonist, Peter Barton, extremely relatable which made reading his memoir and experience facing death from cancer especially poignant.

Highlighted quotes:
* The approach of death has made me realize that there are no unimportant details in life. That childhood sense of wonder is somehow coming back to me.
* Commentators on human happiness, from the Buddha to the latest psychobabbling guru, are always harping on the importance of living in the present moment. But, unless you're conte
Dan Chance
Mar 27, 2012 Dan Chance rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Peter Barton was blessed to have lived life by his own lights... or in hind sight was he? Died Sept 2002. Visionary for cable TV, thrill seeker. When he knew he knew he was going to die he hired Lawrence Shames to write his biography. Lawrence spent months sitting at Barton's side with the family just doing family things. What emerged was a thoughtful man and I'm glad I bought this book at Goodwill in 2010.

Barton said of entrepreneurs: "If they are good at what they do and if they have some luck
Feb 25, 2010 Caroline rated it it was amazing
To live an action packed, loving and loved life. That is my goal. And to accept death. I think once a person accepts their own inevitable mortality, it gives them the freedom to take calculated risks and live more honestly. Peter Barton packed a full life into 51 years, and then died of stomach cancer. He played improv piano for Frank Sinatra, parked his car in Mrs. Simon's (and Schuster) driveway. He started his own multi-billion dollar business. This is his story. What he learned, what he want ...more
Lisa Hodgson
Jul 15, 2011 Lisa Hodgson rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure I could give less than 5 stars to a work that allows us inside the private world of a dying human being, a world that most of us will someday experience in our own ways (some of us will die unexpectedly). One thing our culture does not teach us is how to die, and this likely is because Western culture includes a fear of that stage of our travels.

Why shouldn't Peter Barton have been pleased with his life? He lived life more fully than most. However, he presents the pros and the cons
Adel Maymoon
Oct 24, 2015 Adel Maymoon rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is sort of a life story of Peter Barton the cable industry media mogul in the US. Written by himself and a professional story teller Laurence Shames.
Peter died from cancer at age 51 and this tells the story of his life and how he lived it fully. He did maximize the experience of his life and this is what I thought was remarkable about him. His love of life and his family is really worth admiring.
What I did not like about this book, was how death was pictured as an end to the extraord
Fran Toolan
Jul 10, 2013 Fran Toolan rated it it was amazing
Courage. This book is a story of courage.

Peter Barton was not well known to me, but the company he create was. A retired billionaire at 46, he died at 51 of stomach cancer. He left behind a wife and three children.

This book chronicles his death, which may sound morbid, but Peter puts us at ease with it, and invites us to share his unique insights into what is important in life.

Not many of us could do what Peter does in these pages, nor in his extraordinary life. He continually tells us how his
Roslyn Ross
Feb 26, 2016 Roslyn Ross rated it liked it
This book was fine. I liked it. I cried. But it was also repetitive and not exactly intellectually stimulating. Some nuggets of wisdom sure, but, overall it was too peppy. Whitewashed. He keeps saying he felt dark things and had dark times but then he goes right back into how happy he was and what a good time he had in his life. He is not okay with negative emotions--he tells his wife plainly: have a cry about my death once and then never again. Reading his book feels like talking to a friend wi ...more
Oct 17, 2007 Emily rated it liked it
someone at work recommended this to me so many times that i finally just bought it (it was also remaindered, so i got it for about $3). normally i shy away from books like this: memoirs, memoirs about cancer, memoirs by businessmen, etc. but the multiple recommendations got to me. it was good - i think it was perhaps overhyped for me, or i had too high of expecations. but there were definitely a few moments where i was verging on being teary, and peter barton (the man writing the book) did have ...more
Nicholas Moryl
Jul 08, 2015 Nicholas Moryl rated it it was ok
A good reminder to live life to its fullest. Not the most eloquent or elegant book on the subject (I'm not a fan of the writing still--very "Eat Pray Love"), but I think more of the fault for that lies with the author than the subject. The subject, Peter Barton, is well aware of the luck and privilege he has, so to see much of that swept aside in favor of some fairly shallow anecdotes/vignettes about the cool stuff he has done makes it more of a beach read than a serious reflection of life and m ...more
Feb 27, 2013 Susan rated it it was ok
I was drawn to this book in a used bookstore by its cover and title. This book read like a first draft and was repetitive and clunky. I never really got a solid sense of who Peter Barton was and what he wanted to tell us. I kept waiting for his deepest thoughts, the crushing fears about the finality of death and saying goodbye to his children and wife. He said he wasn't sure if there was a heaven -- he only "wished on stars." I wanted to ask him so many questions. I finished the book but the boo ...more
Mar 25, 2009 Scott rated it liked it
This is a deceptive book. A simple, short memoir of a successful man who knows he is about to die from cancer at the age of 51. Much is expected but there are flashes of total, raw honesty that make it a must-read. Life is short, but long enough to read this. Almost worth 4 stars. Reminded me a LOT of my colleague Jim Herzog who died of cancer just a year ago at a very young age. You never know...
Aug 29, 2008 Alison rated it it was ok
I picked this up at Book Expo a couple years back and just got around to reading it. I'm a memoir junkie, and have helped people write memoirs so I'm sort of interested in how two people go about tacking the task together. But the writing just isn't as compelling as the stories this guy has to tell. I wish I could have sat next to him at a dinner party and heard them. The book didn't do them justice.
Kyle Moore
Nov 12, 2015 Kyle Moore rated it really liked it
This book hit me as both sad and uplifting. Peter honestly describes the ups and downs and the discoveries he has while living out the remainder of his life. I felt bad for him because he died when he obviously still had so much to live for. At the same time I was happy that he was able to find a way to enjoy the time he had left. Recommended. Any of my local FB friends want to borrow my copy to read?
Alexander Douglas
Dec 17, 2015 Alexander Douglas rated it really liked it
Lawrence Shames does a great job telling the story of Peter Barton, an adventurer, entrepreneur, and family man facing an irreversible demise. While the tragedy of a premature death is thread throughout the story, there is immense beauty and readers can draw a clear lesson from his energy for life. His magnetic personality comes to life through Shames' words. After reading this book, I promise you will want to live your life more like how Peter lived his.
Aug 11, 2012 Ellen rated it it was amazing
This is a fabulous, moving, poignant, tale of the last months of Peter Barton. Yes, it's about dying but it's more about living until the very end. Barton's discoveries about himself, his world and THE world are many and varied; you'll nod, you'll swallow the lump in your throat or cry, you'll smile, you'll shake your head in wonder. Full of thought provoking insight and conclusions. Highly recommend this story.
Aug 13, 2015 Matt rated it really liked it
Not Fade Away is a memoir by Peter Barton about his life before succumbing to cancer at the age of 51. It is full of subtle and not so subtle reminders of mortality and how fleeting life can be. Readers can take his tale as a depressing reminder of the inevitable, or as a more uplifting message of the need to appreciate and seize each day. I found it to be a little of both, which is why I had conflicting feelings towards the work. I am, however, happy to have read it.
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Laurence Shames has been a New York City taxi driver, lounge singer, furniture mover, lifeguard, dishwasher, gym teacher, and shoe salesman. Having failed to distinguish himself in any of those professions, he turned to writing full-time in 1976 and has not done an honest day’s work since.

His basic laziness notwithstanding, Shames has published twenty books and hundreds of magazine articles and es
More about Laurence Shames...

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