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Paul McCartney: A Life

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,304 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
From the acclaimed biographer who brought you the rock biography of Bruce Springsteen comes the life of musician Paul McCartney—from his groundbreaking years with the Beatles to Wings to his work as a solo artist and activist.

More than a rock star, more than a celebrity, Paul McCartney is a cultural touchstone who helped transform popular music as one half of the legendary
ebook, 384 pages
Published November 3rd 2009 by Touchstone (first published October 1st 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,137)
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Jason Koivu
Get Back To Where I've Never Gone.
I've read about the Beatles and I've read about Lennon, but I'd never read about McCartney, and I supposed it was about time. You see, because of bios and whatnot that I've read about Lennon, my boyhood idolization of him lost its shine. As a consequence, Paul's star rose subconsciously in my mind, and I knew that wasn't fair. It was time to level the playing field and Peter Ames Carlin's book steamrolled it.

I Should've Let It Be.
Paul McCartney has the reputat
Carol Storm
Jan 30, 2014 Carol Storm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really hated Paul McCartney as a kid. I thought he was the lame Beatle, the wimpy Beatle, the one hiding behind a smile and a smirk while John Lennon changed the world with his bold ideas and George Harrison defied the wealthy in favor of spiritual quests and Ringo Starr just took in and healed all of the loneliness and pain of teenage life on earth with his big, sad eyes.

Having grown up a lot in the past thirty five years, I was really impressed by this book and all it reveals about Paul's re
Aaron Badgley
Jan 01, 2013 Aaron Badgley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who hate Paul McCartney
Recommended to Aaron by: Thankfully no one
I have read close to 400 books on the Beatles, solo and together, and this is one of the worse. It is a complete rewrite of other books, very little original, and quite frankly, the author is not a fan. Also, he spends very little time on his solo career, Red Rose Speedway is given all of half a page, Chaos and Creation even less! I urge fans to not read this book but search Many Years from Now.
A big disappointment and complete waste of time. Also, the grammer is about a grade one level.
Nicola Mansfield
Jan 01, 2010 Nicola Mansfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reason for Reading: I like the Beatles but I love Paul.

Comments: Normally, I steer away from biographies, trying to read memoirs instead unless the person in question is dead and never wrote their own auto-biography. Well, Paul is neither, but given his extremely private nature I find it doubtful he'll ever write a memoir and if he did it would not be in-depth but more like musings of good memories. So I jumped on this book when it came out.

Again, I find when reading these types of biographies o
Suzanne Moore
My first musical purchase, while in junior high, was a 45 of “Got to Get You Into My Life” and “Helter Skelter” on the flip side. As I graduated to high school, Paul McCartney and Wings were reaching their peak. I remember listening to a favorite 8-track in my car of the James Bond soundtrack for “Live and Let Die.” Of course I grew up hearing the Beatles music as a group … their music is timeless. But Lennon's solo work soon became my favorite of the ex-Beatles. John's death is still shocking. ...more
Donal Keady
We'll never really know, will we? But just try to tell some people that. Beatle books are a plentiful species, and they should all be read to get an overall picture. I'm not sure if this book needed to be written, but it should be read all the same. It's entertaining enough in its own way. The writing style sometimes gets on my nerves, and Carlin does have great affection for his subject.
People get so polarised when it comes to the Beatles. They have rigid ideas about who they were, what they sa
Feb 20, 2014 Elaine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Saw him live last night at AT&T Park with 40,000 other fans. Oh, what a night --
Two years later, I finally realized I was never going to finish this book. I much prefer listening to the Beatles to reading about them Even Paul.
This is a comprehensive biography of the man, from birth up to his third marriage, warts and all. McCartney is a great performer, song-writer and composer, and his work with John Lennon produced some of the greatest songs of the 20th century. Paul fell into depression when the Beatles finally broke apart, but got Wings started and experienced great popularity and success again, this time as an adult and without the screaming mania, and with Linda by his side giving him stability and support. Aft ...more
It feels more like a really long Wikipedia entry than a proper bio, but it's fun to imagine Paul McCartney slapping tables and yelling at people.

It's usually presented as a series of events of which Paul McCartney was one participant -- I don't think it has a very strong POV. About 2/3rds of the book is about his time as a Beatle, which is fair I suppose, but it also feels like the author would have much rather written a book about John Lennon. Which is funny, since one of the recurring ideas of
Richard Barnes
Nov 01, 2015 Richard Barnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid biography of McCartney - giving as much time to his post-Beatles career as his time with the fab four.

The author is neither an awestruck fan nor a rabid hater with an agenda - Carlin manages objectivity without being dry.

McCartney comes across as driven and demanding - egotistical and supremely talented. His poor treatment of his Wings bandmates is not glossed over, but the book also avoids the cliché of casting McCartney as the less talented foil to Lennon.

There's little here that hasn'
Nov 04, 2014 Martin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
On the one hand this book tells you everything you need to know about Paul, but on the other it manages to say so very little, and it's not because the subject is boring. It's just the way this book is written. It's hard to explain. The part where people he cares about start dying around him was really gut-wrenching.
May 25, 2015 Connie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is like being a fly on the wall watching music history be born, growing, changing, evolving. The relationship between the Beatles is like a family- you love each other, you hate each other, you fight, you love. In the end though you are always family and through strive and tragedy the magic will always be there no matter what.
Jul 14, 2014 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I really enjoyed this book. It wasn't just about Paul but all of the Beatles from their start till their end. Paul is a genius but he really should have taken longer to know that Heather bitch before marrying her and he deff should have gotten a prenup. I think he was just still sad from Linda's death and needed the distraction. I was sad to learn what an asshole Lennon was and how he took credit for so many songs that Paul wrote on his own. Especially, Yesterday. For two years he made fun of it ...more
Allan Heron
Jul 22, 2016 Allan Heron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really a 3.5 star review but I'm not allowed such finesse. This is a sympathetic look at the life of McCartney from an author sympathetic to his talents and accepting of his foibles.

The book does not majorly cover the detail of the music but uses each release to elaborate his commentary on McCartney the man. Although much of the book inevitably focuses on the Beatles it's implicit in the text that the reader is already familiar with the band's story.

More detail on the solo years might have been
Tom Stamper
Oct 19, 2015 Tom Stamper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The refreshing thing about the book is that Carlin doesn't have to build up Paul by tearing down John and vice versa. Music journalists have spent too long trying to campaign for one and marginalize the other when we all know the band would have been much less important without the both of them.

If there is a central theme to Paul's life its how his working class work upbringing and his love of music has driven him his whole adult life. Sometimes those drives hurt people close to him. But as a m
Here's the summary (aka, I read this so you don't have to): Oh, that darn Paul! Sure, he acts like a jerk, but how can you stay mad at him? John, on the other hand, is a sociopath who abuses everyone he comes into contact with. And there were a couple other guys in the band, too.
This biography is hard to assess, because McCartney was such a polarizing person in popular culture. It seemed at times very critical, and possibly rightly so, but there was an edge to it I didn't like, and a feeling that some stuff was being over looked somehow. McCartney certainly deserved more credit for his contributions, but Lennon comes off as being quite unpleasant and mean; Ringo and Harrison are not well represented. McC's treatment of bandmates was often quite poor; I think he often go ...more
Emily Egan
Mar 25, 2016 Emily Egan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lots of details I never knew. It was so interesting and I really enjoyed it.
Paul Lyons
Insightful exploration into the life of the great Beatle Paul McCartney. Author Peter Ames Carlin took great pains to chronicle every aspect of Paul McCartney's existence from birth in 1942 up to and including his life and work in the first decade of the 21st Century. Though as full and "complete" as the book is, in terms of showcasing the life of one individual, there seemed to be something holding the book back, preventing it from ever really achieving full-on wonder, and excitement. That said ...more
Grace Crawford
I read the novel, Paul McCartney by Peter Ames Carlin. Paul McCartney by Peter Ames Carlin is a biography about the famous performer, Paul McCartney which the book is titled after. With the novel being a biography, the author's purpose in writing the novel was to inform the audience about McCartney's life. The author using statements, or facts that is later on learn that the event will influenced or effected McCartney life and future decisions. The author's purpose of writing this novel was easi ...more
This book invites the reader into the extraordinary life and career of one of Britain's most famous rock icons, Sir Paul McCartney, beginning with his childhood in Liverpool and including his musical union with Lennon at age fifteen. I was amazed to learn how much of the Beatles was influenced by McCartney, from the group members and the image, to the endless list of his own compositions (or Lennon-McCartney originals that were, according to Carlin, predominately the works of the latter), since ...more
Jun 05, 2011 Jo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
I've never read any other McCartney or Beatles-related biography or memoir, so I can't really speak to the accuracy of this one. But still, for me, this book would fall between so-so and ok. I didn't dislike it, but something seems missing or like its just skimming the surface. [Maybe it's because I'd just listened to Keith Richard's book, which is great; this one doesn't have that depth & I wonder if the author ever actually interviewed Paul for it -- no endnotes/bibliography in the audiobo ...more
Armin Hennig
Leider nur eine halbe Sache, von daher gibt es auch nicht mehr Sterne als für Goldmans Lennon-Pamphlet, obwohl sich Peter Ames Carlin deutlich mehr Mühe gibt, seinem Gegenstand gerecht zu werden. Und hätte er sich für die 40 Jahre nach den Beatles dieselbe Mühe gemacht wie mit dem bezeichnenden Kindheitstrauma und Jahren mit John, George und Ringo, dann wären ihm bei mir zumindest vier Sterne vergönnt gewesen, vermutlich sogar zeitweilige fünf, aber im Vergleich zu Doggetts „You never give me yo ...more
Brian Young
Dec 05, 2012 Brian Young rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Beatles Fans, Paul Fans, Music Fans.
Shelves: music
I am a huge beatles fan so this book instantly interested me. I had to choose a book for a book report in my english class and it had to be non-fiction, and after searching forever I found this. From the first page, to the last page, i was simply in love. I thought i knew alot about paul before, but never this much. From the begining where he lost his mother to recent times, I can now honostly say that I know paul. The way Peter Ames Carlin writes the book it is so inviting and just screams read ...more
Colleen Martin
The one thing that really struck me as I read this book is that, as much as Sir Paul would like to think otherwise, his genius as a musician and songwriter is very much a result of his collaboration with John Lennon. The music that he and John produced during their too-brief tenure as Beatles was revolutionary, transcendent of their era, and quite literally altered the course of history. After the Beatles called it quits, Paul charged ahead, attempting to recreate that magic on his own and not q ...more
Scott Holstad
Mar 24, 2013 Scott Holstad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting book to read. The Beatles were a little before my time, and I grew up listening to Paul's Wings, but I've always been interested in the Beatles and Paul McCartney, so I enjoyed this book. While the author is clearly a fan, he doesn't hold back his critiques either, which balances the book out.

I learned a lot I didn't know. For instance, I didn't know that Paul was the musical genius in the group and taught Lennon how to play the guitar. I also didn't know he was so contro
Dec 24, 2010 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author pulls no punches in his biography of 1/4 of the greatest rock and roll band ever. He also does a decent job of revealing the cost of devoting oneself to fame and fortune--the cost in the losing of ones very soul as well as the lost friends and loved ones.

Mr. Carlin had also steeped himself deep and long into the music itself of the Beatles and Paul's work with Wings and solo stuff. It was a treat to catch phrases of song lyrics in the story.

Unfortunately it seemed like the author or
Dec 21, 2009 Judith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like the rest of the world, I loved the Beatles, and after the Beatles, Paul McCartney. But I never felt drawn to read any books about McCartney, till I read a review of this one in the NYT. I don't know how this book compares with other biographies of McCartney, but I enjoyed it tremendously. I learned so much about the group and the individuals in the group from the stories in this book and it changed previous impressions I had in so many ways.

For example, I hadn't really realized what an inc
Steve Curll
Keep the kids from this book. It is full of expletives, both from Paul and friends,and the author. It is difficult to sort the author's speculation about songs and situations as the documentation is not noted in the text. Many of his statements are completely undocumented and presented as fact. For example, he claims that Paul wrote the last line of Norwegian Wood to state that the narrator was scorned and gleefully looked back at the blazing apartment after he torched it. Looking for documentat ...more
Sep 07, 2011 Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story I love re-reading no matter how many times I read it. This time with lots of details about how much of a dick McCartney could be. But now I have a much clearer picture of what exactly he did after the Beatles, an informed interest in exploring his solo work, and a sense of how much Linda meant to him. The scene where she dies is heartbreaking. Carlin writes with a precise insight that strives to explain the reasoning behind, if not always justification for, things Paul did, such as treat ...more
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