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Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  834 Ratings  ·  108 Reviews
The living embodiment of The Beatles, a musical juggernaut without parallel, Paul McCartney is undoubtedly the senior figure in pop music today. In this authoritative biography, journalist and acclaimed author Howard Sounes leaves no stone unturned in building the most accurate and extensive profile yet of music's greatest living legend.
Paperback, 528 pages
Published September 2nd 2010 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published January 1st 2010)
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May 04, 2011 Ann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 11, 2011 Tim Byron rated it liked it
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
Sep 30, 2011 Gilly McGillicuddy rated it it was ok
Shelves: beatles
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
Jan 26, 2012 Alex Robinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, bio
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.
Jun 09, 2013 Nicki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 06, 2014 Kathryn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Matt Isenhower
Feb 07, 2014 Matt Isenhower rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Carla JFCL
Nov 01, 2011 Carla JFCL rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 28, 2012 Gary Schantz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 02, 2012 LaurieH118 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 24, 2011 Marisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 09, 2011 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Minus one star for taking shots at RAM
Dec 07, 2012 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 on
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
Feb 14, 2012 Joe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Book Review – An Intimate life of Paul McCartney by Howard Sounes

Harper Collins

For the best part of the past fifty years Paul McCartney has been one of the world’s best known musicians. From the chart friendly pop of early Beatles music, to the more experimental nature of their later work, he has led and informed many musical trends. The music that he wrote with John Lennon is timeless, and continues to work its magic on successive generations, and a lot is already know about his life.

The musica
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
Aug 11, 2014 Nick Duretta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I enjoyed reading this. It was the first McCartney bio I had read. So many songs. Sometimes the comments seemed more like a personal comment rather than an analysis. Lead to a fair bit of time streaming amazing Beatles songs from Youtube!
Aug 21, 2011 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 26, 2015 Sasha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Affectionate and immaculately researched biography of one of the most popular people on the planet.
McCartney comes across as charming, natural, witty and funny, only slightly straining under pressures of the fame (when he snaps at fans, it becomes front news) and by far the most likable of all his ex-colleagues. Most of the people, when faced with immense wealth and crazed adulation, found it very difficult but McCartney was apparently balanced enough to focus on his family, countryside life, o
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.
Dan Dinello
Jan 05, 2015 Dan Dinello rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're a Beatle fan and have read several books, you will still find interesting little bits of good information; for example, the "Jo Jo" in "Get Back" refers to Linda's first husband, urging him to leave them alone and stay in Arizona. However, the best part of the book - for those very familiar with the Beatles - is Paul's solo career and life up to 2009 or so. Surprisingly, the author doesn't think much of Paul's solo music, criticizing most of his albums as being mostly a few good songs ...more
Dec 28, 2010 pianogal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, music, nyjob
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!
Bella Juncker
This is my first time reading a biography, so I cannot compare this book to anything else. But when I'm reading this book, it feels like the author want me to get a negative point of view on Paul McCartney. The author hardly writes anything positive about the kind of person McCartney was, and how The Beatles relationship with each other was. It's like the author want me to think that The Beatles (and especially Paul McCartney), were a bounce of heartless, selfless jerks, that were able to make a ...more
Day Rusk
Jun 27, 2015 Day Rusk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve pretty much been a lifelong Beatles fan; a fan that has also grown to appreciate the music John, Paul, George and Ringo (yes, Ringo) made as solo artists. I’ve read a lot of books on the Beatles, and have several lined up to read in the future. It’s a compulsion, as, despite the fact the story never changes, and I know it so well, I still continue to read the books. Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney, at least allowed me to not only read about his Beatle years, but also his solo career ...more
Aug 19, 2013 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well written, keeps the reader wanting to know more. Such a fascinating time in history.
Arthur Banos
very detailed
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I have written biographies of a wide range of extraordinary personalities - including the murderers Fred and Rosemary West (Fred & Rose), the American poet Charles Bukowski (Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life) and the singer-songwriters Bob Dylan (Down the Highway) and Lou Reed (Notes from the Velvet Underground). Each book is based on extensive original research.

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