Christina's Reviews > Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music - The Definitive Life

Lennon by Tim Riley
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Jan 22, 13

bookshelves: biography-memoir
Read from October 30, 2012 to January 22, 2013

Riley's biography of John Lennon is very detailed and comprehensive. I've read several other books on Lennon and the Beatles, yet I learned a great deal from Riley's meticulous work. He presents a clear and honest portrait of Lennon's strengths and weaknesses, but he never stoops to the "gossipy" tone found in so many other books about rock stars. The book mixes biography and music criticism, which is natural given Riley's background as a musician and scholar. I can see how some readers might find the book a little too heavy on music criticism and theory. Personally, I enjoyed that because I found Riley's comments interesting and thought-provoking. I didn't always agree with him, but I still enjoyed reading his views. I was particularly struck by how often Riley exposes myths about Lennon and the Beatles and how he relates them to the events of their day. Riley's portrait of Lennon is comprehensive and honest. Published in 2011, I think this book benefits from the passage of time. So many of the earlier books about the Beatles are caught up in the break-up and the bad energy surrounding it. Riley discusses all of that clearly and concisely, but he takes a longer view. As a result, I think the reader sees a much clearer portrait of Lennon in the context of his time.
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