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The Lives of John Lennon by Albert Goldman
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's review
Jul 09, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: beatles, biography, music, pop-culture, re-reading
Read in January, 1998

If I had to choose my all-time favorite book -- biography or otherwise -- this would probably be it. Certainly, the fact that it's about a Beatle automatically moves it toward the front of the line. But why choose this particular book -- which I've re-read more times than I can count -- when there are so many other Beatle bios out there? Simple: this one's terrible.

No, really. This is a train wreck. Goldman has a major axe to grind, and over the course of 700-plus pages, he grinds his axe to iron powder. Lennon comes across as a mainly lucky, mostly untalented, naive bisexual musician with serious mother issues. It's Character Assassination to the Extreme -- of Lennon, Yoko Ono, and almost everyone but Paul McCartney -- and you'll find yourself marveling at the body count Goldman leaves behind. Every page contains one cynical, sneering appraisal of Lennon and his work after another, with Goldman trashing Lennon's motivations and so often rooting for him to fail that it begs the question of "Why in the world would you devote 700 pages and seven years of your life to a subject you obviously can't stand??"

I don't know the answer, but I'm glad Goldman did it anyway -- because this one is so gawdawful that it's terrific.

(Review from my website at
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