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Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,985 ratings  ·  177 reviews
For the first time ever, Bono-the biggest rock star in the world-tells his life story.
Bono's career is unlike any other in rock history. As the lead singer of U2, Bono has sold 130 million albums, won fourteen Grammys, and played numerous sold-out world tours, but he has also lobbied and worked with world leaders from Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to Nelson Mandela on
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 21st 2005 by Riverhead Hardcover (first published January 1st 2005)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  1,985 ratings  ·  177 reviews

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Jul 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish
Okay, Bono is just incredible as we all know. I am interested in him as a person because I admire his work, both musically and on behalf of those in poverty. He is a role model to me, strange as it may seem, because I usually have female role models. I have to say, that after reading this book, I want to know more about his wife, Ali. She is phenomenal, too. Bono and I don't have much in common, except the Irish blood coursing through our veins. But that is huge to me! Growing up Irish in the 70 ...more
Sep 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
I'm glad that what this taught me is that a person who isn’t trying to be someone whitewashed and politically correct, whose faith is messy and out there but full of realness, balls-out craziness, and has a keen ear for God’s heart can really change the world.
quotes that stuck: “You know, celebrity is ridiculous. It’s silly, but it’s a kind of currency, and you have to spend it wisely.”
On Christmas: “The idea that God...the force of Love and Logic in the universe, that it would seek to explain
Adam Cormier
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: popsugar2020
A very good read. A different format than I've read before. The majority of the book is in Interview format where Michka asks a question and Bono answers it (answers never more than a page). Interview was conducted in person and through a series of phone calls over a couple of years.
Bono talks at length about his work for DATA (Bebit, AIDS, Trade, Africa) and how he hopes to help absolve debt for impoverished countries to they can become self sufficient.

I would recommend thi
Sep 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
The reason this book stands out is because Assayas doesn't keep his journalistic distance but presses into his friend and asks him the tough questions. He presses Bono on not speaking about Africa for over a decade and points out to him that colonialism in France was left-wing and championed by humanitarians. Bono doesn't really respond and dismisses the idea of irresponsible borrowing by African nations at one point but he does admit that aid created worse conditions and has propped up despots ...more
Faith Spinks
I found this to be a fascinating read and thoroughly inspiring on a good number of occasions as well. I remain torn between 4 and 5 stars. My ideal would be 4.5, so I have gone for the generous option.

The interview format of the book made it different to a standard biography but worked well at creating an atmosphere of closeness to Bono, as if you were there for the conversations with them. This was especially well created by Michka's simple scene setting for many of the interviews along the way
Mar 28, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the conse ...more
Daniel Taylor
Dec 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: U2/Bono fans, Christians
First, let me say that I'm not a fan of Bono or U2. I don't mean that I actively dislike them, what I do mean is that most of their songs don't grab me. Bono has bleeped on my radar more for his social justice work than anything else.

It's aimed at the fans, going to depth on Bono's thoughts on everything from politics and philosophy to the ups and downs of life in the band.

It's well-ordered and Michka Assayas asks the tough questions. Bono clearly prefers to avoid some topics, trying to go off o
Josh McConnell
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Bono is a smart, intellectual man. Sure, he can go a little overboard in hyping new U2 albums, but that doesn't mean he has a brilliant mind. His everyday words are poetic. The press loves it when he speaks because he gives fantastic soundbytes left, right and center.

All of this being said, Bono: In Conversation is a brilliant concept. It's like a biography, only it is done completely in Q&A interview format. You truly get a look inside the man's thoughts and ideas. I couldn't put it down.
Sep 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
A great book that is probably better than me, in that I took off a star for all the Africa-centric-ness of the last quarter. I'm fully in support of Bono's work there, and think it is inspiring to see someone doing so much for those who have so little, but at the same time, I admit my mind wanders after too long reading about debt reduction, trade, etc. The first 3/4 of the book are a bit more personal, which is more appealing to me. ...more
Jul 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
If you think of Bono as a poet, rather than a rock star, then you won't be surprised at the level of introspection and insight that is revealed in this book. Granted, I think you have to be a U2 fan to enjoy it like I did, but there are interesting discussions about the music industry, poverty in the third world, and his Christian faith.

Here are a couple interesting passages:

"It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the Universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this i
Tim Hoiland
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Which is saying something, because there was many a time when the interviewer, a French music journalist and long-time friend of Bono's, really got on my nerves. He's like that grumpy guest at the dinner party who constantly asks the host awkward and invasive questions in front of everybody. But in the end, those questions are precisely what got Bono talking, which is why the format of this book works so much better than your typical celebrity memoir. ...more
Aug 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this review first appeared on []

for a long time i've held a kind of ambition to meet bono. i guess that is a fairly cliche ambition, but there it is. a wave of excitement swept through new zealand a few months ago - U2 were returning after about 12 years of absence. people went crazy paying amazing prices for tickets on internet auction sites, queued through the night, and spent hours trying to buy tickets online. in the event, for now we have all been treated to a
Feb 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
My husband introduced me to the music of U2 in the mid-80s and I've been a fan ever since. I wasn't sure what to expect from reading this book. Usually, conversations with rock stars aren't that fulfilling to read. This book was a wonderful surprise. It is written as conversations between Bono and a musical journalist named Michka Assayas.. who, as it turned out, is also a friend. They speak about his family... the death of his mother when he was 14, his father and their complicated relationshi ...more
David A.
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to communicate how thoroughly I appreciated this book. My wife (or was it my mother-in-law?) bought it for me about six years ago, but I didn't read it till the week before I saw U2's last US stop on their 360 tour, in Pittsburgh. Having just read up on Bono's theology, his philosophy of art, his political philosophy, his memories of thirty years with the band, I was set up for a particularly immersive concert experience. Bono reflects repeatedly on the "moral force" of the issues he's ...more
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's not often I write about a book I have read but this one is extraordinary. After having a 'love affair' with Bono and U2 over the years I now know why. Bono (and The Edge) are very spiritual people in the best way. If Bono had been the priest at my church in my youth I may still be attending because he speaks of the faith, the charity and the faults that we as humans should have as a part of our life. Not fire and brimstone and hatred. His own inner beliefs are laid out for all to see - the ...more
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Bono comes across as a genuinely good person in this book. Try as he might, the interviewer is unable to get him to spill on people with whom he's interacted. The few times Bono says negative things about people he keeps them anonymous.

His deep and abiding faith is evident throughout the book, and especially in the chapter entitled Add Eternity to That. Bono ends this chapter with the suggestion that it should be entitled, "For those not interested in God, please pass by". In it he shares a powe
Aug 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
I've spent a long time reading this book of interviews with Bono. I found it really enlightening in a spiritual sense-- something I didn't expect. I've always admired the man so it's really nice to read about his faith, his love of family, and his conflicting desire to be both a rock star and to save the world. I do admit, however, that the first 3/4 of the book is more interesting than the last quarter. I don't necessarily blame Bono for this, though. The author focused more on the personal ear ...more
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
After seeing the U2 360 Chicago concert, I was curious to understand Bono. Who is he? What inspires him? How did he move from fledgling Irish pub band singer to international rock star and humanitarian?

Presented in magazine interview format, this book is a very intimate look at Bono's life, his beliefs, world politics, music history and how they all shaped the man and his continuing mission. Many passages are deep and moving. You can't help but be in awe of the artist who has experienced so much
Oct 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
What I found profound about this interview with Bono is how comfortable he is with who he is and how it has allowed him to transcend any boundaries or obstacles. It's very, very philosophical about life, values and spirituality. To refuse to read it because you don't like U2 is misguided. To read it because you want a history of U2 is also misguided. (It really isn't about U2.) ...more
Aug 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book did not disappoint--this is a celebrity who takes his causes very seriously and knows a lot about them, enough to debate with and influence some of the most powerful politicians in the world, all from the perspective of a strong Irish tenacity and faith. There's great insight into U2's music, too. ...more
Debbie Jo
Aug 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone curious about Bono
A rare look into the life of Bono. He has said that talking with Michka Assayas for this book was like therapy for him. His insights are open and shed light on both his political and personal life. He comes across as so much more than just a rockstar...but then we knew that already didn't we! ...more
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
I found it very interesting and insightful, although it's an older book (2004)it has a lot of relevance today, when it comes to foreign aid for Africa, etc. I would love to know his thoughts about the time since then... ...more
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I like U2, though I am not a huge fan (I have War, The Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby, and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb in my collection), but I have great admiration for the way that Bono has used or at least attempted to use his celebrity to raise awareness and challenge world leaders to give a fig and do something, for Christ's sake, about the plight of the many poor and downtrodden in the world. I read this book, now somewhat dated, on a lark with low expectations, but found the verbal sword ...more
K.J. Cartmell
Oct 11, 2018 rated it liked it
This one is definitely for hardcore U2 fans. I'm not sure if it would be interesting to anyone else. Rather than a strict, linear biography, music journalist Michka Assayas conducts a series of wide ranging interviews with the Irish band's lead singer. They discuss God, religion, aid to Africa, and Bono's childhood growing up in Dublin. There is very little here about the music, and band dynamics are barely touched upon. Assayas is a friend of the singer, and although he asks some tough, journal ...more
Vesna Filipovic
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a U2 fan, and a huge admirer of Bono Vox so for me this was an easy read. I wanted to know more about him, his personality and his thought process, and this book helped me understand him more. He is an intellectual and he is always intellectually challenged which is impressive. I am grateful for his existence, because he is the living showcase what one person can achieve not just for himself but others as well. His involvement in Africa and charity over the years is very moving and after re ...more
Apr 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This. Was. So. Good. Love the conversation style. Lots of challenging questions about spirituality, celebrity and fame and Bono’s activism over the years. It provides an education on the political and social activism Bono embraces. More scripture references than I could have imagined. I think Bono reads and studies the Bible more than many I know and shares the Gospel in a way I envy. Also so many deep and wise “truth bombs” (quotes from Bono) that moved me and made me want to remember them. At ...more
Neil Gilbert
Dec 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Reading this book 15 years after publication provides some space for contemplation. Overall, Bono seems like a super self-aware guy, open to being used for public benefit without being chewed up and spat out. I appreciate the amount of work he's done charitably. It must be an enormous amount of work to shift your priorities to the plight of others when you are enjoying great success. I'm not a rock star enjoying great success but I am reminded that I need to care more about others and will try h ...more
Jon Riggs
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed the book much more than I thought I would. I have always liked Bono, but sort of thought that if I looked deeper than the public image he projects, I would be disappointed by what I found. I picked this up because I was going to a U2 concert, and I thought the what I read in the book might enhance the experience. I am closing the book tonight feeling that I got to know Bono. That I respect him more than before, not less. And that I learned from him.
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoirs
It's wonderful to hear Bono talk about everything - from his childhood to U2s musical choices to his accident and his charity work - in a way that feels as natural as this book does. Michka Assayas does a great job compiling all the conversations and tying them all together. I found it fascinating, and it's a book I'll keep for a long time (if not forever). I highly recommend it to anyone who likes Bono or likes U2 and wants to know more about both. ...more
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the closest Bono will probably ever get to writing a memoir. He is a busy guy, touring with U2, writing songs, caring for his family and basically trying to save the world. So in a series of conversations with his friend, Michka Assayas, he speaks openly about his faith, family, friends, and bandmates....also about his influences and passions. Deep and intimate and interesting.
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Michka Assayas is a French author, music journalist and radio presenter. In France, he is known for his rock reviews and the Dictionnaire du rock published in 2000 and his radio show on radio France Inter.

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