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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  4,242 ratings  ·  509 reviews
After 3 decades of groundbreaking music Bruce Springsteen still manages to amaze audiences around the world with his live shows and bring new fans to his music with every album release. Highly acclaimed music critic Peter Carlin tracks the Boss's dazzling ascent to fame, whilst painting a vivid portrait of the real Springsteen: an insistently private man who nevertheless w ...more
ebook, 512 pages
Published October 30th 2012 by Touchstone (first published January 2012)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,242 ratings  ·  509 reviews

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Jan 25, 2013 rated it liked it
This is the worst-written book that I have ever willingly read for this long (nearly finished). There's an absolute style or usage clunker on just about every page. I've never read so many sentence fragments in any book on any subject, even by the pulpiest authors. The way he uses footnotes is grating. It's amateurish hack-work without any apparent editor to save the author from himself. Did I mention that the writing is atrocious?

It's partially redeemed by the author's extensive reporting and
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of course it was really good - it's about Bruce! I've been a fan since 1975 when I first heard him & I would say a "major" fan since The River came out. My husband & I have seen him live six times, I think, & each time he just gets better!
Carlin wrote this in a straight-forward style that is enjoyable to read. I would like to read it again with a website open to Bruce's lyrics in front of me, as well as a stack of CD's & some of the music videos! That would be the slow way to read it. I took th
Dec 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Carlin's biography of Springsteen had some interesting insights, but it is not very well-written and lacks the passion I would expect. Carlin doesn't seem to be passionate about Springsteen's great lyrics, but he is enough of a fan to give him a pass on a lot of untoward behavior. It makes for a disappointing combination. The big bombshell about his antidepressant use that got so much press was kind of glossed over, and he sort of excuses Springsteen's extramarital affair.
Larry H
Nov 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
When you grow up in central New Jersey, particularly one town away from Freehold as I did, Bruce Springsteen is almost a religion. I had the same Spanish teacher he had in high school, knew all of his songs by heart, danced to Jersey Girl at more sweet 16 parties than I could count, saw concerts on countless tours, and at least once made the "Bruce pilgrimage," stopping by many of the places along his historic rise to legend status.

More than 25 years after moving away from New Jersey, "The Boss"
Thomas Strömquist
As I've let on in my updates, I did struggle quite a bit with this book. First off, I'm not a fan of Springsteen's, but that in itself doesn't diminish a biography I think. Naturally, people you admire or despise will bring interest up, but I do have experience with reading about someone I'm basically unfamiliar with and finding the experience very engaging. (Knowing only little about someone would actually be a really good reason to read a biography, I think). Anyway, this book had the most une ...more
Aug 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Just read the galley. I know I'm biased (married to the writer and all) but it's terrific. I feel like I know Bruce, inside and out. . . .
Marty Essen
May 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“Bruce” is an interesting book to review, because even though I have a bunch of complaints, it’s still a wonderful book, worthy of five stars.

Let’s start with my complaints:

First, this is a long book for a rock and roll biography. As I joked to my wife: I now feel like I know more about Bruce Springsteen’s life than I know about her life. This is especially true when it comes to Springsteen’s family history. In fact, author Peter A. Carlin devoted so much space to Springsteen’s ancestors that I
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, memoir-bio
too often rock biographies seek to canonize their subjects, offering up for consecration the revelatory details of sexual conquests, pharmacological overindulgences, and distended egos. in an art awash with tragic figures and truncated careers, perhaps the story of a musician possessed of an integrity matched only by his commitment to craft is the exception that belies the rule. bruce, peter ames carlin’s third work about one of rock n’ roll’s elite (after books on paul mccartney and the beach b ...more
David Jones
Mar 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Yay this is officially my first book review. I've never done anything like this before. Bear with me, I'm prone to typos and improper language. I was an accounting major, which may explain things. I don't even know if there's a proper way to review books.

My first read of the year was "Bruce" by Peter A Carlin. I checked it out of the Sierra Madre public library. There's nothing better then reading for free and supporting your library.

First off, I grew up a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. I was a chi
Anthony Coglianese
Only an avid Bruce fan like myself would take the time to trudge through this rather lengthy biography, but those same fans would likely be put off (like I was) by the author's seemingly pathological misquoting of the Boss' lyrics. If this book is supposedly so "well researched," you'd think he could at least get the song lyrics right.

I did learn a bit about Bruce's history and it was interesting to understand more about his early career, but it was also clear to me that Carlin was either kept
Pete daPixie
Feb 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poptastic, biogs
Scattered over my past four decades of live music gigs are memories of 'The Boss'. I first saw him in the U.K. for 'The River' tour in 1980, then for his 'Born in the U.S.A.' tour in '85 , again for the 'Tunnel of Love' tour in '88. I saw him as recently as 2009 at the Glastonbury Festival.
I still rate Bruce's first seven albums as must haves. Over the last twenty years I've kept abreast of news and album releases, which is not difficult with such a high profile musical artist.
Peter Ames Carlin'
Nov 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an exhaustive (and at times, exhausting) bit of Springsteenian history. From the birth of his parents through his world tour supporting "Wrecking Ball" and pretty much everything in between. "Bruce", through countless interviews with family, friends, musicians, various employees and even Springsteen himself, paints a not always flattering portrait of one of the greatest musicians of the 20 th century. If you're a fan, you may not learn anything new here but it's so well written that it a ...more
This was similar to the other Peter Ames Carlin biography that I read on Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys. Absolutely fascinating subject matter but somehow made to drag by having too many facts and not enough about the singer as a person. Both started off great but faded. If anyone has read a really good Springsteen biography that they'd recommend, I'd love to know though. Just been to my ninth Springsteen concert which was the first where we were lucky enough to get right at the front in the m ...more
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
Full review available on my blog, Open 'Til Midnight.

When offered an opportunity to review the latest biography on Springsteen (full disclosure: I received a complimentary advance copy from the publisher), I accepted, although I seldom read artist biographies. It’s not for a lack of desire to know more about the person behind the compositions; anyone who knows me well is aware of how suddenly I can begin to spout trivia about music and lesser-known details of a songwriter’s life (although I hav
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In more recent concerts Bruce Springsteen is like a preacher, and he whips the crowd to a frenzy in revival tents around the world. But what I remember, what I hold dear, are the shows I first saw in the early 80s, where he could command the audience to silence for up to 15 minutes or so while he told a story -- a story about coming home to find his dad sitting in the dark kitchen, about having to sit at the table with him in the dark and listen for a while before he was allowed to escape upstai ...more
Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
If you're a Springsteen fan, you'll love the book. If you're interested in the art of songwriting and the business of music, you'll like it. If you're neither of those things, the book probably provides more detail than you want. An overwhelmingly positive biography, but still entertaining to read--the stories (many of which have been embellished in Springsteen concert monologues, some of which might even be true) are great. I make no secret that I'm a huge fan, so the sometimes over-the-top pra ...more
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Often, one must be wary in taking up the reading of a biography of a rock-and-roll musician. There is a tendency for this type of book to sometimes be a slap-dash affair, a toss-off with litte actual regard for the subject at hand.
Not so with this deeply insightful, carefully researched, beautifully written biography of Bruce Springsteen. This is a fantastic read from start to finish. As a Springsteen devotee of some forty years, I can in all honesty say I came away from the book with a much fu
Jun 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
The nostalgia trip was heavy on this one. I guess that can happen in your 40s but like so many Americans this was an artist I truly grew up with and Springsteen is one whose overall vibe is so consistent with my own worldview. Some of my first memories of the radio - of the feelings that would turn the passion into a career - were of Springsteen songs from Born in the USA. Springsteen just taps into collective memory and brings up emotions similar to reading Whitman. He's absolutely indispensabl ...more
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
BRUUUUUUCE! It was quite fun to read and listen along as Bruce created each album. The end sections of the book are quite rushed, though, so I just finished listening to The Rising, one of my favorites. It could have been more in depth in many areas, but it was quite fun and THE BOSS is awesome in any case.

Gene Kannenberg Jr
Bruce Springsteen is another of my musical heroes. But I don't keep up on the latest music news like I used to, so I wasn't aware that there was a new book about him in the works until I saw a copy of it in a bookstore a few weeks ago. I quickly requested a copy from the library, and once it arrived I dove right in.

Peter Ames Carlin's biography Bruce is advertised on its dust jacket flap as "the first in twenty-five years to be written with the cooperation of Bruce Springsteen himself." That coo
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Author: Peter Ames Carlin
Publisher: Touchstone
Published In: New York City, NY
Date: 2012
Pgs: 494


First biography of Springsteen in over 25 years that had the cooperation of Sprinsteen himself. Intimate. Vivid. Reflecting the heart and soul of America in an award winning music career spanning over 40 years. From the birth of the nickname, to the firing of the E Street Band in 1989, to the reunion tour of 1999 that The Boss almost went awry with ambivalence,
Sarah Weaver
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Made me love the music of The Boss even more. Bruce Springsteen is a remarkable man who tells remarkable stories through music so timeless it has provided hope and inspiration to both young and old alike. Highly recommend this biography!
Michael Frazier
Aug 04, 2020 rated it liked it
My big sister gifted me this book for Christmas in 2012. I cannot recall how many times I've stared at its spine on my book shelf in almost eight years, pondering whether to pick it up and resume where I left off in early 2013. It took just a little more than seven years to actually do it. When I opened the book upon receiving, my sister slipped a note in the front cover. Though I won't share it here, I secured it to the inside cover so that anytime I need a reminder of my big sister's love and ...more
Paul Lyons
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography

I think this is the first biography I've read. Biographies are really, really not my thing. So I went out on a little bit of a ledge here. Still, I started in a pretty safe place. There aren't many people about which I'd actually care about the details of their lives. Musical artists (certain ones anyway, a very small list) may be an exception because their lives so inform their work. Bruce Springsteen is maybe the only artists who projects as powerfully as he does (for me). So, at the least, I
Mar 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
I grew up listening to Born in the USA and as a classic rock fan, always appreciated him. I'd heard about the Bruce concert experience but always wrote it off to overzealous fanboys (like the Rush fans who would corner you in 1985 and tell you about why Rush was the greatest band ever until you agreed or twisted away from their grasp). In 2009 or so, I got tickets to see him on his Working on a Dream tour. I figured it was a chance to see a legend close out the old Philly Spectrum on the last ni ...more
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was thrilled to get this big, chunky biography of Bruce Springsteen for Christmas this year. Though I grew up with Bruce's music and still eagerly follow his work, there were many things I knew about his life only in the most general sense. Carlin fills in the blanks in close detail.

The book's greatest strength is its painstaking chronology. Carlin dwells on Bruce's childhood and family background and on his many years as a hardworking, consistently broke, and peripatetic Jersey Shore musicia
Maryanne Welch
Jan 18, 2013 rated it liked it
While I wrote my senior year research paper on Bruce in 1976, with only the Time and Newsweek cover stories and few other reviews to go on, I never read one of the Marsh books or any others that came about him over the years.

Bruce, the book, starts 20 years before Bruce the man was born and ends with him at 62, working on new songs. Very complete, with regard to his career. It was a fun book to read, mostly because Carlin is a gifted music critic and describes shows from every Bruce tour in viv
Gary Anderson
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When two friends who don't know each other both recommended this book to me within 24 hours, I thought I should take a look. They steered me right!
Bruce does an exceptionally good job of dissecting Springsteen's childhood and examining the implications of how events from previous generations visited themselves on Bruce.
Author Peter Ames Carlin delves into Springsteen's early career in great detail, alternating between strands devoted to Bruce's development as a recording artist, stage performer,
J.J. Lair
Dec 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: bruce
I have read entire books, blogs, watched movies and documentaries on the just the song Born to Run. I've read a fair amount of books on Springsteen's life. I was concerned that the author chose to open the book with a death of someone 20+years before Springsteen's birth. I learned some things, like the origin of the song Kittie's Back, his almost hand's off approach to his best of collection, and some history of Freehold. For the most part, the author just wanted to fill the book with facts. I n ...more
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“Bruce has wrestled with his moods, and a psyche genetically prone to extremes, for most of his adult life. Decades of psychotherapy helped reveal and cast light on some of his most primal traumas and conflicts, but his raw moods, and occasional descents into full-blown depression, never quite went away. "You go through periods of being good, then something stimulates it," he says. "The clock, some memory. You never know. The mind wants to link all your feelings to a cause. I'm feeling that because I'm doing this, or because that happened."

Eventually Bruce realized that his worst moods had nothing to do with what was actually taking place in his life. Awful, stressful things could happen - conflicts, stress, disappointments, death - and he'd be unflappable. Then things would be peaceful and easy and he'd find himself on his knees. "You're going along fine, and then boom, it hits you. Things that just come from way down in the well. Completely noncasual, but it's part of your DNA, part of the way your body cycles."

Bruce knows his particular brain chemistry will never leave him completely in the clear. "You manage it, you learn and evolve, but another recognition you gotta have is that these are the cards you were dealt," he says. "These things are never going to be out of your life. You gotta be constantly vigilant and realistic about these things.”
“The highway's closed at a certain point. You have a certain amount of miles that you can make. It's a recognition of mortality.” 4 likes
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