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Paul McCartney: The Life

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  2,050 ratings  ·  302 reviews
The definitive Paul McCartney biography, written with his approval by bestselling biographer Philip Norman.

Since the age of twenty-one, Paul McCartney has lived one of the ultimate rock-n-roll lives played out on the most public of stages. Now, Paul's story is told by rock music's foremost biographer, with McCartney's consent and access to family members and close friends
Hardcover, 864 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Little, Brown and Company
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  2,050 ratings  ·  302 reviews

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May 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having been a fan of the Beatles, and Paul McCartney in particular, for most of my life, I was more than a little surprised when I first heard that Philip Norman had embarked on a biography of McCartney. The author of, “Shout!” and “John Lennon: The Life,” had always seemed to put Lennon at the centre of the Beatles story and was, I felt, unsympathetic to McCartney. Indeed, from the first page of this book, it seems that Norman himself was pretty astounded when Paul McCartney, if not making this ...more
Shirley Revill
I am so glad that I listened to this audiobook as it covered so much about Paul McCartney's life that I didn't know.
The narration was absolutely wonderful as was the story of Paul McCartneys rise to fame with the Beatles.
From the formation of the Beatles to recent years the book makes compelling reading.
Paul McCartney has also suffered some very sad times in his life with the death of John Lennon and George Harrison and also his soul mate Linda McCartney which had a devastating effect on Paul.
Steven Walle
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent read on Paul Mccartney's life as a Beatle and as himself. It was a fair look at the life of a pop star. This book didn't gloss over any of the blemishes of life nor did it dwell on them. I would recommend this book to all Beatle fans as well as Wings fans.
Be Blessed
Nov 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have been a Beatles and Paul McCartney fan for as long as I can remember and when Paul came to Verizon Arena in Little Rock, Arkansas this year I had to go see him. His musicianship was like no one I've ever seen before - Paul is an absolutely professional musician and entertainer, and he puts on an awesome show (even at 73!) A week or so after that concert, this book was published and the marketing timing couldn't have been better.

Paul McCartney The Life by Philip Norman is a great biography
Donna Cianciosi
Jun 17, 2016 rated it did not like it
So after 35 years of trashing Paul by this author He finally gets around to writing the 'definitive' biography. A pity that there are so many mistakes....even photographs are incorrectly labeled. Pity I can't ask for a refund. I've read much better works than this. A real disappointment - but can't say I'm not surprised. ...more
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: beatles-books
Philip Norman, in his 3rd Beatle-related biography, has proven that he is unable to write about one Beatle without diminishing another. He all but eliminates George Harrison from the story of McCartney’s life. When Harrison is mentioned, it is often in a way that belittles his role in the Beatles, dismisses his talent, and misinterprets his character. In discussing the Beatles’ interest in transcendental meditation, Norman describes Harrison as “leaving behind most of his sense of humour.” And l ...more
David Glaser
May 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
Very Disappointing

The Beatles have had a profound impact on music and on society. So writing a book about them is a kind of sacred act. Unfortunately, this author misses the mark entirely. He is focused on telling his own story with the Beatles as a backdrop. The overall tone is shallow and self-serving.

For example, “George found Indian religion and lost his sense of humor . . . John dumped his pleasant wife for a Japanese performance artist and went off on weird tangents.”

This is an authorize
Christine Irvin
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading this book yesterday. It took me a week to get through it. It's over 800 pages long! The pages are packed with information and tidbits about Paul McCartney - his life before being a Beatle, his life after the Beatles ended, and his life since then.

This icon of pop music has lead an amazing life. Author Philip Norman does a great job of telling McCartney's life story. Although the book is very long, the writing is interesting and not dry. It's a must-read for any diehard Be
May 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
In the intro to Philip Norman's new McCartney bio the author acknowledges he wants to set the record straight after having given Paul short shrift in his 1980s Beatles bio "Shout", a book which (particularly in the wake of Lennon's murder) helped perpetuate the stereotype of John having been the group's avant-garde risk taker with Paul portrayed as the safe-as-milk fluffy sentimentalist. Thus this book comes off as sort of an apology, though in Norman's eagerness to make amends he perhaps goes t ...more
Troy Blackford
Jun 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This comprehensive book covers Paul's life up until the beginning of the tour that he is actually still on, so, unlike many other books, it doesn't basically end at the point where the Beatles broke up. A great, extremely in-depth look at one of the most important contemporary figures. A lot of this is pretty surprising: there are anecdotes aplenty. Much of the rest provides depth and background to things many people will already know. But it was a great read and well-handled. ...more
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Every now and then I forget just how much I love the Beatles... Then I come across something like this and the mania is all there again :D

Need I mention I loved this book? I really liked how the author focused on Paul's life post-beatles, something which is often only handled as a short epilogue in biographies. It was also well written, even if at times I would have preferred for the storytelling to be a bit more objective. Still, a great biography and definitely worth the read!
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I was 12 years old when the Beatles came to the US in 1964, a perfect age to become a Beatlemaniac. In reading teen magazines prior to their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, my favorite was George. But that changed the night of February 9, 1964, when glued to the TV set as were 73 million other people, I fell under Paul McCartney’s spell. For the rest of the 60’s, I read anything and everything written about him and the other Beatles. True Beatlemania had set in.

But over the years, I can’t sa
May 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-books
Paul McCartney is one of the most well-known, often written about musicians alive, yet I somehow inhaled this 800 plus page biography in a matter of days. The author had an early encounter with Paul over 50 years ago and was none too impressed. He was even a touch hard on him in his biography of John Lennon (which has been added to my list), so it is interesting that he wrote this book with Paul's tacit approval. Much of the first half of this concerning the Beatles origin story, I've already re ...more
Dan Merrill
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very Interesting take on a musical genius! A good read, covering the highs and rough spots of a brilliant life.
Neil Bostock
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Paul McCartney: The Life is 800 pages long. I like biographies, but there are few people I'd spend that kind of time or focus on, and I wasn't sure "Macca" was one of them. Superlative melody writing aside, I doubted his life, especially his post-Beatle life, could hold my attention for that long. But Philip Norman has put together an eminently readable tome that illuminates very familiar stories, like the John-Yoko-Paul emotional triangle, and sheds fascinating light on more prosaic matters lik ...more
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For readability I give this book 4 stars. For those who've read Norman's other Beatles books, there could very well be a "cut and paste" for much of the Beatles material. Yet Norman explores the post-Beatles McCartney in detail.

What makes the "thumbs-up" smiling diplomatic Macca tick? Norman writes about Paul's upbringing, his father's influence, and Paul's desire and ambition to make something of himself. The Beatles story is well-documented, but Paul's depression once it was over and building
Mar 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
I learned so much! And had my heart broken several times. I don't usually read biographies, but I'm glad I read this one—it opened up not just Paul's life, not just the Beatles' career, but the entire 60s and 70s in pop culture. ...more
Jeff Grosser
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very thorough and well written biography of Paul McCartney. I highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Paul, The Beatles, or a lover of the history of great music!
Deacon Tom F
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Superb book. Well written and not overly star struck nor tell all. A perfect balance from my view
Sunny Shore
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When I was 11, the Beatles came to NY and performed on the Ed Sullivan Show. My world suddenly changed. Their music rocked my world and I literally fell in love with the handsome Beatle, Paul McCartney. I remember so much of it distinctly. I finally got to see them in 1966 at age 13. The whole idea of seeing the Beatles was enough, although you couldn't hear a thing at Shea Stadium in NY. It was the first time I stood up to my mother and said, "I'm going" against her wishes and she stood outside ...more
Dec 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: bio, non-fiction
2.5 stars
This is my first biography of Paul McCartney, so I have nothing against with to judge the facts/accuracy of Norman's work. His tone as a biographer is snarky and judgemental. Much like journalism, I think biographies benefit from being neutral. If the subject behaves badly, then present the facts and let the readers decide. The author can't seem to decide whether McCartney is a generous patron, coworker, and spouse or a tight-fisted micromanager.

I most enjoyed reading about McCartney's
Michael Platt
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A quality biography. Not sycophantic but quite fair. Some new information and a good look at the actual character of the subject. Disappointed that very little attention is given to the actual music, which is the only reason a biography of McCartney should be interesting. Written well and holds your attention - which is important as I would suspect that most people reading it are fans and have a pretty broad knowledge of the subject already.
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before reading this book, I could have said that my favorite Beatle was John Lennon but after reading this book my thoughts have changed. Paul McCartney has become a legend and still to this day. Excellent book.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Peter Jackson made all three of the Tolkien trilogy movies at the same time. I believe that is also what Philip Norman did with this book about Paul and the one I recently read about John Lennon. I enjoyed reading both of the books and recommend them both to you. My first inclination was to give this book only three stars. That was because much of the text was information I had just read in the John book. Also, at times it seemed to me that I was re-reading the text from the Beatles Anthology. T ...more
May 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a well balanced biography of Paul McCartney. It does not stop after the Beatles! I learned a great deal about him, his love of music and the painful parts of his life. I only had a vague knowledge of the breakup of the Beatles, I never knew how truly painful it was on all concerned.

I could have lived without the last chapters on Heather Mills, but I am sure he feels the same way too! Since I do not follow the tabloids, I had no idea what had happened. I am happy that there was a light a
Leslie Ferrari
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book much more than I expected. I'm not generally drawn to pop star biographies and to be honest, don't feel the need to be privy to a celebrity's private life. This book came out at the right time, as I'm headed to a annual Beatles festival, so I procured it from the library to read in advance of my trip. It was well written and edited, something that is no longer to be taken for granted. I feel that knowing the flavor of Paul the man does not detract from my respect from Paul the ...more
Elisabeth Banasik
Nov 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
There are some great and detailed reviews about this book out there so I don’t have to go such a “scientific” route and comment on how well researched which part is etc.

I came here to say one thing: If you want to be robbed of any magic attached to the Beatles as a band or the four members as individuals whatsoever - read this book.

And I really don’t like how the author can’t manage to make one person look good without making everybody else around him look bad.

Many years from now was a much m
Kate Sumner
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fab. I feel like I've been hanging out with Paul for the last month or so, and I now I'm missing him! There was one clumsy error however, where Phil Norman writes about Paul's birthday "in July", when even an amateur McCartney admirer knows he was born on 18th June.
However, I forgive you Phil, as this was overall such a great read, the best and most factual McCartney bio I've read to date - Put it There, Phil ;)
Mar 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Really well-researched and thoroughly depicting the musical and personal life of sir Paul McCartney. But it has a ridiculous amount of typos and it gets a bit tedious after the first 500 or so pages.
I'm not a McCartney fan per say, I enjoy listening to the old Beatles hits and the occasional Wings track, so 700+ pages of a systematic rundown of his entire career and love life was a bit much. Interesting - but a bit much when you're not THAT big a fan of the man.
Dec 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Repeats much of the (admittedly fine) material from the earlier Lennon biography, which was told with a lot more fizz than this. Interesting on the growth of The White Album, which I rate higher than even Sgt. Pepper.

Glad the Fab Four never actually did get round to filming The Lord of the Rings (with John as Gollum).
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Audiobooks are an incredible way to experience stories—a great narrator can use their voice bring the narrative to life in a way that the...
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“Recorded at the same time, but not destined for release until 19 months later, was John’s ‘Across the Universe’, melding the sweetest and loneliest of his lyrics (‘Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box…’) with the mantra he’d soon be chanting in the Himalayas. He wanted a female chorus totally without artifice so, rather than professional backing singers, it was decided to use two of the fans permanently on watch outside Abbey Road studios. Paul was deputed to fetch them, and picked out a pair he recognised from his own front gate in Cavendish Avenue. The girls’ awestruck voices created just the right effect for ‘Across the” 0 likes
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