John Lennon: All I Want is the Truth

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Award-winning biographer Elizabeth Partridge dives into Lennon’s life from the night he was born in 1940 during a World War II air raid on Liverpool, deftly taking us through his turbulent childhood and his rebellious rock’n’roll teens to his celebrated life writing, recording, and performing music with the Beatles. She sheds light on the years after the Beatles, with Yoko Ono, as he struggled to make sense of his own artistic life—one that had turned from youthful angst to ...

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Award-winning biographer Elizabeth Partridge dives into Lennon’s life from the night he was born in 1940 during a World War II air raid on Liverpool, deftly taking us through his turbulent childhood and his rebellious rock’n’roll teens to his celebrated life writing, recording, and performing music with the Beatles. She sheds light on the years after the Beatles, with Yoko Ono, as he struggled to make sense of his own artistic life—one that had turned from youthful angst to suffocating fame in almost a split second.

Partridge chronicles the emotional highs and paralyzing lows Lennon transformed into brilliant, evocative songs. With striking black-andwhite photographs spanning his entire life, John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth is the unforgettable story of one of rock’s biggest legends.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
National Book Award finalist biography and children's book author Elizabeth Partridge crafts an affectionate, intimate biography of the late great Beatle John Lennon. She offers especially poignant descriptions of Paul McCartney's first appearance in John's life ("His white sports jacket was shot through with metallic threads that sparkled in the sunlight, his black drainies tight, his hair carefully Brlycreemed into a 'duck's arse.' ") and the experience of living inside the madness of Beatlemania.
Publishers Weekly
As she did for Woody Guthrie in This Land Was Made for You and Me, Partridge here presents a captivating portrait of a legendary musician, tracing Lennon's life from his birth in 1940 during a German air raid on Liverpool to his murder in Manhattan 40 years later. This well-researched photobiography (with 140-plus photos) includes copious quotations from Lennon and his colleagues, ranging from eloquent to profane; paired with Partridge's crisp reporting, the quotes offer a spontaneous and incisive look at Lennon's life. At times, the narrative suggests a level of intimacy that readers might question (e.g., when Cynthia, who would become John's first wife, tells him she is pregnant: "She watched, her heart pounding in her chest, as he looked at her, speechless"), but the well-known milestones are documented in detail. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Handsome is the first word that comes to mind when looking through this oversize biography of the famous Beatle. The 9¾ by 11 format features lots of full-page and double-page black-and-white photographs. The biography is, as you might expect, about the man, the 1950s, '60s and '70s, drugs, sex, rock 'n' roll, rebellion, and protest. While this biography is visually stunning, Partridge's writing is not as good as in her previous book, a biography of Woody Guthrie (This Land Was Made for You and Me, Viking 2002) that garnered lots of well-deserved praise. There is too much slang, such as the Beatles "blasted their way" through 20 cites; or stock phrases about "amazing" work; or office babble, such as "Ringo cycled through" several jobs; or wincing combinations, such as "palpable, contagious excitement." Yet, it is still an attractive book that older kids, young adults, or gray-haired Beatle fans should enjoy. 2005, Viking Press, Ages 12 up.
—Michael L. Cooper
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Partridge cuts through the mythology and misinformation surrounding the life of the legendary singer/songwriter and goes a long way toward revealing the complexities of his personality. She relies heavily on Lennon's own writings and the wealth of interviews he granted during his lifetime. What emerges is an unflinchingly honest portrait of a troubled, angry, and highly creative individual who was captivated by rock 'n' roll and often used it as a means of expressing his unhappiness and confusion. Partridge skillfully captures the amazing speed at which the Beatles were swept into astonishing popularity that led to an unrelenting schedule of touring, songwriting, and recording that slowed down only when touring became both too grueling and too dangerous. She doesn't shy away from the sordid details of the band's mercurial rise to fame and fortune but her nonjudgmental commentary focuses first and foremost on the music. Lennon's life after the dissolution of the Beatles is explored in depth, as are Yoko Ono's influence and the worldwide impact of his death. With an abundance of gorgeous black-and-white photos, some of them full-page or even spreads, this handsome book will be eagerly received by both Beatles fans, who are legion, and their elders, who will enjoy reliving the glory days of the Fab Four and exploring the inner workings of a creative talent.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"The guitar's all very well, John, but you'll never make a living out of it." Despite his aunt's admonition, learning to make a living out of his guitar was the theme of John Lennon's life, and Partridge does a masterful job of placing Lennon's music in the context of his times-the influences of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, as well as the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War and Watergate. Lennon comes across as a brilliant, self-centered, self-destructive figure caught up in a pop culture world that reflected and exaggerated his own worst tendencies. Given the massive amount written about the Beatles, separating the man from the myth is a huge challenge, superbly accomplished here, with great attention to documentation. Source notes let readers into the process of writing nonfiction, and the bibliography is excellent. Photographs and other primary source material help to create an honest, multidimensional portrait of the artist. Strong language, partying, sex and drugs were a big part of John's life, and their portrayal makes this a work for older readers, who will find it fascinating. (afterword, discography, index) (Nonfiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670059546
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile
  • Publication date: 10/6/2005
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 334,028
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 1010L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 10.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Read an Excerpt

The Quarry Men hadn’t played many recent gigs when Pete’s mother arranged for them to play July 6, 1957, at the St. Peter’s Parish Church garden fete—the big summer celebration in Woolton.

By midday when John met up with Pete, the day was already warm. Though he was still underage, John managed to pick up several bottles of light ale and guzzle them down on their way. By the time they arrived, the church grounds were decorated with flags, balloons, and bunting. In the big white refreshment tents, women were putting together sandwiches and laying out homemade cakes.

Mimi arrived just before the Quarry Men started their first set. She was having a cup of tea in one of the tents when the band started up with a loud explosion of noise. Mimi followed as everyone poured out of the tent to the far field where the band was set up. John caught sight of her as she walked toward the stage, openmouthed, staring at him. He quickly began busking, making up words to the song he was singing. “Mimi’s coming,” he sang. “Oh, oh, Mimi’s coming down the path. . . .” It was the first time Mimi had ever seen him playing with the Quarry Men. She couldn’t believe her eyes. The band moved on to their other big numbers, “Railroad Bill,” “Cumberland Gap,” and “Maggie May.” While Mimi was still reeling, a friend of Ivan’s, Paul McCartney, arrived on his bike. Paul was dressed to kill: He’d come to the garden fete hoping to pick up girls. His white sports jacket was shot through with metallic threads that sparkled in the sunlight, his black drainies were tight, his hair was carefully greased back in a “duck’s arse.”

Paul arrived in time to hear John singing the Del Vikings’ recent hit, “Come Go with Me.” Instead of singing the lyrics “Come go with me, don’t let me pray beyond the sea,” John threw in words from American rhythm and blues songs: “Come go with me, down to the penitentiary.” Paul was fascinated, amazed that John was making up his own lyrics. While the Liverpool City Police Department put its German shepherds through their obedience trials—the day’s big attraction—John and the other Quarry Men moved their equipment to the empty church hall where they were scheduled to play for the evening dance. They sat on folding chairs in the hall, drinking beer and talking.

Ivan turned up with Paul, eager to introduce him to John. John regarded Paul warily, then Paul borrowed a guitar and whipped into Eddie Cochran’s “Twenty Flight Rock.” John was incredulous. The song was too difficult for the Quarry Men. John moved in close, drunkenly hanging over Paul’s shoulder, eager to watch his fingering. Paul ripped through “Be-Bop-a-Lula” and a couple of his favorite Little Richard songs. To top it off, Paul tuned John’s guitar, showed him a couple of chords, and wrote out all the lyrics to “Twenty Flight Rock.”

John, used to making snap decisions, was faced with a dilemma. Though Paul was nearly two years younger, he had impressive musical skills. He even knew how to tune his guitar! Having him in the group would immeasurably improve their music. But John worried it might also threaten his leadership. “I half thought to myself, ‘He’s as good as me.’ Now, I thought, if I take him on, what will happen? I’d been kingpin up to then.”

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2013

          This book is amazing for any fan of the Beatles.  Elizabet

          This book is amazing for any fan of the Beatles.  Elizabeth Partridge writes a excellent biography of John Lennon.  I found this book
     very informative and interesting.  It gives an insight into the life of one of music's greatest stars with facts and photographs.
         From his birth to college and adulthood, Partridge gives the reader an inside view of the up's and down's in Lennon's life.  It also goes 
    into the darker side of stardom by showing the drug usage of Lennon and how it effected his career and relationships.  The photographs 
    of his family and band members shows how fame has its highs and lows.
         This book is valuable for students researching the life of John Lennon and for fans that just want to learn more about the music 
    legend.  The elements of writing as well as photographs give validation into his life.  I would recommend this book for anyone that is 
    interested in Beatlemania.


    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 2, 2012

    I Also Recommend:


    This book is a MUST READ for a Beatles fan, Music lover, or anyone for that matter. Elizabeth Partridge delivers John Lennon's life story in a Brilliant way by using great writing and fantastic photos.

    So if you want to read a book that you will love, then i suggest this one!

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    Posted September 28, 2010

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    Posted November 10, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2010

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