John Lennon: The Life

( 56 )

Overview

National Bestseller

Drawing on previously unknown sources, unpublished letters, and unprecedented access to all the key figures, author and journalist Philip Norman gives us the most complete and revealing portrait of John Lennon that is ever likely to be published.

For this masterpiece of biography, Philip Norman set himself the challenge of looking afresh at every aspect ...

See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$14.59
BN.com price
(Save 27%)$19.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (41) from $1.99   
  • New (17) from $4.73   
  • Used (24) from $1.99   
John Lennon: The Life

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$13.99
BN.com price

Overview

National Bestseller

Drawing on previously unknown sources, unpublished letters, and unprecedented access to all the key figures, author and journalist Philip Norman gives us the most complete and revealing portrait of John Lennon that is ever likely to be published.

For this masterpiece of biography, Philip Norman set himself the challenge of looking afresh at every aspect of Lennon’s much-chronicled life. He has not just dug deep into the archives, including his own vast collection of tapes and notebooks dating back to the 60s, but spoken to hundreds of witnesses, from every walk of life and every stage of Lennon’s. The interviewees include Sean Lennon, whose moving reminiscences reveal his father as never before, and Yoko Ono, who speaks with sometimes shocking candour about her marriage to John.

In his brilliant Shout!, we were shown a band; in John Lennon, Philip Norman gives us a portrait of a man. It reconciles as never before the contradictions of this endlessly fascinating character–the volatile and violent hippie, the phenomenally wealthy advocate of no possessions, the family man and junkie–and his journey from Liverpool suburbia to becoming one of the presiding geniuses of pop culture.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Washington Post Book World
“Powerful and heartfelt.”
Bloomberg News
“It’s this level of detail that makes Norman’s 822 pages such compulsive reading.”
Entertainment Weekly
“The bad news is that John Lennon: The Life is so rich and enveloping that it demands to be read…it’s a clear-eyed and compassionate study of a man...Grade: A-.”
Rolling Stone
“[Norman] sharpens what we know about Lennon at just about every turn…devotees will relish the new information, while casual readers will find a familiar story told more truly than ever before.”
USA Today
“[Norman’s] definitive biography draws impressively on exclusive and extensive interviews with Yoko Ono and, for the first time on the record, their son Sean…densely detailed, intricately woven and elegantly told, John Lennon: The Life neither condemns nor condones, nor does it consecrate its subject.
New York Times Book Review
“[A] haunting, mammoth, terrific piece of work.”
Entertainment Weekly
"The bad news is that John Lennon: The Life is so rich and enveloping that it demands to be read…it’s a clear-eyed and compassionate study of a man...Grade: A-."
Rolling Stone
"[Norman] sharpens what we know about Lennon at just about every turn…devotees will relish the new information, while casual readers will find a familiar story told more truly than ever before."
USA Today
"[Norman’s] definitive biography draws impressively on exclusive and extensive interviews with Yoko Ono and, for the first time on the record, their son Sean…densely detailed, intricately woven and elegantly told, John Lennon: The Life neither condemns nor condones, nor does it consecrate its subject.
New York Times Book Review
"[A] haunting, mammoth, terrific piece of work."
Washington Post Book World
"Powerful and heartfelt."
Bloomberg News
"It’s this level of detail that makes Norman’s 822 pages such compulsive reading."
Publishers Weekly

Graeme Malcolm does an excellent job reading Norman's studious biography of the most beloved Beatle. Beginning with Lennon's parents' roots in working-class Liverpool, and continuing through his enormous success as part of the world's most popular band and as a solo artist, Norman's biography covers all the bases of an already-well-thumbed life. Malcolm does a particularly superb job of capturing the inimitable Liverpudlian accents of the Fab Four, and Lennon in particular. Stately, but studded with flashes of good humor and a storyteller's sensibility for rhythm, Malcolm's reading is good enough to keep listeners hooked, as if they were listening to "I Want to Hold Your Hand," or "Let It Be." An Ecco hardcover (Reviews, July 7). (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

This extensive, thoroughly researched biography traces the life of John Lennon, who, nearly 30 years after his murder, remains one of the most intriguing and respected figures in popular music. Novelist and biographer Norman, who recounted the story of the Beatles in Shout!, focuses here on Lennon's life outside his legendary band, with particular emphasis on his subject's tumultuous, unconventional childhood, his strange and sometimes shocking relationships with and attitudes toward his parents, and his two very different marriages. Lennon's treatment of his discarded first wife and long-suffering, seafaring father are examined in rich detail, shedding new light on his complex personality. Norman investigates both Lennon the public figure and, more interestingly, Lennon the private man, revealing a uniquely talented and influential artist and activist who suffered from sometimes debilitating insecurity and abandonment issues that haunted him throughout his life. Exclusive new commentary from Yoko Ono, Paul McCartney, and sundry confidants and family members provides fresh insight to this accessible albeit lengthy work of popular biography. A highly recommended addition to any public library's music or biography collection. [See Prepub Alert, LJ6/15/08.]
—Douglas King

Kirkus Reviews
Comprehensive biography of the Beatles' most outspoken and controversial member, whose murder by a demented fan in 1980 only added to his legacy. Norman wrote one of the first and still one of the best Beatles histories (Shout!, 1981), and though he claims to have corrected many "inaccuracies and misjudgments" from that earlier work, there just isn't much new to say about the group's historic, hysterical popularity or John Lennon's role in it. The author, who is also a veteran novelist (Everyone's Gone to the Moon, 1996, etc.), tries to compensate by giving an in-depth account of Lennon's early years, stressing the lifelong rage and fear of abandonment instilled by familial instability. He was raised by his Aunt Mimi after his father left, while his mother Julia lived nearby with her lover. Lennon was traumatized by Julia's death in 1958, when he was 17. Norman takes a long time to get to the formation of the Beatles; the extraordinary songwriting partnership with Paul McCartney (who gets kinder assessment here than in Shout!); the group's seasoning in the tawdry clubs of Hamburg; their first taste of the mania they inspired in female fans when they played Liverpool's Cavern club in 1961; their breakthrough into national stardom thanks to manager Brian Epstein's and record producer George Martin's nurturing of their talent; the paradigm-shattering American tour of 1964; and the rest of the familiar tale, retold here with care but little passion. The author is frank enough about Lennon's insecurities and capacity for cruelty to have alienated his widow, Yoko Ono, who initially cooperated with Norman but withdrew her endorsement after reading the manuscript, concluding it was "mean toJohn." It isn't. Norman's fully three-dimensional portrait has no evident axe to grind, but it's also hard to tell why he bothered. He's particularly perfunctory with the post-Beatle years, evincing respect but no real affinity for Lennon's political radicalism and avant-garde adventures with Ono. Intelligent and sympathetic, but overlong and unfocused. Agent: Michael Sissons/PFD
From the Publisher
“Norman is brilliant at evoking the postwar world from which the Beatles emerged and to which their unprecedented global success signaled the end…. This is the best life of Lennon to date.”
The Guardian (UK)

“[A] well-crafted and altogether magisterial biography. A rich, rewarding portrait of a brilliant man.”
The Washington Times

“Mammoth and marvelous.”
Edmonton Journal

“[Norman] has uncovered much new material in his research for this impressive and highly readable book. It is greatly to Norman’s credit as a biographer that he does justice to all of it in a book whose 854 pages simply fly by.”
Sunday Times (UK)

“Powerful and heartfelt.”
Washington Post

“Epic.”
National Post

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060754020
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/8/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 864
  • Sales rank: 230,510
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Norman is the author of Shout!–The Beatles in Their Generation, and biographies of the Rolling Stones, Elton John, and Buddy Holly. He has also published four novels, two collections of short stories, and a memoir of his seaside childhood, Babycham Night.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Before leaving London for the Sweet Toronto Peace Festival in September 1969, John had finally made up his mind to resign from the Beatles. But the whirl of departure had left no time to break it to the other three.

On September 20, Klein called a meeting in Apple’s boardroom for the formal signing of the Capitol contract. For the first time in months that John had all his fellow Beatles on hand to hear his news. But initially he held back, confining himself to a generalized complaint about Paul’s dominance of the band since the Magical Mystery Tour album. “I didn’t write any of that except Walrus . . . ” His tone was more hurt than accusatory. “So I didn’t bother, you know, and I thought I don’t really care whether I was on or not, I convinced myself it didn’t matter, and so for a period if you didn’t invite me to be on an album personally, if you three didn’t say, ‘Write some more songs ’cause we like your work,’ I wasn’t going to fight.”

The insecurity and fatalism revealed in this outburst were surprising enough. But John did not stop there. Warming to his theme – though still wounded rather than angry – he accused Paul of always having overshadowed him, not only by writing more songs but also by inveigling the lion’s share of studio time. It was not a row, more like the airing of mutual grievances before a marriage counselor. Surprised, and not a little hurt himself, Paul conceded that he might have “come out stronger” on recent albums, but pointed out that often when they went into the studio, John would have only a couple of songs ready to record. John agreed his inertia had been a factor: “There was no point in turning ’em out – I didn’t have the energy to turn ’em out and get ’em on as well.”

Paul was all for burying hatchets and pressing forward, convinced all would be well if they could free themselves from balance sheets and office politics. “When we get in a studio, even on the worst day, I’m still playing bass, Ringo’s still drumming, we're still there, you know. . . .”

It was the cue for John’s bombshell. “He hadn’t even told me he was going to do it,” Yoko remembers. “John said, ‘You don’t seem to understand, do you? The group is over. I’m leaving’ “

“I started the band, I disbanded it. It’s as simple as that,” John himself would recollect. “I must say I felt guilty at springing it on them at such short notice. After all, I had Yoko; they only had each other.”

According to music-industry wisdom in 1969, not even the Beatles could split up and expect to continue selling records in significant quantity. It was therefore vital that no word of John’s resignation should leak out until the Abbey Road album had realized its full market potential. “Paul and Klein convinced him to keep quiet,” Yoko remembers. “We went off in the car, and he turned to me and said, ‘That’s it with the Beatles. From now on, it’s just you – okay?’ I thought, ‘My God, those three guys were the ones entertaining him for so long. Now I have to be the one to take the load.’ ”

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents


Pt. I The Country Boy
1 War Baby 3
2 The Northern Confederacy 22
3 The Outlaws 40
4 Shortsighted John Wimple Lennon 58
5 The Gallotone Champion 79
6 Buddies 102 Pt. II To the Toppermost of the Poppermost
7 My Mummy's Dead 127
8 Jealous Guy 151
9 Under the Jacaranda 169
10 Mach Schau 193
11 The Singing Rage 219
12 Shadowlands 248
13 Lucky Stars 279 Pt. III A Genius of the Lower Crust
14 Leather Tonsils in a Throat of Steel 315
15 The Big Bang 342
16 The Top of the Mountain 377
17 Real Life in Cinema Scope 408
18 A Most Religious Fellow 439 Pt. IV Zen Vaudeville
19 Breathe 469
20 Magic, Meditation, and Misery 501
21 There's a Good Little Guru 527
22 Back to Virginity 547
23 Bedlam 580
24 Withdrawal Symptoms 615
25 Beatledammerung 647 Pt. V Pizza and Fairy Tales
26 The Yippie Yippie Shake 681
27 Trouble with Harry 713
28 Beautiful Boy 742
29 Homebody 763
30 Starting Over 784 Postscript: Sean Remembers 809 Acknowledgments 819 Index 823
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 56 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(28)

4 Star

(18)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 58 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A good read and stays true to Lennon's life, but....

    This is basically a copy and paste effort, and there were a lot of grammatical errors, which I found distracting. <BR/><BR/>May Pang's influence on John should not have been underestimated (Elliot Mintz, Yoko's lackey, recalled that Pang never attained the status of being Lennon's old lady). She may not have, but she succeeded in getting Lennon and Julian together to "come together" in what could have been a very meaningful father/first born son relationship. I'm sure that she was glossed over since Yoko had input and I was very sure this would happen. A shame. According to May and very believably so, via dated pictures, she was a part of John's life for a long time.<BR/><BR/>For any avid Beatles fan, this was nothing that we did not already know.<BR/><BR/>I was disappointed.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 1, 2008

    Balanced, Thoughtful, Highly Revealing

    It is a shame that this is the third full Lennon bio to have appeared, simply because it is superb and I fear some potential readers may pass this one over. Philip Norman does what few Lennon/Beatles biographers manage to, he digs into the interior of this complex and interesting soul and provides an exhaustive and multi-dimensional view of the man. I am walking away from this wonderful bio [a very easy read] feeling as if I finally "know" this man I've admired for so long.<BR/><BR/>Norman seems very sensitive and insightful, and he manages to thoughtfully connect-[some]-dots of Lennon's lifetime in a way I've not encountered before. Normally the childhood & early years of a bio are ones I simply skim over; here, these chapters lay an essential foundation for the life that is to be explored. The author does a fabulous job of fleshing out Lennon's early familial years and bringing that post-war era Liverpool to life ... he does the same with the Hamburg years. Both of these are relatively under-explored and one-dimensional periods of the usual Lennon bio. What I like most about this book is that, while the Beatle years are certainly well-explored, this isn't a bio of "Beatle John." Rather, the man takes center stage while the Beatles and their music are presented as simply a part of an overall life.<BR/><BR/>There are a few areas skimped over or under-explored, however. The leap from Cavern Club regulars to global stars seems to happen suddenly, without much explanation or exploration. Likewise, I missed any seed-planting related to John's massive leap from "semi-violent Beatle John" to "hippy peace activist." That transformation is just presented without motivation or explanation. I also feel that the Dakota years are relatively under-explored, which is a shame given Yoko & Sean's participation in the project. <BR/><BR/>All in all, I would highly recommend this title for anyone remotely interested in Lennon and/or the Beatles. I'm not sure John Lennon will ever be fully understood even by those closest to him during his lifetime, but this intimate portrait brings us as close to him as we're likely to get. It truly is a wonderful book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 11, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    When I first started reading this book and saw that it is close to 900 pages, I thought I would never finish it. I am still reading it but it's going a lot faster than I thought it would. What an amazing man in such an amazing time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2013

    Woe Wow!

    Couldn't put this book down. Gripping to the end. Highly recommend!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2013

    I Loved This Book!

    I'm not the biggest Lennon fan, and certainly not the most knowledgable, but I feel like this very detailed and intense book really provided a glimpse of the man behind the celebrity!

    Very well-written and moves easily through the painful and bizarre periods of Lennon's life. The author gives a lot of attention to the tragic end and I was left feeling like I lost a loved one.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2013

    Good bok

    This gives lot of info its a good book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2012

    Want to read

    I really wat to read this guys. Thank you for your cooperation with me many thanks. And please, send me ome money or lend this to me.... if the book is LendMe¿.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2012

    Amazing book

    Best biography ever!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 27, 2011

    Great Book

    human face to a complex, brilliant icon

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 23, 2009

    The most detailed biography about John lennon ever.

    Book Review Outline
    Book title and author: John Lennon the Life by Phillip Norman
    Title of review: Greatest biography in the world
    Number of stars (1 to 5): 5

    Introduction
    It is a biography about the life of John Lennon and his family. This book would be great for people who want to learn more about John Lennon.

    Description and summary of main points
    The author is a great writer and has written many books including biographies on the Beatles. I think it's terrific how he put the book together. The main point of the book is to tell you about the life of the singer and song writer John Lennon.

    Evaluation
    I think the book gives a lot of information about him and I think the author did a lot of research to be able to find out what he was like and what happened to him as a kid. In the book it says a lot about his personal life and what he was thinking about when some of the events that occurred when he was living were going on. The book really did let you know all about the life of John Lennon because it started with him as a young child and ended when he was killed. I think that it's a lot better than other biographies about John Lennon.
    Conclusion
    The book has lots of great information for the reader. The author did a really did a great job with getting information about the book. The book really helps with learning about John Lennon.

    Your final review
    I think that this is the single greatest biography about John Lennon in the world. I also think that the author is one of the best authors in the world. The author must have been researching on this book for years.

    Book Review Outline
    Book title and author: John Lennon the Life by Phillip Norman
    Title of review: Greatest biography in the world
    Number of stars (1 to 5): 5

    Introduction
    It is a biography about the life of John Lennon and his family. This book would be great for people who want to learn more about John Lennon.

    Description and summary of main points
    The author is a great writer and has written many books including biographies on the Beatles. I think it's terrific how he put the book together. The main point of the book is to tell you about the life of the singer and song writer John Lennon.

    Evaluation
    I think the book gives a lot of information about him and I think the author did a lot of research to be able to find out what he was like and what happened to him as a kid. In the book it says a lot about his personal life and what he was thinking about when some of the events that occurred when he was living were going on. The book really did let you know all about the life of John Lennon because it started with him as a young child and ended when he was killed. I think that it's a lot better than other biographies about John Lennon.
    Conclusion
    The book has lots of great information for the reader. The author did a really did a great job with getting information about the book. The book really helps with learning about John Lennon.

    Your final review
    I think that this is the single greatest biography about John Lennon in the world. I also think that the author is one of the best authors in the world. The author must have been researching on this book for years.

    Book Review Outline
    Book title and author: John Lennon the Life by Phillip Norman
    Title of review: Greatest biography in the world
    Number of stars (1 to 5): 5

    Introduction
    It is a biography about the life of John Lennon and his family. This book would be great

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A wealth of information!

    This book was absolutely filled with information about the great John Lennon. It told so much about his childhood and the road to the Beatles as we knew them. I would have liked a little more personal information about his life with Cynthia, and felt that his life with Yoko was a little glossed over. All in all it is THE book to read to know John Lennon as the genius and the flawed human being who didn't always do right by people. RECOMMENDED!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 3, 2009

    Riveting depiction of music business especially regarding Rock & Roll groups

    No hold barred describing the characters involved. Very interesting comparisons of how the groups are viewed in England as compared to American idol status. A real education of how a groups can become a sensation or die on the vine. A real "can't put down" book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 18, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Entertaining

    I have read a few other Lennon books but I did find this one to be well rounded and quite absorbing as I read it on holiday. It is a good "gift giving" book and is full of info that fans would like.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2009

    Nothing new here

    If you are an avid beatle or john lennon fan , there is nothing new to read here. I think everything that could be written about the beatles or john lennon has already been done. If you are not familure with the beatles or lennon then you have all the info you need here 800 plus pages full

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Author, Light at the End of My Pen

    John lennon, is the best! Can't wait to read this book. I like to think I've kept the torch going. My first book published this year. Am recommending John Lennon, by Philip Norman and Light at the End of My Pen, by John D. Perez

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 58 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)