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Publisher's Summary

Philip Norman turns his formidable talent to the Beatle for whom belonging to the world's most beloved pop group was never enough. Drawing on previously untapped sources, and with unprecedented access to all the major characters, here is the definitive portrait of John Lennon.

This biography takes a fresh and penetrating look at Lennon's much-chronicled life, including the songs that have turned him, posthumously, into almost a secular saint. In three years of research, Norman has turned up an extraordinary amount of new information about even the best-known episodes of Lennon folklore. The book's numerous key informants and interviewees include Sir Paul McCartney, Sir George Martin, and Yoko Ono, who speaks with sometimes shocking candor about the inner workings of her marriage to John.

Honest and unflinching, as John himself would wish, Norman gives us the whole man in all his endless contradictions: tough and cynical, hilariously funny - but also naive, vulnerable, and insecure. He reveals how the mother who gave him away as a toddler haunted his mind and his music for the rest of his days.

©2008 Philip Norman (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about John Lennon

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Really Bad Abridgement Job (slash job)

I always go for unabridged if available because I prefer to decide for myself which passages (if any) to skim. But the abridgements I've read in the past have at least provided decent transitions and for the most part not chopped out essential passages. Not so with this butcher job. Suddenly John leaps from one school to another without transition. The formation of his first band is left out, so you are dumped immediately in the middle of his Quarrymen period. At that point, I gave up on the audiobook and bought the real book. I was, and remain, totally puzzled how this abridgement was permitted to be sold to us. It's really, really, awful. Insensitive, thoughtless, bizarre.

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Not even an attempt at an abridgement

I find it unbelievable that a major publishing house would do such a haphazard job on an audiobook. I actually called Audible to see if a part was missing, because the audiobook skips all mention of John meeting Paul McCartney and George Harrison and forming the Quarrymen, among other glaring omissions. It turns out that the narrator is just reading certain unedited chapters from the book, so you get some things in great detail, while other, sometimes more important, things are completely skipped. There is no attempt at continuity; people and events will pop up with no explanation, because they had obviously been introduced in an earlier chapter that we did not get to hear.
The really frustrating part is that if the audiobook were unabridged, or had been abridged properly, I think this would have been a really great listen. The chapter about John's early childhood contained information that I, an avid Beatles reader, had never heard, and I found it riveting. The book is well-written, and the narration is also very good. It's a shame that the publisher did not to justice to its product with its lazy, lazy abridgement.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

What's there is good, but there isn't enough there

Why, oh why, does Audible provide unabridged versions of, say, a 3-volume history of the stapler yet insist on abridging books like this? The other commenters have it right: these are excerpts, not a real abridged version.

And the selections are puzzling: this version skips the entire first 3 albums, U.S. tour, etc., but gives in excruciating detail a long, Wikipedia-like history of LSD that is familiar from every 1960s documentary ever made. But John Lennon's life from 1974-1980? Missing.

The writing is good, as is the narration and the information provided. But you'll find yourself going back to see if you missed something because of inattention. You didn't. It isn't there.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Believe the reviews--horrible abridgment

Would you try another book from Philip Norman and/or Graeme Malcolm?

Sure. I think the entire book would have been great, or even a well-edited one. But this one makes you think you've zoned out and missed a big chunk or else had a technical malfunction. Graeme Malcolm is a good reader. Money: A Suicide Note was really great.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Guess.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from John Lennon?

Oh, God, please don't cut more.

Any additional comments?

I would like to hear this unabridged, but now I'm just cranky that I blew a credit on this book.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Abridged version is really poor

I have to concur with some of the other reviewers that the abridgement is awful. Several times I've gone back thinking I must have accidentally skipped forward. It skips from the release of Magical Mystery Tour album all the way to Lennon being on his own married to Yoko. As I recall, a few interesting things happened in between (i.e. White Album, Abby Road, Let It Be, break up of Beatles, divorce from Cindy). Very disappointing and I wish I could get my money back.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Abridged in haphazard fashion.

I tried to follow the story, but this abridged version is impossible to follow. Suddenly John is in the Quarrymen. Suddenly John and Paul are friends. There are long descriptions of songs and then five years disappear without comment.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Poorly Abriged

Unfortunately this book is very poorly abridged. At one point it is talking about the band trying to come up with a name and the next thing you know, the "Beatles" are filming 'Help'. and on, and on it goes.
If you are interested in this title, definitely go for the book. The abridged audio is lacking.

5 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Worst abridgment ever

I don’t know how this version is allowed to exist. The abridgment is terrible. It skips over John meeting Paul, skips over the first four Beatles albums, skips over the band breaking up. In one paragraph John and his first wife are having a fight after the Beatles had just recorded Magical Mystery Tour and in the next he is dating Yoko and they watch the “Let It Be” film together. Disgusting work, a total rip-off. It’s a bummer, because the depth and detail and writing in the parts that are here are fantastic, but you can not just skip huge important stuff like that.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The half of the book that is here is fabulous

The same author (Philip Norman) has a later companion piece called Paul McCartney: The Life. I listened to that audible version first and found it captivating and completely satisfying. At 864 pages and over 30 hours of listening, it was quite a commitment but more than worth it for a lifelong Beatles and McCartney fan.

I expected the same from John Lennon: The Life. I was aware that the audible version was abridged (why?) but did not notice the discrepancy in page lengths vs audible recording length. Well the page count is 822, only about 5% shorter than the McCartney version. Same author, same level of detail expected. But it turns out that the recording length is just under 13 hours, well less than half that of the McCartney version. Where did the rest go? I realized something was odd when the existence of the Quarrymen came about without any description. And something was horribly amiss when a reference to Paul (not even with last name) was made without him ever being introduced to the reader. I'm about halfway in and there's no point in even continuing having read the other reviews of the audible version. At least not without getting the print version and filling in the gigantic missing pieces.

Get the print version, you'll love it. Don't bother with this.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Great listen, bad abridgement

Like everyone else, I was very disappointed by the truly awful abridgement of this book. My favorite missing part (and there are so many good ones to choose from) is how the Beatles went from Christmas 1962 to full-blown rock stars in 1965. Uhmm... America and Ed Sullivan, anyone?

3 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Bernadette Kenny
  • Bernadette Kenny
  • 09-29-20

what a waste of a life so loved by the world

Enjoyed listening to the life of John Winston Lennon.
The narrator's voice was monotonous in comparrison to other talking books I've listened to but John's facinating life kept me listening to the end.His music lives on.