John Lennon: The Life by Philip Norman

John Lennon: The Life

By Philip Norman

  • Release Date: 2009-10-06
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4.5
From 107 Ratings
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For more than a quarter century, biographer Philip Norman's internationally bestselling Shout! has been unchallenged as the definitive biography of the Beatles. Now, at last, Norman turns his formidable talent to the Beatle for whom being a Beatle was never enough. Drawing on previously untapped sources, and with unprecedented access to all the major characters, Norman presents the comprehensive and most revealing portrait of John Lennon ever published.

This masterly biography takes a fresh and penetrating look at every aspect of Lennon's much-chronicled life, including the songs that have turned him, posthumously, into a near-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—his upbringing by his strict Aunt Mimi; his allegedly wasted school and student days; the evolution of his peerless creative partnership with Paul McCartney; his Beatle-busting love affair with a Japanese performance artist; his forays into painting and literature; his experiments with Transcendental Meditation, primal scream therapy, and drugs. The book's numerous key informants and interviewees include Sir Paul McCartney, Sir George Martin, Sean Lennon—whose moving reminiscence reveals his father as never seen before—and Yoko Ono, who speaks with sometimes shocking candor about the inner workings of her marriage to John.

“[A] haunting, mammoth, terrific piece of work.” -New York Times

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—and reveals how the mother who gave him away as a toddler haunted his mind and his music for the rest of his days.


  • Addicting Read!

    By Trennonking
    Such a fascinating page turner. If you're a diehard Beatles fan you'll love it!
  • Great Biography

    By Pilo_jose
    Two thumbs up!
  • John Lennon "the life"

    By Andyvause
    A great insight into the lives of those who were a part of John Lennon's. Especially Sean's perspective on his relationship albeit a short one, but it gave me an understanding as to what he had lost from John's tragic death. I only would wish more was said about how Yoko was doing now. Still and always supported her from the time I was old enough to understand what was going on. ✌️
  • Somebody get this guy a halfway decent copy editor!

    By CSK777
    A good read, generally, informative and fun. If you like the Beatles, or popcorn reading, this is for you. Don't expect literature, however. At one point, the author describes Lennon thus: “his eyes take on a stony blankness, like some marble knight lying with folded hands for eternity in the hushed transept of a cathedral.” (Cringe) Really? No one seems to have caught purple patches like this -- there are several -- or sophomoric phrases such as when he speaks of George Martin turning the "precious ore" of the Beatles' first draughts into "diamonds." Oof. If you don't mind writing on a middle school level, this book may entertain you. If you demand good prose, pass it by...
  • Fantastic but Infuriating- no photos????!!!!!????

    By datorr
    This book was so engaging and well written. Since when is it not possible to put photos in an e-book? Photos are a critical part of enjoying a contemporary biography. I feel cheated. Why should my experience reading it be lessened by the inability or unwillingness of the publisher to include photos?
  • One of the best

    By Cool Guy 2.0
    This book is as good as the McCartney bio FAB. I really enjoyed it and cruised through. A very balanced book that didn't canonize Lennon as a "saint" like some books do.
  • John Lennon: The Life

    By nickswitz
    As familiar as I thought I was with the Beatles and John, having grown up a dedicated fan and visiting the Imagine Mosaic for his memorial frequently, I barely knew the man. He wasn't perfect, but he was brilliant. I gasped at the description of December 8, 1980 remembering the pain I felt 31 years ago.
  • John Lennon bio

    By Delspeedy
    All I needed to know about John. Thank you Del
  • Perfectly balanced

    By Rustman18
    This book, in my opinion after reading it twice (for fun), is one of the better bio's of John Lennon. After reading some 20+ bios of John Lennon, this one is the most accurate, in that it dosen't have excessive flaws (titles of songs were spelled correctly, dates were the most accurate). My favorite quality of the book is Norman's fairness. While Norman gives the reader a sense of empathy of Lennon's life and why he made his choices, he isn't afraid to point out Lennon's flaws. My favorite is how he points out minor hypocrisies in Lennon's life. For example, Norman shares how when a one of Lennon's friends pointed out the contradiction in John's song Imagine, to John's lifestyle, Lennon responded by saying that it was only a song and nothing else. I also highly recommend Norman's other book "Shout" to any serious Beatle fan.
  • Same Story, not necessarily a bad thing either.

    By Hryby
    Nothing new, but still a great read to remember the facts behind Lennon's life. Since he died tragically his life has been transformed into something of legend, so this fact driven biography is refreshing for those who, either have learned about Lennon, or those who wish to begin. A great book that has been placed on my biography/ memoir shelf in my study, right next to John Adams by David McCullough.