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Extended Audio Sample John Lennon: The Life Audiobook, by Philip Norman Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (2,829 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Philip Norman Narrator: Graeme Malcolm Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2008 ISBN: 9780061738241
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For more than a quarter century, 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 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 comprehensive and most revealing portrait of John Lennon that is ever likely to be 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 before—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—and reveals how the mother who gave him away as a toddler haunted his mind and his music for the rest of his days.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[A] haunting, mammoth, terrific piece of work.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “[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.”

    Rolling Stone

  • “Powerful and heartfelt.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “[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.”

    USA Today

  • “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-.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “It’s this level of detail that makes Norman’s 822 pages such compulsive reading.”

    Bloomberg News

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller
  • A 2008 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Harrison | 2/14/2014

    " I'm probably the biggest Beatles fan you'll find who isn't over the age of thirty. So, as you can imagine (haha, pun intended!), I really had a good time reading this book, so much so that I brought it with me here, there, and everywhere. First of all, it was so detailed it was scary! (it was thicker than my bible and weighed as much as my cat.) But, what I liked about it most was that the author did not place any sort of opinion that would take away from the reader's experience of reading about this incredible man's life. The author told the story as it was, delving deep into Lennon's personal and professional life smoothly. If you're a fan, or just want to know more about this music legend, hurry up and read this book! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heather | 2/8/2014

    " This was a good read. Philip Norman seemed to be a bit jadded so that is why only 3 stars. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Drew | 2/5/2014

    " My friend let me read this and I couldn't finish it in time, but it was really interesting and jaw-dropping. I love John Lennon, so i really enjoy a look into his life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Indra | 1/21/2014

    " Good book. I've read a fair amount about Lennon and the Beatles, having been a fan of them as long as I can remember drawing breath. I thought this book was well researched and did provide some new insights and ideas--it was nice to hear more from Yoko and from Sean as an adult. (I would have liked to hear more from Julian...I hope he writes his own book one day.) Definitely worth reading for fans. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle | 1/20/2014

    " Very interesting, learned a lot about John and the Beatles that I didn't know before. I recommend it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Casie | 1/11/2014

    " The writer has such an incredibly understated sense of humor, that I'm definitely going to read this again. He led an incredible life. I especially enjoyed their early days living in squalor in Germany and eating fried chicken on stage during the acts. But I wouldn't read it again for that reason. I'd read it again for the writing style and for a good laugh. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David Roberts | 1/11/2014

    " Poignant and revealing, especially the links to various Liverpool locations and the words in Beatles songs. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mathew Peters | 1/7/2014

    " Great book about great music from a not-so-great man. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Fabio | 1/3/2014

    " the life and times of a human being who became a legend and truth behind it all.. a brilliant read.. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lawrence | 6/12/2013

    " Haven't cracked it yet, but hope to soon! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tracy | 6/9/2013

    " It was okay-ish...not crazy about it, would be great for someone who is interested in extensive info on the Beatles. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie | 5/3/2013

    " I'm surprised Yoko didn't authorize this book b/c she felt it was "mean to John", b/c after reading it John Lennon has been re-established as my favorite Beatle. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ted | 3/31/2013

    " I am loving it. A beatle fan's Dream come true, to peek into the inner most life experiences of a most important person. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robin | 12/19/2012

    " a fascinating guy -- and I learned a lot that I hadn't known before, which I didn't really expect. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Clint Priest | 11/10/2012

    " As much as anything, this gets a high rating from me because it's a biography of my all-time favorite musician. The story is well-told and flows perfectly. It's a long read though...nearly a thousand pages. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jon | 10/14/2012

    " Decent bio. As a prose stylist he's just okay and he goes a little too far sometimes in suggesting links between certain things in Lennon's life. Solid over all, though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barry Lowe | 5/28/2012

    " After I finished reading this it made me realise what a contradictive personality John Lennon had "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Steve | 2/26/2012

    " This was my third John Lennon Bio...and it was the best so far. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Scott | 4/20/2011

    " Excellent!!! This bio took me on a journey through Lennons's private life "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lily | 3/27/2011

    " Definitive Lennon biography -- but would have liked more about the Beatles and the complexity of John's creative relationshipw with Paul McCartney. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 SLIM SHADY | 2/23/2011

    " This book is very good so far. I just got to when John left his Aunt Mimi to live on his own while he was together with The Beatles. I would suggest it to those who are fans of John Lennon.. It's a very well written book. As my older brother put it. It's like the John Lennon Bible. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Zimmerman5678 | 2/16/2011

    " Good book if your interested in Lennon's life from a boy to his death. The book got a little slow in places. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marisa | 1/30/2011

    " Great book. Characters come alive. I learned so much about John Lennon. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Zach | 1/23/2011

    " This book goes into great detail about the life of one of the greatest musicians to ever live. It tells every detail of his life, from the earliest years to his final days. I would definitely recommend anybody to check this book out if they have any interest in music.
    "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Melissa | 12/31/2010

    " Over 100 pages and John isn't even 15. Very little said about him, just speculation about how he grew up and his family history. Boring. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robin | 12/28/2010

    " a fascinating guy -- and I learned a lot that I hadn't known before, which I didn't really expect. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brittney | 12/22/2010

    " Very interesting and a great bit of music history! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 William | 12/14/2010

    " Brilliant look into the life of a brilliant artist "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mom | 12/6/2010

    " Such a read for the first two/thirds of the book... but what a disappointment dealing with Lennon's first son Julian and divorce from Cyn. Would have been more interesting with songs and "words" together when noted with the book. This man had such promise, heroin aside. "

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About the Author
Author Philip Norman

Philip Norman is a novelist, biographer, journalist, and playwright. He is the author of the bestselling biography John Lennon: The Life and the history of The Beatles Shout!: The Beatles in Their Generation. Norman has also published biographies of Buddy Holly, the Rolling Stones, and Elton John, as well as six works of fiction and two plays, The Man That Got Away and Words of Love. He lives in London.

About the Narrator

Graeme Malcolm is an actor and Earphones Award–winning audio narrator. He has performed on Broadway as Pharaoh in Aida and as Sir Edward Ramsay in The King and I. His television appearances include Law & Order, Follow the River, and Mr. Halpern and Mr. Johnson (with Laurence Olivier). His film credits include A Further Gesture, The Adventures of Sebastian Cole, and Reunion.