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Paul McCartney: The Life by Philip Norman

Paul McCartney: The Life

by Philip Norman

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Philip Norman's mea culpa to Paul is largely good, has some flaws, and will fill in some gaps. But be forewarned - it's not a Beatles book, and it's not "authorized" in that the author sat with the subject. So, as such, it's a different animal.

Norman gained acclaim/was criticized for 1981's "Shout!," which was a Beatles book and helped lionize John Lennon after the murder. It had damning things to say about Paul.

Norman then buffed John's story anew in 2008 with "John Lennon: The Life." So when he approached Paul about a book, it was a surprise when Macca said fine, but wasn't interested in hashing it all out again. Norman relied on interviews with old friends, staff, family, etc. As such, it's a hit-and-miss collection of memories, from the beginning until Paul's marriage to Nancy Shevell.

There is silence from Jane Asher, which leaves a gap, and a lot of details from "secret" girlfriend Maggie McGivern. She does a good job of inserting herself in a prime spot in McCartney's life.

Linda, of course, was gone so she couldn't talk, so there's another gap. And no Lennon, no insights. And though he had access to previous books, interviews and letters, very little from either Brian Epstein or George Martin.

That said, there were good moments in the book, and sad moments, such as the recounting of Linda's death, and the stupidity of the Japan pot bust/jail time.

Norman also couldn't help himself and did relate Heather Mills' most scandalous accusations in her divorce petition - all of which the judge in the case dismissed as false. So why include them in detail?

Maybe Paul's life is too long now and has had too many chapters to attempt to gather it all into one volume. (For a look at Paul in the '70s, get "Man On The Run.") Maybe this would have been better as a two-parter, or an ongoing series. But it wasn't, so it leaves me a little disappointed.

See more of my reviews at Ralphsbooks. ( )
  ralphz | Jul 28, 2017 |
Having seen the Beatles twice in concert back in the 60s and being a rabid fan at that time, I was interested in reading this voluminous biography of Paul McCartney. The first part of the book covering Paul's childhood and the creation of the Beatles through their breakup was somewhat tedious since I've read several biographies of the Beatles and much of the same ground was covered. Most interesting was the period after the breakup - Wings, his solo work and philanthropy, Paul's courting of his wives and their personal relationships, and the oft-times bitter interactions between Paul and the other members of the group. If you're a Beatles fan, you should enjoy this book - otherwise, it might be a bit much to slog through. ( )
  flourgirl49 | Jan 10, 2017 |
I was 12 years old when the Beatles came to the US in 1964, a perfect age to become a Beatlemaniac. In reading teen magazines prior to their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, my favorite was George. But that changed the night of February 9, 1964, when glued to the TV set as were 73 million other people, I fell under Paul McCartney’s spell. For the rest of the 60’s, I read anything and everything written about him and the other Beatles. True Beatlemania had set in.

But over the years, I can’t say that I’ve read all that has been written and actually this is the first biography that I’ve read about Paul. So I can’t compare it to other biographies about him and I can’t really say whether there’s new information contained in it or not. A lot of it was old to me but a lot of it I didn’t know before reading this book. What drew me to this particular book was that I had read that the author, Philip Norman, was quite against Paul in his 1980’s book “Shout”, saying that “John Lennon was three quarters of the Beatles” but has since then changed his opinion of Paul and wanted to set the record straight.

In this book, the author had tacit approval from Paul, meaning that, while Paul wasn’t actually cooperating in the writing of the book, he wasn’t interfering either and that opened doors to Mr. Norman. At the end of the book, the author says that he uncovered a different McCartney than the world thought they knew, a man who was a perfectionist and a workaholic. But that’s the McCartney I’ve come to “know” over the years. How else could he have accomplished what he has? So I didn’t actually discover a “new” Paul but rather the book confirmed what I already thought about him.

This is a very comprehensive biography, starting off with the births and upbringings of his parents and ending in present day. The author is a very good storyteller and I found the book to be readable and entertaining. I gulped when I first saw the 849-page figure on my e-reader but there are many photos (many of which I’ve never seen) and the book just flew by. The author also does a fine job detailing the history behind many of Paul and John’s songs and the meaning of the lyrics, which I found to be very interesting. All in all, it seems to be an honest portrayal of my fav Beatle and I enjoyed reading it.

This book was given to me by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review. ( )
  hubblegal | May 18, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316327964, Hardcover)

The definitive Paul McCartney biography, written with his approval by bestselling biographer Philip Norman.

Since the age of twenty-one, Paul McCartney has lived one of the ultimate rock-n-roll lives played out on the most public of stages. Now, Paul's story is told by rock music's foremost biographer, with McCartney's consent and access to family members and close friends who have never spoken on the record before. PAUL McCARTNEY reveals the complex character behind the façade and sheds new light on his childhood--blighted by his mother's death but redeemed by the father who introduced him to music.

This is the first definitive account of Paul's often troubled partnership with John Lennon, his personal trauma after the Beatles' breakup, and his subsequent struggle to get back to the top with Wings--which nearly got him murdered in Africa and brought him nine days in a Tokyo jail. Readers will learn about his marriage to Linda, including their much-criticized musical collaboration, and a moving account of her death. Packed with new information and critical insights, PAUL MCCARTNEY will be the definitive biography of a musical legend.

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 19 Feb 2016 12:01:18 -0500)

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