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Tim Riley nimbly treads the thin line between pop biography and scholarly research. The book is scrupulously well documented and yet an entertaining narrative emerges, very readable.

Lennon’s early life is astounding with its odd twists and turns, punctuated by two bizarre and self-absorbed parents. The book is worth reading, just to digest the first 15 years of his life.

But the thing that I really respect about this book, is what Riley leaves out. We are never given the name of the misguided brute who assassinated Lennon in the New York hotel lobby. And this is at it should be. There should be no glorification: no limelight. Any kind of attention could only prompt other sick-minded individuals to look for their moment in the sun of infamy. Better to let the culprit remain unnamed, neglected.

My take: commendable A- (How many biographies really do read like a novel? This one does. The minus is for a few passages that ramble on with anecdotal facts and comments that end up being all sound and fury signifying nothing. )

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