Most of this stuff will be familiar to Beatles fans. There are the bed-in's and nude album covers with Yoko, the love/hate relationship with his fellow Beatles (especially Paul McCartney), and of course the rumors of sexual fantasies and dalliances with everyone from his mother Julia, to his manager Brian Epstein.
Norman treats all of these subjects with the objectivity of a seasoned journalist. Unlike so many others who have tried, Norman neither deifies or demonizes his famous subject, but rather tries to present a balanced picture showing all sides of the very complex personality of John Lennon.
What emerges is a dichotomy of the man himself. Norman pulls no punches when detailing Lennon's penchant at times for sarcasm, cruelty, and drunken, loutish behavior. At the same time, Lennon is also presented as a thoughtful man, who was equally capable of childlike innocence and wonder as he observed the dizzying events going on all around him.
To tell this story, Norman was also granted near unprecedented access to what is left of the Beatles original inner-circle. The author began this project with the blessing of Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono (who later withdrew it, claiming the author's narrative painted Lennon in a cruel light). In addition to Ono, Norman's research also includes extensive interviews with Paul McCartney, George Martin, and for the first time ever, Lennon's son Sean. The Sean Lennon interview makes for a particularly poignant chapter at the end of the book.
With John Lennon: The Life, Philip Norman has attempted to write nothing less than the final, definitive word on the life and times of one of the twentieth century's most iconic figures. As such, this book is an unqualified success in doing precisely that.