Lennon Legend: An Illustrated Life of John Lennon is probably the most attractive tribute to the singer yet produced. He may never have been the working-class hero that he liked to present himself as but his raw talent, anti-authoritarian tone and charismatic personality has made him (since his death) a nigh-legendary figure.
Is it a book? Is it a collection of memorabilia? Is it a CD? In fact, it's all three (and more) crammed into a highly tempting package that will be an essential purchase for most Beatles aficionados. James Henke has assembled a remarkable document, describing the life of the troubled young musician and socially committed rebel whose influence is still felt today. The coverage here is complete: from the early days of the Beatles' burgeoning success to the moment they virtually took over the world, and the acrimonious break-up of the group (right up to Lennon's assassination by a disaffected loner in New York).
But what makes this retelling of a familiar tale so unusual is the format--personal papers, song lyrics written in Lennon's own hand, sketches and much other material is reproduced unaltered, a great deal of which may be removed from pockets in the book to be examined individually.
More controversial aspects of the Beatles' legend is not examined in detail (such as the schism in the group created by Lennon's relationship with Yoko Ono--after all, her own archives provided much of the material here), but that's not the point of the book. This is no scalpel-sharp examination of a complex man, but a celebration of a highly individual talent. And as an object in itself, whether it's a book or not--Lennon Legend is irresistible. --Barry Forshaw