Hot Best Seller

U2: The Definitive Biography

Availability: Ready to download

John Jobling takes readers beyond the myth in this unauthorized biography to present the first comprehensive account of the illustrious Irish rockers in 25 years. Drawing on extensive interviews with insiders including record label scouts, studio presidents, politicians, music critics, and childhood friends, Jobling investigates the U2's most personal relationships and con John Jobling takes readers beyond the myth in this unauthorized biography to present the first comprehensive account of the illustrious Irish rockers in 25 years. Drawing on extensive interviews with insiders including record label scouts, studio presidents, politicians, music critics, and childhood friends, Jobling investigates the U2's most personal relationships and controversial business practices, delivering a vivid portrait that traces the rock phenomenon from its conception to post-punk champions to political crusaders. Filled with captivating revelations, reader will learn: - How Bono, the Edge, and Larry Mullen, Jr. worshiped with a Charismatic Christian church that practiced speaking in tongues during the band's early days - Insider stories of the genesis and recording of classic albums such as The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby - Creative tensions within the band and power struggles among management - How the disappointments of the Rattle and Hum film and PopMart Tour spurred the band to greater creative heights - Both the successes and controversies of Bono's wide-sweeping philanthropic and political ventures - The disconnect between the band's personal lives and public personas Sure to inspire debate with every music lover, U2: The Definitive Biography humanizes the band and paints an honest picture of a band's rise to the top, plunging into the heart and underlying soul of this iconic rock and roll band.


Compare

John Jobling takes readers beyond the myth in this unauthorized biography to present the first comprehensive account of the illustrious Irish rockers in 25 years. Drawing on extensive interviews with insiders including record label scouts, studio presidents, politicians, music critics, and childhood friends, Jobling investigates the U2's most personal relationships and con John Jobling takes readers beyond the myth in this unauthorized biography to present the first comprehensive account of the illustrious Irish rockers in 25 years. Drawing on extensive interviews with insiders including record label scouts, studio presidents, politicians, music critics, and childhood friends, Jobling investigates the U2's most personal relationships and controversial business practices, delivering a vivid portrait that traces the rock phenomenon from its conception to post-punk champions to political crusaders. Filled with captivating revelations, reader will learn: - How Bono, the Edge, and Larry Mullen, Jr. worshiped with a Charismatic Christian church that practiced speaking in tongues during the band's early days - Insider stories of the genesis and recording of classic albums such as The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby - Creative tensions within the band and power struggles among management - How the disappointments of the Rattle and Hum film and PopMart Tour spurred the band to greater creative heights - Both the successes and controversies of Bono's wide-sweeping philanthropic and political ventures - The disconnect between the band's personal lives and public personas Sure to inspire debate with every music lover, U2: The Definitive Biography humanizes the band and paints an honest picture of a band's rise to the top, plunging into the heart and underlying soul of this iconic rock and roll band.

30 review for U2: The Definitive Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nikki Stafford

    In 1988, I read a biography of U2 by Eamonn Dunphy that I thought was pretty amazing. I was 15 and completely in love with the band, and this biography (which was authorized) allowed us into the childhood homes, introduced me to the Virgin Prunes and Gavin Friday, both for whom I now have boundless love, and carried us through to the Joshua Tree years. And then I didn't read another biography. Late last year when it was revealed the topless man Larry is embracing on the cover of the new album wa In 1988, I read a biography of U2 by Eamonn Dunphy that I thought was pretty amazing. I was 15 and completely in love with the band, and this biography (which was authorized) allowed us into the childhood homes, introduced me to the Virgin Prunes and Gavin Friday, both for whom I now have boundless love, and carried us through to the Joshua Tree years. And then I didn't read another biography. Late last year when it was revealed the topless man Larry is embracing on the cover of the new album was actually his 18-year-old son Elvis, I immediately thought, Holy crap, Larry has a kid? And he's 18?! (Turns out, he has THREE.) And that thought was followed by: I really need to find an updated biography of U2. And then, like magic, this book was released only days later. I bought it earlier this month, and immediately began reading it. And it begins with a dull, lifeless introduction that it was clear some editor at St. Martin's asked for, wherein the author lays out the book like he's opening some academic thesis, along the lines of In this book I will endeavour to do _____, and then will move into ______, and finish with _______, and will conclude that_______. If I hadn't actually bought the book, I might have stopped reading right there. But instead I kept going. The early years are mostly glossed over — read Neil McCormick's "I Was Bono's Doppelgänger" for a much better account of those years, and I still recommend Dunphy's book for the early years and discussion of Lipton Village. And I bristled when he misused the word "literally" more than once, as in, "they literally blew the roof off the place." No, no they didn't. Interestingly, even the interview subjects misuse the word, which made me start to suspect that perhaps these transcriptions weren't 100% accurate. And then it started to get better. For about a minute. I've never quite understood the Goodreads function of allowing readers to comment on a book as they're reading it, until now. My perceptions of this book changed, and it was one-star, three-stars, two-stars, and no-stars depending on where I was in the book. The best part of the book is where he has an extended explanation of LiveAid and BandAid, Bob Geldof's efforts to raise money for the starving children of Ethiopia. Jobling breaks down what actually happened with the aid relief, and how the NGOs took that money over there, which then allowed the government to use it to relocate people to deserted, infertile areas, essentially making the famine last a decade longer than it would have without any aid. According to the author, when told of this, Geldof and Bono reacted with little more than a shrug. And therein lies the overarching theme of the book: Bono is a dick, U2 is a corporation of greed, and they're all hypocrites. No matter what Bono does in his life, Jobling never commends him, never says, "Hey, when he did this one thing, that was a good thing." There's always an ulterior motive to Bono's actions, or him being an ass, or showing his hypocrisy. Because, unlike Dunphy, he's having to describe almost 40 years of the band, rather than the 12 or so that Dunphy covered, he had to gloss over a lot. And in the end, much of the book is rather boring, because if there's one place you can crucify Bono, it's in his humanitarian efforts and Jobling decides to stop talking about U2 for several dozen pages and just focus on the political side of Bono's humanitarian work. Bono is portrayed as a man in over his head, of being a condescending jerk to heads of state, of walking into boardrooms like he owns the place and espousing a bunch of nonsense that even he doesn't understand. I mean, I know the book is mistitled "U2: The Definitive Biography," but why would that force Jobling to actually make it about, you know, U2?! The band is shunted off to the side around the time of the Joshua Tree tour, and from that point on all it is is a document of their foibles and fuck-ups. Don't read this if you don't want to know that Bono is very unfaithful to his wife. Or that Larry is an incompetent drummer who, for the past couple of years, has been forming an exit plan and is about to leave the band RIGHT NOW (the band's new tour was announced shortly after the book came out). Or if you don't want to know that Larry and Bono apparently despise each other and spend their time in the nude backstage beating each other up on the shower floor while a naked Edge and Adam try to tear them apart in some weird homoerotic "you have got to be kidding me" scene that seemed to have come out of thin air. Oh wait, no it didn't, it came from John Jobling's key source, the woman who provides most of the gossip (for yes, that's all this book turns into at the halfway point): Lola Cashman. Now, I didn't know who she was, and in a turn of irresponsible journalism, Jobling doesn't actually reveal who she is until the end of the book, but if you haven't read it, let me tell you now: she was their stylist for the Joshua Tree tour. That much is clear. What he doesn't tell you is that she was embroiled in an angry defamation lawsuit in 2005 with the band and ended up destitute and unemployable as a result. Yeah. SHE is a worthy, reliable source of intel with absolutely no bones to pick. So this woman — let me remind you, she is the STYLIST of the band — is somehow present at every juncture of the Joshua Tree tour, happens to be IN the showers with the guys while they nakedly roll around on the floor (what the HELL was she doing there?), and was Bono's most trusted confidante. He told her absolutely everything, and she, being an upstanding, all-round good friend, went and wrote a tell-all bio about the band that smeared their reputations and made them very angry. And yet, she blamed the fact that no one would employ her afterwards on Bono defaming her and saying she stole items of clothing, rather than the real reason, which is NO ONE WILL HIRE SOMEONE WHO WILL SPILL ALL THEIR SECRETS. Now, if Jobling were actually a competent writer or in any way a real journalist, he would know that you should take sources like this with a grain of salt. Instead, he eagerly met with her several times, it would appear, and wrote down everything, saying to himself, Yes, I know she's an angry person hellbent on revenge against the band that she believes destroyed her, but I WILL PRINT ALL HER WORDS AS FACT. Just look at the back flap of the cover and read his bio to see just how inexperienced a guy this is. He lists as his credits three trade magazines you've never heard of. Here's the thing: I adored U2 in my youth, and then I loved them, and then I thought they were fine. I don't think their current music lives up to who they once were, but hey, in their mid-20s they wrote one of the greatest albums of all time, and are now the biggest touring band in the world, whether you like their albums or not. They put on an amazing live show, and sure, Bono makes huge missteps all the time in his humanitarian work, but at least he's attempting to use his celebrity for good. There's a lot to be critical of. I was pissed off when I saw them three nights in a row on the Elevation tour, only for Bono to say EXACTLY the same thing during his sermons like they were prepared speeches, and to listen to him yammer on about how we need to get our governments to drop the debt for other nations, after I'd just kicked out $200 per ticket, times three nights. I remember thinking, "Or hey, guys, what about this: you keep $100 of each ticket — which is still exorbitant — and you give the other $100 to a fund to drop the debt of developing nations." And then after telling every country to tax its citizens higher to afford to drop the debt, the band moved their money to an offshore account to avoid paying taxes. If that isn't the lousiest thing the band has done, I don't know what is. So of course U2 is not above reproach. But when Jobling attacks absolutely everything they do — including, no joke, what underwear they wear — the real problems begin to pale in comparison and the whole book looks like a smear campaign. I'm not giving this book two stars because I'm a massive U2 fan who thinks he did the band a disservice. I'm giving it two stars because I think most of the book is garbage, but it's saved from being a one-star review for the couple of times Jobling actually writes some credible material, which is rare, but it really is in there if you look hard enough. I'm giving it two stars because it dares to call itself Definitive when it is anything but. I'm giving it two stars because some of the writing is so abysmal it comes off as an illiterate blogger. I'm giving it two stars because it is the WORST index I've ever seen in a book. Come on, St. Martin's, I know your standards have dropped significantly in the past few years in your pop culture department — my husband is reading the Paul Anka bio right now and says the editing is so terrible it's almost unreadable — but in the digital age, a simple search through a pdf will create an index pretty quickly. Alison Stewart, for example, gets about 6 entries in the index even though she's mentioned about 30 times in the book. And other people who should be in the index aren't there at all. I've actually done index work for several books, and this is the shoddiest one I've ever seen. It's useless; you should have left it off and saved the paper. I'm giving it two stars because when he handed in the manuscript, he knew absolutely nothing about the new album, and his publisher didn't actually update it with a couple of paragraphs on the end, which would have been very easy to do right before going to the printer (we do it all the time at our press). Even now, I'm considering removing one of the stars, but I'll leave it. I can't remember the last time I was so disappointed in a book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paul Gleason

    Don't bother. There's a way in which to write a biography from an objective standpoint. Jobling compromises his "objectivity" by developing a negative tone, which gets worse as the book goes on. Believe me - I know that U2 have their flaws. We all do. But Jobling doesn't seem to recognize this. He makes the mistake of positioning himself ABOVE his subject. It's not his job to EVALUATE everything U2 does. And his intimations are downright mean-spirited. Why does he have to take Bono's words out o Don't bother. There's a way in which to write a biography from an objective standpoint. Jobling compromises his "objectivity" by developing a negative tone, which gets worse as the book goes on. Believe me - I know that U2 have their flaws. We all do. But Jobling doesn't seem to recognize this. He makes the mistake of positioning himself ABOVE his subject. It's not his job to EVALUATE everything U2 does. And his intimations are downright mean-spirited. Why does he have to take Bono's words out of context - repeatedly - and intimate that he's cheated on his wife, done heroin, etc.? And how many cheap shots can he take at Larry, referring to his height and repeating constantly that he's a bad drummer? This is all weak-minded opinion and has nothing to do with telling the story of the band. The book is so bad it actually makes for some unintentionally hilarious reading. You can tell that Jobling has never been in a band. He actually criticizes U2 for not being "perfect" as players when they first started playing together! This guy just doesn't seem to understand the ethos of DIY and post-punk. Jobling also has the sad habit of quoting other, more credible sources on U2 and then manipulating (read: sensationalizing) the material to prove a point that the original source has nothing to do with. And - get this - he also seems to know what the members of U2 think about everything. He had a god-like access to their brains and souls. I'm glad that he somehow knows that Bono at one point was so insecure about his height that when he had to sing next to Springsteen, he wore a cowboy hat. I'm so glad that he knows that Edge found it so hard to leave Shalom because the prayer meetings gave him so much solace. But perhaps the biggest failure of Jobling's approach is that he doesn't discuss U2 as artists. Nowhere does he discuss Larry's and Adam's unique styles except to say that they don't know what they're doing. Couldn't they just be original artists? Creative? Bono also doesn't get his due. Why does he write his lyrics and sing the way he does? For that matter, why does he give scant attention to Edge and his massive innovations on guitar? Doesn't it interest him that the man - as Pete Townshend said of John Entwistle - "changed the 'f'in' instrument"? Yikes!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alina

    Thanks to warnings from some reviewers here and on Amazon, I didn't buy this book. But out of curiosity, I checked it out of the library. It's a hatchet job, but a sneaky one, since the author isn't negative about everything and does include some actual facts about the band. I can understand how some people, esp. those without much prior knowledge of U2, might mistake this for an unbiased biography. But an unbiased biographer wouldn't print quotes containing demonstrably false statements without Thanks to warnings from some reviewers here and on Amazon, I didn't buy this book. But out of curiosity, I checked it out of the library. It's a hatchet job, but a sneaky one, since the author isn't negative about everything and does include some actual facts about the band. I can understand how some people, esp. those without much prior knowledge of U2, might mistake this for an unbiased biography. But an unbiased biographer wouldn't print quotes containing demonstrably false statements without saying something about it, and certainly wouldn't make false statements himself. An honest writer wouldn't pepper the text with weasel words and innuendo intended to create a negative impression, or talk about the band as if he's God and knows their innermost thoughts. Let me give you a few examples, out of the many I noticed, to illustrate what I mean. The most flamboyantly unreliable material comes from a woman who worked for U2 as a stylist during the Joshua Tree tour. The author devotes many pages to her stories about the band, which are weird, embarrassing, and highly implausible. For example, she claims that, on one occasion, Bono was so anxious to appear taller that she lent him her red high-heeled shoes, which he hid under long pants. To buy this, you'd have to believe that: a) Bono just happened to have her same shoe size, and b) long pants would have prevented anyone from noticing he was wearing women's shoes -- red ones, mind you. She also claims the reason she had conflicts with other U2 staffers is because they were jealous of her closeness with Bono. Yeah, I get the picture. I've known people like this. I looked her up and discovered she was ordered by a judge to return U2 memorabilia that she stole from the band when she worked for them, because besides making money off them by writing a scurrilous book, she also tried to sell their stuff at auction. The author doesn't mention any of this until near the end of his book, when he spends many pages on what anyone with even the most minimal critical reading skills can tell is a very biased version of events. He makes this woman out to be an innocent victim of big mean U2, who lost everything due to legal costs. Never mind that she was the one who brought the suit and that not one but two courts of law found her to be a liar. Later on, when speaking about the band's conflicts during the making of Achtung Baby, the author says this: "Consistent with their cult-like mentality, all animosity within the group relating to money matters was kept in house for the good of the brand image." But in Bill Flanagan's book, U2: At the End of the World, which is about Zoo TV and Achtung Baby, U2's financial arrangements are discussed at length. The five-way even split between the four band members and their manager. Who gains the most, and who loses the most, through this even split vs. a traditional allocation of royalties. How the band considered changing things and decided against it. Since Flanagan's book is one of the most widely read U2 books, this does not constitute cult-like secrecy. Speaking of Flanagan, later on the author quotes "a source" who says, "He was ostracized by them [U2] afterward. Flanagan really damaged himself with that book, by writing the truth. So that's the kind of people you're dealing with." Gee, those are strong words. I've never heard any hint of a falling out between Flanagan and the band, but I did a little googling to double check. The first thing that came up was that Flanagan interviewed Bono for his radio show in 2017. But that's after this book came out in 2014, so I looked for information that would have been available to the author when he was preparing the book. I found a 2011 interview with Flanagan where he talked about hanging with Bono and writing a book for the 20th anniversary box set of Achtung Baby. I also found a 2005 interview where he described how Bono plugged his novel by carrying the book in the video for Beautiful Day. Yep, terribly ostracized, poor man. The last part of the book paints a very negative picture of Bono's work to fight AIDS and extreme poverty. The author kicks this off by saying, "Fame and fortune in the music business were not enough for the enormously ambitious Bono. He longed for power on a major scale and harbored political aspirations." How does the author know that Bono longs for power as opposed to longing to do some good in the world? Is he telepathic? I don't think it's beyond bounds for a biographer to speculate about his subject's motivations, but only if he describes the evidence and reasoning on which he bases his opinion. For a writer to ascribe bad motives to someone he doesn't even know, based on nothing, isn't just the sign of a completely unserious biographer, it's the sign of a total douche. So who exactly is this author, anyway? According to the bragging rights blurb on the jacket of my library book, he is "the former music editor of the UK lifestyle website Mansized, and has also contributed to DotMusic, Total Film, and PlayStation Sports." Wow, how impressive. No wonder the book is so good. Nothing in this book can be believed unless it has also appeared in credible sources. So if you're actually interested in learning about the band, don't waste your time or money.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amy Johnson

    This book bills itself as "The Definitive Biography" but a better subtitle would be "I Really Hate U2, and Especially Bono." Jobling is the most unbiased "biographer" I've ever read. He makes statements that he backs up with no facts or sources, relies heavily on "insider intel" from a disgruntled ex-employee of the band who was engaged in a lawsuit with them, and gives oddly specific accounts of events and interpersonal band relations that he can in no way verify happened (likely because he mad This book bills itself as "The Definitive Biography" but a better subtitle would be "I Really Hate U2, and Especially Bono." Jobling is the most unbiased "biographer" I've ever read. He makes statements that he backs up with no facts or sources, relies heavily on "insider intel" from a disgruntled ex-employee of the band who was engaged in a lawsuit with them, and gives oddly specific accounts of events and interpersonal band relations that he can in no way verify happened (likely because he made them up or based them on gossip.) The first part of the book is the most unbiased and simple - recounting how the band started and their early struggles. But around the time they become successful during the "War" tour is when Jobling begins his work of tearing them apart. The latter part of the book focuses especially on Bono and passive aggressively (but mostly the latter) infers that the entire basis for Bono's humanitarianism is his need to be a megalomaniac rock star (which, honestly - couldn't he just do that WITHOUT also trying to save the world?!). I'm a proud lifelong U2 fan and was excited to read this but by the end I just thought Jobling was a bitter weasel! Yes U2 are phenomenally successful and yes, they are a corporation that earns millions of dollars and supports hundreds (if not thousands) of people, and yes, it is well known that they are a tightly run and very secretive organization. But without any actual investigative reporting, interviews with people in the know, or basic fact checking - this is just a long slog through how U2 are the Worst According to John Jobling. Giving it one star because the cover is great.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This is a well-written, well-researched book about one of my favorite bands. The beginning was a bit difficult, as it was tough to know which people to keep track of, and it was perhaps overly detailed. The last few chapters barely seemed to touch on U2's music at all, focusing instead on Bono's humanitarian efforts. Additionally, it was sad to learn about how money- and power-hungry U2 seem to be, particularly Bono. However, I loved the chapters in the middle, from the recording of "The Unforget This is a well-written, well-researched book about one of my favorite bands. The beginning was a bit difficult, as it was tough to know which people to keep track of, and it was perhaps overly detailed. The last few chapters barely seemed to touch on U2's music at all, focusing instead on Bono's humanitarian efforts. Additionally, it was sad to learn about how money- and power-hungry U2 seem to be, particularly Bono. However, I loved the chapters in the middle, from the recording of "The Unforgettable Fire" to "All That You Can't Leave Behind". Although I generally knew the story, it was exciting to read all the details about them rising to their peak (due in large part to a fortuitous partnership with Brian Eno) with "The Joshua Tree" and "Achtung Baby", getting carried away with fame, losing the respect of critics, and eventually gaining it back. As disheartening as it was to learn about the flaws of the members of a band you love, it was satisfying that Jobling wrote this more as an honest depiction of a rock band who, in spite of their talents, make many questionable decisions outside the realm of music, rather than an empty, biased tribute by a die-hard fan.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Let's just start with the confession that I'm a huge, and lifelong U2 fan, so while I can understand that there are folks who don't enjoy them as much as I am, I have a hard time with the demonization that Jobling heaps on them for 350 pages. They are a business, a big one; and I certainly can't criticize them for being a tight circle that isn't easy to let others in. They are also a brand, a big one; and I also can't criticize them for protecting the brand name, and trying to further it's cause Let's just start with the confession that I'm a huge, and lifelong U2 fan, so while I can understand that there are folks who don't enjoy them as much as I am, I have a hard time with the demonization that Jobling heaps on them for 350 pages. They are a business, a big one; and I certainly can't criticize them for being a tight circle that isn't easy to let others in. They are also a brand, a big one; and I also can't criticize them for protecting the brand name, and trying to further it's cause. So they're capitalists, whatever. It's pretty clear that Jobling has it out for Bono in particular. While I can accept that maybe his profile has been damaging to certain causes, or that he's been a bit hypocritical in his stance on African debt while at the same time trying to make money for his band, he's light years ahead of some other celebrities who use their clout and riches to buy professional sports teams and don't seem to have a clue about how the other half lives. I can't criticize Bono in any way for trying to use his personal celebrity to shed light on global issues that he believes aren't paid enough attention to. I've read plenty (PLENTY) of U2 biographies; this is not the best (see: U2 at the End of the World), but it fills a niche. I've never read a biography that is so critical, or one that addresses U2 the business and the brand rather than U2 the music and the musicians that make the music. To that end, this was an interesting book, and I'm glad to have read it. But at the end of the book, what really left me wanting was there is so little discussion of the music. Jobling refers to Jim DeRogatis and Greg Cot a number of times, but very rarely addressing the quality (or not) of the songs and albums. They've made some stinkers, but you have to give U2 credit for continuing to sell; if it was all bad, or never made a connection with listeners they wouldn't. That has to count for something.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I had high hopes for this book, and ended up being extremely disappointed! The book starts off great when the author talks about the band's beginnings and their early history. As the book goes on however, his bias is increasingly more and more apparent and it seems clear that he has a distaste for the band, particularly Bono. The book became pretty unreadable as it got towards the end as the author rambled on about how U2 didn't have a grip, how Bono was too wrapped up in getting involved in pol I had high hopes for this book, and ended up being extremely disappointed! The book starts off great when the author talks about the band's beginnings and their early history. As the book goes on however, his bias is increasingly more and more apparent and it seems clear that he has a distaste for the band, particularly Bono. The book became pretty unreadable as it got towards the end as the author rambled on about how U2 didn't have a grip, how Bono was too wrapped up in getting involved in politics, and how their latest music (at the time, their 2009 album No Line On The Horizon) was basically a commercial regurgitation of earlier albums (which I completely disagree with). For being a so-called "Definitive" biography, I expected so much more, and not a ton of nasty jabs at Bono and rumors about the band from unnamed "close sources".

  8. 5 out of 5

    Peter O'Connor

    I had long thought Bono to be a dick. Imagine my surprise then to find that he was an even bigger dick than I had ever imagined. This warts and all tale of the rise and rise of U2 makes for a great read as a fast paced rock and roll fable whether you are into the band or not. Those that are into the whole rock messiah thing may not like much about this book but there are certainly enough hard facts in here to suggest that U2 are maybe not quite the knights in shining armour that many might think I had long thought Bono to be a dick. Imagine my surprise then to find that he was an even bigger dick than I had ever imagined. This warts and all tale of the rise and rise of U2 makes for a great read as a fast paced rock and roll fable whether you are into the band or not. Those that are into the whole rock messiah thing may not like much about this book but there are certainly enough hard facts in here to suggest that U2 are maybe not quite the knights in shining armour that many might think. The transition from band with a social conscience to power-mad, money-grubbing corporate behemoth (everything they were supposedly against) makes for a pretty damn interesting read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Williams

    I started out very interested in the book but it quickly became apparent that the writing was poor, the author interjected too many of his own opinions on a variety of issues (The Catholic Church is the largest cult around? That's a paraphrase and btw I'm not Catholic.), and that he had an agenda of casting the band member in the poorest light possible. I lost count of how many times he pointed out how small and pathetic Larry was and how he believes Bono just makes things up. I actually could h I started out very interested in the book but it quickly became apparent that the writing was poor, the author interjected too many of his own opinions on a variety of issues (The Catholic Church is the largest cult around? That's a paraphrase and btw I'm not Catholic.), and that he had an agenda of casting the band member in the poorest light possible. I lost count of how many times he pointed out how small and pathetic Larry was and how he believes Bono just makes things up. I actually could have forgiven a lot of the mud slinging if the writing had been stellar. It wasn't even close.

  10. 4 out of 5

    JAnn Bowers

    I found this unauthorised biography of the members of the band to be an excellent read. I am a huge fan of U2 and reading their untold stories and activist movements, especially of Bono was really interesting. I haven't followed the band for a few years now, so it was like catching up on the latest news. I found this unauthorised biography of the members of the band to be an excellent read. I am a huge fan of U2 and reading their untold stories and activist movements, especially of Bono was really interesting. I haven't followed the band for a few years now, so it was like catching up on the latest news.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I'm a biased U2 fan but honestly, this book was a hatchet job aimed at showing U2 and their music and lives in the worst light possible. Lots of unnamed "sources" spouting conjecture with very little fact to back it up. I'm a biased U2 fan but honestly, this book was a hatchet job aimed at showing U2 and their music and lives in the worst light possible. Lots of unnamed "sources" spouting conjecture with very little fact to back it up.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Richard Epstein

    I haven't read this. Maybe I will. Let me check. Pigs flying? Hell frozen over? Cubs in the World Series? I guess not then. I haven't read this. Maybe I will. Let me check. Pigs flying? Hell frozen over? Cubs in the World Series? I guess not then.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Devyn Duffy

    First, disclosure: when I was a kid, my brother used to play U2 albums all the time, especially The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree, and Rattle and Hum, all of which I loved, but I've hardly listened to any U2 from the last 15 years. I went to a U2 concert in 2011 but the band started more than two hours late and I left after three songs. I do have a ticket to see them on this year's Joshua Tree anniversary tour. As for the book, external reviews indicate that it is a one-sided hatchet job an First, disclosure: when I was a kid, my brother used to play U2 albums all the time, especially The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree, and Rattle and Hum, all of which I loved, but I've hardly listened to any U2 from the last 15 years. I went to a U2 concert in 2011 but the band started more than two hours late and I left after three songs. I do have a ticket to see them on this year's Joshua Tree anniversary tour. As for the book, external reviews indicate that it is a one-sided hatchet job and draws almost entirely from existing source materials. I do know that the book contains no footnotes or endnotes regarding the source material, so it's hard to know how much original research Jobling put into this book or how accurate it is. But the writing makes pretty clear that Jobling is ambivalent about the band musically and dislikes the members personally. Still, I give the book four stars for the effect that it had on me beyond what the writer intended. For some fans of a certain age, the '90s U2 seemed like a sellout and a betrayal of the ideals of the band that U2 appeared to be in the '80s. For someone like me who hasn't followed U2 much lately, Jobling's book clarifies that the '80s U2 image was just as artificial as the '90s U2 image, or even more so. While it's a little sad to learn that U2 never really was the band that I thought it once was, it's also consoling because it means that rather than the band turning its back on the things that made it good, U2 was just making things up as it went along from album to album and tour to tour, and what the band came up with in the '80s just happened to be something that resonated with many listeners. Jobling's book revealed to me (even if unintentionally) that U2 is a band that succeeded through relentless effort and determination, as well as the necessary luck. The band made it big much sooner than it should have given its inexperience at the time, but U2's members pushed for every opportunity and were able to take advantage of them. And of course to succeed so much in such a short time takes not just work and luck, but also talent. Any listener already knew that, but Jobling's stories of how the early albums were made show that U2 didn't enter any of those recording sessions with a fully realized purpose; instead, they made it up as they went along and then crafted each album around whatever sonic and lyrical direction they happened to find. Knowing this makes U2's success even more impressive. Beyond the music, the book also discusses numerous personal issues that the band members have faced over the years (while glossing over others). Again, it's not clear to me what stories in the book are true and how much so. But by demonizing the band, Jobling instead humanizes it. U2 may have looked like sellouts who hypocritically call to end poverty while raising ticket prices and dodging taxes, but after this book, they come across as regular rock stars (if there is such a thing) whose '80s image of social consciousness appeals to them enough personally to want to throw it a bone every now and then. So maybe U2 are U2 fans, too. The unintended message of Jobling's book--indeed, quite the opposite of what he intends--is to quit worrying about money and politics and just focus on whether or not you like U2's music. That's the way most music fans would approach most bands, and by that standard, U2 comes off as well as anyone else in music.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    John Jobling's "definitive" biography of U2 - arguably the World's Biggest Band - chronicles the Irish foursome's rise to pop music dominance in a manner that is revealing, critical, yet remains unbiased. Much of the information contained within will be familiar to devoted fans of U2, given that the author relies entirely on existing interviews, reviews and articles to gain access to the band's point of view. Jobling did, however, extensively interview many former members of the U2 inner circle John Jobling's "definitive" biography of U2 - arguably the World's Biggest Band - chronicles the Irish foursome's rise to pop music dominance in a manner that is revealing, critical, yet remains unbiased. Much of the information contained within will be familiar to devoted fans of U2, given that the author relies entirely on existing interviews, reviews and articles to gain access to the band's point of view. Jobling did, however, extensively interview many former members of the U2 inner circle in an attempt to sneak a peek inside the tightly controlled U2 machine. Unfortunately, the accusations and anecdotes he culls from former production personnel, business associates, and peers are not addressed directly by the band, leaving the readers to judge for themselves the validity of the information. While perhaps not as much of an expose as one might expect, the real value of Jobling's work lies in the wealth of detail surrounding U2's early days and the recording of their albums. Much of the information may have been previously printed in numerous magazines and newspapers, but to have it all succinctly summarized in a single, well-written volume should be a nice treat for U2 fans.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brad Abraham

    Half liked, half hated. The first half dealing with U2's rise is quite compelling, even though it's a story I was familiar with, having read Eamon Dunphy's U2 bio back in the 1980s. Things take a turn once it enters the later post-2000 era where it becomes more of a hatchet job. Clearly the author thinks the band should have split up after 1997's Pop album and has literally zero positive things to say about the band's output since then. He also has a particular axe to grind with Bono's political Half liked, half hated. The first half dealing with U2's rise is quite compelling, even though it's a story I was familiar with, having read Eamon Dunphy's U2 bio back in the 1980s. Things take a turn once it enters the later post-2000 era where it becomes more of a hatchet job. Clearly the author thinks the band should have split up after 1997's Pop album and has literally zero positive things to say about the band's output since then. He also has a particular axe to grind with Bono's political activism. Who doesn't, right? But in a "definitive" biography no matter the author's feeling on the subject you expect them to be a little balanced towards their subject matter. otherwise what's the point? It was a brisk read though, I'll give it that.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Clark

    I would have rated this book higher if the author would have stayed true to his formula of relating the musical & social relevance and progression of the band through each successive album. However, by the last few chapters I sinced the author trying to make a name for himself by attacking the bands tax status and handling of thier own money. U2 has probably done more and given more to create social awareness around so many issues that I am saddened by this author's attempt to undermine their ef I would have rated this book higher if the author would have stayed true to his formula of relating the musical & social relevance and progression of the band through each successive album. However, by the last few chapters I sinced the author trying to make a name for himself by attacking the bands tax status and handling of thier own money. U2 has probably done more and given more to create social awareness around so many issues that I am saddened by this author's attempt to undermine their efforts because he doesn't personally agree with how U2 earn, spend and handle thier own money. Overall though, I am glad that I read this book, now I will go and listen to U2.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    I picked this book up casually, but I got more annoyed by it the more I read, and ended up putting it down because essentially I don't care about what seems to be Jobling's biggest complaint, that these guys got rich, after borrowing money from their parents a lot during their first few years trying to be a band, and it changed them despite their insisting when they were young that it never would. Um, duh? How many of us who are their age meant to remain ideologically pure and didn't? I imagine I picked this book up casually, but I got more annoyed by it the more I read, and ended up putting it down because essentially I don't care about what seems to be Jobling's biggest complaint, that these guys got rich, after borrowing money from their parents a lot during their first few years trying to be a band, and it changed them despite their insisting when they were young that it never would. Um, duh? How many of us who are their age meant to remain ideologically pure and didn't? I imagine the fact that this guy is writing a bestselling unauthorized biography isn't what he thought he'd be doing when he was 18 either. I don't necessarily expect people that I admire for their musical or artistic or athletic talent to also be people that I would personally want to be best friends with, or to always behave admirably, and mostly I don't want to know as long as they are not promoting something I find personally abhorrent like white supremacism or homophobia that I don't want to finance. Say what you want about Bono, he's been with the same woman since about 1976 and they've managed to raise four apparently mostly sane children. He could probably have gone off on his own like Sting or Paul McCartney but he's still playing with the same guys after 40 years and to all appearances they enjoy themselves. He also puts a lot of money into causes he finds important, and he will work with just about anyone he thinks can help, which is a pragmatic approach and one valid way to go about it. Skimming ahead I also got the feeling that Jobling liked the mid-90s albums like Pop and Zooropa because the band continued to "grow" and "experiment" and that when they began moving back to a style more like their earlier work he thought they became sellouts. There are many who disagree with that, I didn't care as much for those recordings and much prefer the slightly stripped-down sound they began with. He wants them to continually change musically but remain the same personally, I think. The very last line of the book is something like "we will probably have them around for another ten years but U2 is over." ?? I don't think so. Reading some of the reviews on Amazon I found that this book was hardly universally liked. If you like U2's music and want to find out just a little more about them but don't want to get mixed up in any controversy, use the internet. The only thing I got out of this (which I probably should have already known) that was useful in understanding their politics was that (except I think for Larry) they're protestants who grew up in Dublin in the 60s and 70s when things were so ugly in the north.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Henk-Jan van der Klis

    Spanning the early 70's until 2014, British music journalist John Jobling takes his readers along U2's career for U2: The Definitive Biography. He could use first-hand interviews with record label scouts, politicians, music critics, and childhood friends. The result is unauthorized, which doesn't surprise me. The band members are portrayed in all their fallibility as humans. Several episodes were new and busted myths. My personal love for U2's music started in the early 80's leading up to Joshua Spanning the early 70's until 2014, British music journalist John Jobling takes his readers along U2's career for U2: The Definitive Biography. He could use first-hand interviews with record label scouts, politicians, music critics, and childhood friends. The result is unauthorized, which doesn't surprise me. The band members are portrayed in all their fallibility as humans. Several episodes were new and busted myths. My personal love for U2's music started in the early 80's leading up to Joshua Tree, minimized during the Zooropa and Pop 90's, and regained momentum with All You Can't Leave Behind, How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. During the last decade, U2 kept us all waiting for new albums like No Line on the Horizons, Songs of Ascent, and Songs of Experience. Yes, I was happy that Bono, Edge, and Larry were three evangelical boys not ashamed of the gospel in the 80's. I knew of some of Adam's escapades. In this 'definitive' (U2 is still around!) biography all these puzzle pieces fall into place. Jobling explains a lot on the band origins, inspiration and genesis of U2 songs and the recording process, the business adventures of all band members, and Bono's activism for the One Campaign, DATA, RED, etc. The author also reveals the commercial flops, the power struggles within the band and its management. He follows the money, is open about the tax evasion via the Netherlands, and the successes and failures of side projects, whether it's a next partner, home, hotel, movie, or musical production. Ticket price inflation, the ups and downs at Island Records, the deals with LiveNation and Ticketmaster, and the disadvantages of being a public person are included. Your overall impression or conclusion after reading may be finetuned, if not completely turned upside down, thanks to this exhaustive in-depth dig into the lives of the Irish rock and roll band U2.

  19. 4 out of 5

    RetroHound

    What a hit job. Author Jobling never passes an opportunity to slag Bono or quote someone who has something bad to say about U2. He starts off OK with only a few hints of his intense dislike of the band, but by the time of The Joshua Tree he really unleashes. For a while he only quotes disgruntled former employees. In his rush to discredit U2, he glosses over items of interest, such as, he quotes The Edge a few times saying how he would rather be with his family, but then suddenly he is getting d What a hit job. Author Jobling never passes an opportunity to slag Bono or quote someone who has something bad to say about U2. He starts off OK with only a few hints of his intense dislike of the band, but by the time of The Joshua Tree he really unleashes. For a while he only quotes disgruntled former employees. In his rush to discredit U2, he glosses over items of interest, such as, he quotes The Edge a few times saying how he would rather be with his family, but then suddenly he is getting divorced. What happened? How did a man so concerned with family lose his? There are valid questions to ask, most people are complicated and inconsistent, and it is good to know about some moral failings such as when after pestering countries to give significant amounts of their GDP to Africa, they moved the publishing company to The Netherlands to avoid paying high taxes in Ireland. Jobling basically ignores Bono's and Edge's and Larry's religion except to occasionally mock it. As if the only thing that motivates Bono in his activism is to be in the spotlight. While he certainly doesn't fit the mold of a US fundamentalist, his Christian faith molds his thinking and motivates his charity. U2 is my favorite band, I have all of the albums, but none of the extras or special editions. And I don't follow celebrity private lives much, so I learned some things reading this, but had to slog through a lot of mud to get there.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    A fascinating look at one of the world's greatest bands. It gives an objective view of the band, praising them for their artistry and sometimes condemning them for their preachiness and hypocrisy. I learned that Larry Mullen Jr. was not a good drummer at first, and was constantly picked on by the band (which may explain why the author says Mullen is always wanting to quit the band). The book balances the music along with the political activism of Bono, with some interesting looks into each membe A fascinating look at one of the world's greatest bands. It gives an objective view of the band, praising them for their artistry and sometimes condemning them for their preachiness and hypocrisy. I learned that Larry Mullen Jr. was not a good drummer at first, and was constantly picked on by the band (which may explain why the author says Mullen is always wanting to quit the band). The book balances the music along with the political activism of Bono, with some interesting looks into each member's personal life. U2 by U2 is too subjective; if you want the real story, warts and all, this is it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    Lots of unattributed (made up?) quotes, saying what people were thinking when you haven't interviewed them.... The thing with the teacher was downright weird. Sure, there are more warts than in their own book, but which of the warts are real & which made up? I read an account of the Tokyo incident by the other man who was there & it's rather different (Jobling pretty much implies Bono took heroin that night.... Fitzgerald's account of it, while wild, says he didn't). And he says that Bill Flanag Lots of unattributed (made up?) quotes, saying what people were thinking when you haven't interviewed them.... The thing with the teacher was downright weird. Sure, there are more warts than in their own book, but which of the warts are real & which made up? I read an account of the Tokyo incident by the other man who was there & it's rather different (Jobling pretty much implies Bono took heroin that night.... Fitzgerald's account of it, while wild, says he didn't). And he says that Bill Flanagan - whose book has the account of the incident he embellished - was ostracized by U2, which clearly isn't the case. So, meh.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rstocking

    I fairly decent into to U2, but far too many biases by the author, especially towards the end of the book, led me to believe he was trying to stir the pot in order to increase sales. Didn't hate it, just feel like I need to read a more authoritative book on this group. I fairly decent into to U2, but far too many biases by the author, especially towards the end of the book, led me to believe he was trying to stir the pot in order to increase sales. Didn't hate it, just feel like I need to read a more authoritative book on this group.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nick DiVittorio

    Great book about the greatest band ever

  24. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Ried

    John Jobling seems to set out to discredit U2 instead of providing a definitive biography.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I dunno. This book could have focused more on the music and less on being a negative nelly.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schwensen

    This is a career-spanning book on U2 and with more than four decades of worldwide success, it could not have been an easy task. The author did a great job researching and writing and for that reason the word “definitive” belongs in the title. He covers the band from the beginning (and ongoing) partnership, music, and dedication to success, while also exploring an undertone of greed, control and power. * Unfortunately, the story of U2 is not as compelling as the rags to riches sagas of Elvis, The B This is a career-spanning book on U2 and with more than four decades of worldwide success, it could not have been an easy task. The author did a great job researching and writing and for that reason the word “definitive” belongs in the title. He covers the band from the beginning (and ongoing) partnership, music, and dedication to success, while also exploring an undertone of greed, control and power. * Unfortunately, the story of U2 is not as compelling as the rags to riches sagas of Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and others. This is not the fault of the writer and he does not embellish any of the facts while giving readers insight into how the pieces of this rock and roll puzzle came together and continues to run. Of the foursome, I found Adam Clayton to be the most interesting. When it comes to celebrity bios, the best “page-turners” take us on journeys mixed with the highs and lows of success, failure, scandal and other events that keep readers interested in what happens next. Clayton more than fits that requirement. * Usually standing apart for various reasons (including the other members of U2 speaking in tongues and questioning their music for religious reasons), Clayton lived a rock star life that included success, defiance, overindulgence, “crash and burn” – and then bounced back for more. But much of his story seems to be skimmed over. For instance, he dates supermodel Naomi Campbell, but 18 months later he’s marrying someone else. The same can be said for U2 members Edge and Larry Mullen, Jr. Career and personal highs and lows are mentioned, but neither seems to have the charisma of Clayton. They just aren’t as interesting. * That leaves the “star” of U2, lead singer Bono. Already the subject of other books and countless news stories, he’s known for his vocal prowess, stage presence, political activism and fundraising efforts. His globe trotting efforts and meetings with world leaders is described in detail worthy of being featured articles in Time Magazine. This is an important part of the story, but relegates the other members to only being supporting players in a book about their band. In many instances it felt like I was reading about world events instead of U2. * I enjoyed the excitement of U2’s personal interaction, the music, and their rise to fame and world tours. It’s all in the book, but pulled into different directions by a focus on Bono’s story. As a fan, I’d also want to know what Adam Clayton was doing while Bono was out saving the world.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    The hubby is a HUGE fan of U2, so when my library added this book to the collection, I immediately requested it. I thought I'd read it and get caught up on U2 and we could have wonderful conversations together about the band. Also, they just released a new album and we'll probably go see them if they tour it, and I wanted background info on the songs. When the hubby and I went to see Guns'N'Roses, I read bios beforehand and that really helped me connect to the band and the music, knowing the bac The hubby is a HUGE fan of U2, so when my library added this book to the collection, I immediately requested it. I thought I'd read it and get caught up on U2 and we could have wonderful conversations together about the band. Also, they just released a new album and we'll probably go see them if they tour it, and I wanted background info on the songs. When the hubby and I went to see Guns'N'Roses, I read bios beforehand and that really helped me connect to the band and the music, knowing the background, even though I'm slightly too young to have followed them from their genesis. This book, however, fell flat of my expectations. The author obviously did a ton of research, but there's none of the juicy human interest that I was hoping for. It is mostly dry "U2 did this and then they did this and then they did this," etc. I probably should've expected that; the author says in the book summary that it's an unauthorized biography. No matter how much research he did, he was still limited only to knowledge that already existed. Mr. Jobling just pulled it all together into one book. I barely knew anything about U2 or Bono going into this book, so I did actually learn a few things. The times when I thought I learned something really obscure, and turned to tell the hubby, he always already knew. So a long-term or die-hard U2 fan probably wouldn't learn anything from this book. One of the things I learned in the book: right from the start, the members of U2 were fiercely protective of their personal privacy. There's been very little written on them because of that. So it's not really the author's fault that this book is lacking juicy details: there was no way to get them. Overall, I don't regret reading it. It was a little lengthy and dry for my taste, but it served it's purpose. Unfortunately, I had to knock a star or two off the rating because the author's distaste for the band came through a bit too clearly. I'm trying to think of a way to spin this so it's not an entirely negative review... but there just wasn't anything really sparkly and spectacular to it for me.

  28. 5 out of 5

    David Mauldin

    The author lured me with the hope of getting to know these people yet, other than detailing the contributions of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, he does not develop a theme beyond the business side of U2. He is precise when it comes to band's recording career, contracts and concert events but when it comes to the religious convictions of anyone in the band the author only provides jumbled smatterings of the band's involvement with the aberrant fundamentalist group, Shalom. From then on its all abo The author lured me with the hope of getting to know these people yet, other than detailing the contributions of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, he does not develop a theme beyond the business side of U2. He is precise when it comes to band's recording career, contracts and concert events but when it comes to the religious convictions of anyone in the band the author only provides jumbled smatterings of the band's involvement with the aberrant fundamentalist group, Shalom. From then on its all about "victims of the rock-and-roll machine and the architects of their own moral downfall." (last page of the book) Much of his material is taken from endless magazine interviews and tabloid hearsay. This is evident when he presents us with a trove of contradicting accounts of each band member's character. He ends the book with the conclusion that the band reached its peak in the 90s..."but we're doomed because they will be around for another ten years." The author seems oblivious that the band has released its best known works long since the end of the Popmart tour. Beautiful Day, Elevation, Vertigo have all outdone anything on the Pop CD. I would've taken the approach of the stunning longevity of the band, the successes it has had recreating itself to remain relevant. The questions posed by the author are in the bent, "What have you done for me lately?" At 54 Benjamin Franklin had many critics yet history shows us at that age he was just hitting his stride...I anxiously wait and expect the band to go above and beyond itself for the next 50 years!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    Full disclosure- I am a massive U2 fan. I have seen them dozens of times in concert over the last 20+ years. Having said that, and read the bibliography of this book, I can say I have read the vast majority of the author's source material books and magazines. Therefore I was surprised by the generally negative- dare I say nasty?- tone of this biography. This book read like someone who hates U2 set out to write a book about how awful they are as a band- and to especially rake Bono over the coals fo Full disclosure- I am a massive U2 fan. I have seen them dozens of times in concert over the last 20+ years. Having said that, and read the bibliography of this book, I can say I have read the vast majority of the author's source material books and magazines. Therefore I was surprised by the generally negative- dare I say nasty?- tone of this biography. This book read like someone who hates U2 set out to write a book about how awful they are as a band- and to especially rake Bono over the coals for every possible thing from his work with AIDS and poverty groups to his height and weight insecurity. I'm smart enough to realize that U2, as individuals and as a band, are flawed in some ways. But Jobling spends literally the entire book criticizing their albums, their skills as musicians, their (god forbid) interest in earning money for their work and their career long efforts to support causes like Live Aid. While I respect the author's thorough research and great use of sources, his inability to present a balanced portrait of one of the greatest bands in modern music is shockingly irresponsible.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Nothing new and an author's agenda that grows stronger through the course of the book based on the position that there is a moral conflict between success, particularly financial success, and social activisim. If you haven't followed the band or read any of the books and/or articles listed as sources by the author the first several chapters provide a good summary of the beginnings of the band and the backgrounds of Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry but none of the information is new or newly insightful Nothing new and an author's agenda that grows stronger through the course of the book based on the position that there is a moral conflict between success, particularly financial success, and social activisim. If you haven't followed the band or read any of the books and/or articles listed as sources by the author the first several chapters provide a good summary of the beginnings of the band and the backgrounds of Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry but none of the information is new or newly insightful and as the book moves on the focus becomes more and more on Bono's activisim and the author's position that it is in conflict with U2 business practices. All in all, not a bad book but certainly not definitive and probably not even necessary.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.