REVIEW: Paul McCartney: The Life by Philip Norman

This is my second review for The Armchair Audies.

This biography of Paul McCartney starts like a lot of biographies of stars starts - with a forward detailing the author's relationship to a star and his or her work. And so I will start this review. Like most liberal arts students I went through a Sergeant Pepper phase in college, but when I think of Paul McCartney I think of my Dad's music more than mine. That may have clouded my ability to listen to 30 hours and 44 minutes of the details of Paul's life on audiobook.

I enjoyed the history of the Beatles, and a more R rated view of their time in Hamburg that Malcolm Gladwell made famous in Outliers. I also really liked learning the backgrounds behind their songs. Fans had a tendency to make all of the songs about drugs. In many cases they were right (Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds), but they were also wrong sometimes (Fixing a Hole was about DIY, not heroin.)

But then things start to drag. The breakup, tax troubles, Yoko troubles, and drug use seem to go on forever. Many parts are repetitive as well. We must have heard about the meatloaf Linda McCartney used to make before she became an animal rights activist five times. By the end I was repeatedly checking the counter to see how much more I had to go.

I did love the narrator for this audio book. The accent was perfect. It sounded like someone who could have grown up in Liverpool with Paul.

I'd recommend this book if you're a super fan, but otherwise skip it.

Review: Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

I got a lot more laundry done than usual this weekend because I was listening to the audiobook version of Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson. This book about the least famous Kennedy child was heartbreaking, but also inspiring. Her birth was rough, and Rosemary suffered from intellectual disabilities. After a failed lobotomy in her early 20's Rosemary spent her life hidden away from her public, and even her family for a time. It's hard not to judge Joseph Kennedy for what happened to Rosemary, just as much as it's hard not to admire what her brothers and sisters, especially Eunice and Ted, did later in life to better the positions of disabled people.

If you like biographies of underappreciated people try:

Five Facts I Never Knew About the Wright Brothers

I started listening to the audiobook version of David McCullough's The Wright Brothers, and I'm hooked. It's the kind of audiobook that has you driving around aimlessly just so you can listen to it a little bit longer. I'm amazed that there is so much that I didn't know about these famous brothers. Here are my top five favorite new to me facts about the Wright Brothers:

  1. We think of them as geniuses, but at the time most people thought they were crazy.
  2. They lived in a tent while they built the first plane.
  3. They learned to fly from watching birds.
  4. They gave leftover plane material to a local to make dresses for her daughter.
  5. There was a Wright sister, and she was awesome.

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