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Bowie: A Biography Paperback – Oct 5 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (Oct. 5 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307716996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307716996
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #13,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


BOWIE is inspired, edge-worn, loud, quiet, observant, humble, gorgeous, and humane. If the record business loved music as much as Marc Spitz does, there would still be a record business.” —Dan Kennedy, author of Rock On: An Office Power Ballad

“A breezy, well-lit portrait of the ever-enigmatic rocker . . . Spitz’s encyclopedic knowledge and obvious appreciation for Bowie’s work separate this book from countless cookie-cutter rock stories.”
Kirkus Reviews
“Spitz concentrates on the complex evolution of Bowie’s music to deliver an evenhanded, critically thorough, while still reverential, life of the Thin White Duke.” —Publishers Weekly

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

MARC SPITZ’s writing on rock ’n’ roll and popular culture has appeared in Spin, the New York Times, Maxim, Nylon, Blender and Uncut (UK). He is the author of How Soon Is Never?; Too Much, Too Late; and Nobody Likes You: Inside the Turbulent Life, Times, and Music of Green Day and coauthor with Brendan Mullen of We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In my quest to know all things about David Bowie I added this book to a long list of others on the subject. I wasn't disappointed. Marc Spitz really brought David to life for me. The end is so depressing though you may have to buy another book to persuade yourself that David Bowie will never die. You may want to try "Hallo Spaceboy". Definitely not disappointed in either book. Keep on reading!
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Format: Paperback
For a music fan, and a long time Bowie fan...this is a terrific read. I love all the in-depth details about influences, culture, environment.
I haven't quite got to the end yet (savouring it) but am thoroughly enjoying the content. Very well written.
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Format: Hardcover
Where did he dig up this stuff?
The book was gifted to me. Everyone knows I'm a huge Bowie fan. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed as I slogged through the first couple of chapters. It was hard to read. I had to keep leafing through the Oxford English Dictionary. I also kept running to the internet to cross reference some of the material. Maybe this is why it took me 18 months to finish reading it. Having said all that, it was a fantastic read full of unknown treasures. Each page was like opening up a surprise birthday gift. "Ooooooh!"
Aside from providing an accurate chronology, Marc Spitz includes his own savvy insights as to some of Bowie's motives and obvious strange behaviors. He is also compassionate in his coverage of Bowie's nearest and dearest. It's not easy being that close to "Stardust".
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great biography
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa2756e58) out of 5 stars 32 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa278d9f0) out of 5 stars Non-traditional but expansive and illuminating bio Nov. 17 2009
By Frascombe Bank - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I think there is more than enough heretofore uncovered biographical material in BOWIE to call it one of the best modern rock books of the decade. It's not your standard linear bio and for good reason. One of the strongest sections covers the silence of Bowie over the last few years. It's an unusual way for an author to approach his subject, but I think Spitz has some very intelligent things to say about this silence and the most serious of Bowie fans will find a lot of new ideas here.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa278da44) out of 5 stars Mostly compelling and essential, but missing bits and pieces Feb. 17 2011
By G. J. Simpson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm what Marc Spitz would call a `Bowie-ist'. As such, I read a Bowie biography once every couple of years or so. I did some research and read sufficiently intriguing reviews of this book to decide this was going to be the Bowie book that was different. And yes, it is. But I say that with some reservation. It is both compelling and frustrating, for reasons that might be the author's purpose.
The book succeeds at providing a context and a sense of what it might actually have been like to be Bowie, especially in the 70s. I enjoyed the feeling that the author was contemporary to me and was therefore able to relate Bowie to the wider context of popular and independent music through the last 40 years and more. This means not just referring to T Rex or Gary Numan, but later icons such as Radiohead and The Smiths. The author also supplies a socio-cultural context when appropriate. And he has done his fair share of interviewing and sourcing, as he provides new and insightful inputs from key players in Bowie's life. But what is particularly apparent to me is the sense that I am reading a factual narrative rather than a methodical biography. I don't know if that makes sense - I'm certainly not suggesting it reads like an historical novel, but it seems that the important things here is to get a sense of a life rather than be bogged down by exhaustive detail.
This doesn't mean that it lacks information - there is a whole lot of it. But anyone who has read extensively about Bowie will notice omissions and neglects. Some live LPs get overlooked as does the release of the Ziggy Stardust movie in any great detail. Angie Bowie basically vanishes from thought after a couple of years with no reference to this absence, only to re-appear briefly in reference to child custody. The book misses Bowie's revolutionary use of merchandising and self-promotion as he took on the world with the Serious Moonlight tour in an attempt to recapture the wealth lost/eluded in the Defries years. The rich detail one gets about discrete moments in time, even from Mojo and Uncut magazines, is just too amiss from here. (The bulk of the book is set in the 60s and 70s, and the 80s, 90s and 00s are treated slimly, but this is how almost every Bowie book approaches this, somewhat unfortunately yet unsurprisingly).
And yet, I really enjoyed the book. Because of what it is, a great story that indicates the heart and soul of the Bowie story in a way that more detailed books don't deliver. If you are a passing fan and want to read a thrilling representation of the Bowie psyche and mythos, this might well be the one for you.
If you're an obsessive, you'll want to make sure you read other books about Bowie as well, but definitely give this one a go. As far as the others go, `Alias David Bowie : a biography' by Peter Gillman and Leni Gillman is excellent. I enjoyed George Tremlett's `Living on the Brink', which includes a look into his latter financial success. `David Bowie : Moonage Daydream' by Dave Thompson is a great read with a whole heap of awesome pictures. Finding a copy of `David Bowie: An Illustrated Record' would be suitably rewarding. And for a truly encyclopedic reference, get `The Complete David Bowie' by Nicholas Pegg. You might need to find a used copy and any edition will probably do. `Strange Fascination: David Bowie - The Definitive Story' is meant to be excellent and will probably be in my hands when I want to read about Bowie again.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa278dd20) out of 5 stars Thoroughly Enjoyable Nov. 24 2009
By E. Svetova - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a very good book. It may not be the best as your First Bowie Book, but it is a wonderful piece of musical literary journalism in its own right. It is written with tact, respect, and sincere love for the subject, which is David Bowie's music, first and foremost. As far as the curious anecdotes about Mr. Jones himself, as well as sexy gossip and other juicy bits - this is probably not the venue, although it's hard to avoid (to this reader's great delight). I believe it was the author's choice to write a philosophical piece concerning the nature of creativity, using the beloved icon as a shining example. Personally, I would appreciate more photos, but, again, I didn't buy this book for illustrations.
26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2795264) out of 5 stars Marc Takes Us Outside March 27 2010
By Texzen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The author's effort here is uneven, at best. The book moves at a logical pace but becomes more chaotic and loses focus as it develops. Too much time spent on Bowie's sexuality (who cares?) and his place in history, though gargantuan, comes off portrayed in increments and glimpses - no real framing of his place in total. It becomes a tiresome listing (Bowie did an album, then Bowie did a movie, then Bowie made another band successful... ) lacking in framing, summary or the historical perspective required when looking at such an accomplished person. The occasional injection of the author's self-perspective is inappropriate, egoistic and boring (who care's). When it comes to the music of David Bowie, Spitz is shockingly light on insight, as if he were describing each album and a few of it's songs from eight blocks away after looking at them through a telescope. Finally, the overall presentation feels like he started the project and then, at a point, determined he neither had the time to complete it right or lacked the research to provide a close-up picture of the remote one. Either way, the metaphor of someone who has nibbled at his sandwich for 90% of his lunch hour and then, to complete it on time, slams the balance into his mouth resulting in a painful and ugly completion process describes my feeling reading the book. I have read biographies of Roman emperors that were more intimate than this read on David Bowie. If you really want to know Bowie, you better hang on to your scratch until someone with better sources and sense of project structure steps up.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa279527c) out of 5 stars Finally! A Biographer Without an Axe to Grind... Dec 18 2009
By J. Huebner - Published on
Format: Hardcover
An thoroughly researched and refreshingly even-handed treatment of the subject matter. Most other Bowie biographies resort to sensationalism or come across as half-baked indictment's from begrudged hangers-on or jilted ex-collaborators (see Edwards' and Zenetta's "Startdust" or the absolutely horrid "Backstage Passes" by Angela Bowie). While this book quotes from these two dubious sources (amongst many others), it does so only in good taste and with objectivity rarely found in the source material. This is the only fault I could find in this otherwise outstanding book. Importantly, full historical vignettes accompany the introduction of each important collaborator (Pitt, Ronson, Alomar, Garson, Visconti, Eno, Pop, Kemp, Bolan - the list goes on.) Buy this along with Thomas Seabrook's "Bowie in Berlin: A New Career In A New Town" and you can't go wrong. Very highly recommended.