Defined largely by humility. This is an introspective story written by a man whose spirit is never far removed from the sadness and grief of his childhood ... Honest and direct ... Surrender is more a van of a book than a private plane. It shrinks more ego than it inflates. Bono makes no bones about his outsized ambitions, but there’s always a fallible human being behind the big plans and then the superstardom ... By no means operatic. There’s a casual charm to the memoir, a feeling of being led through caverns of story by a guide with some things to get off his chest ... This is the rare rock star memoir written by a rock star who, you get the impression, could have been a writer ... U2 fanatics might already know much of the material in Surrender. For the rest of us, there’s something to discover in every chapter. Bono has a gift for making even the unattainable seem relatable ... He’s humble, even self-effacing. He might be fun to have a beer with. He is very much of this Earth.
Ambitious, sprawling ... The theme of utility and the practical function of a band comes up repeatedly ... Faith, philosophy and political strategy occupy far more of the pages than session details, and readers’ reactions will largely depend on their feelings about Bono, which tend to run to the extremes. If you want to hear a musician posing questions like 'So where is God?' you’ve come to the right place ... He knows what the skeptics think of him; he good-naturedly anticipates every criticism and mocks his own flirtations with self-parody ... The biggest challenge for Surrender is that it has to compete with Bono’s history as one of pop’s great orators. He’s open and honest, with language that can be witty and distinctive, addressing his competitive relationship with his father or growing up against the backdrop of Ireland’s political violence — but we’ve heard a lot of it before, in his eloquent interviews or onstage discourses ... Every single day that Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. wake up and are still the members of this band, they are in uncharted waters. Surrender makes no real attempt to explicate fully how they execute this magic trick ... Surrender soars whenever the spotlight comes on. Bono is never more powerful, on the page or the stage, than when he strives for the transcendence that only music can offer.
Nobody has done more to expand the parameters of rock stardom, often in contentious ways ... Running to 557 pages, Surrender is characteristically expansive, but it whizzes by ... Bono has storytelling verve and a genuine desire for self-examination, neither of which is guaranteed in rock memoirs. He is enthusiastic about praising others, often at his own expense ... There’s some blarney here – a weakness for the too-cute aphorism and the florid metaphor – but Bono’s appetite for contradictions and humiliations, which goes far beyond tactical self-deprecation, more than compensates ... [A] generous, energetic book.
Fascinatingly (and occasionally maddeningly) discursive memoir of the lightning-rod U2 frontman ... Celebrity do-gooders will and should be greeted with skepticism, but it’s tough to name another who has so successfully advanced from thrilling but largely ineffectual public condemnations of social ills to doing the tedious, unsexy, year-over-year, administration-over-administration work of building relationships with people who hold the levers of power ... Self-deprecating ... That’s not what most readers will be here for. Nor will they expect, or find, much...debauchery in the remembrances of a guy who’s been in a band with the same three dudes for 45 years and married to his high school sweetheart for 40; both relationships he reflects upon with candor and humility ... More introspective than salacious or score-settling ... A lot of it is also familiar, the author having shared many of its anecdotes — the same phrases, even — in concert introductions to songs ... Beginning with an account of a critical heart operation Bono underwent in 2016, the book bobs and weaves among subjects and eras, guided by thematic links more than by temporal signposts. The dexterity with which Bono pivots from the mysteries of songwriting to dissertations...is variable ... Bono knows his way around a joke, and he is well aware of his unfortunate habit of turning an earnest discussion of almost any subject that isn’t music into a TED Talk. That doesn’t mean he can always stop himself from doing it or that he even tries. It does mean the book is a representational self-portrait, not an aspirational one.
... begins with the U2 singer and activist nearly dying and ends with him being born. Both episodes are floridly written, a kind of poetic grandiloquence that tempers a default long-windedness throughout these 40 chapters ... But you don’t come to the 500+-page memoir by a big-mouth vocalist of a squillion-selling stadium act for pithiness ... So: not a book for anyone allergic to words. Lyrics – Bono’s own and others’ – quotes from Irish poets and bits of the Bible add to the prose that recounts, analyses, self-flagellates and pays tribute here ... If he goes on a bit, well, there is a vast amount to get through ... Bono knows he can be annoying. Fortunately, he can also be the right kind of annoying when, say, persistence and a silver tongue are needed to get big guns on side ... For the many encounters with musical greats here – he passes out on Frank Sinatra’s white sofa, worried he’s lost bladder control – the most gripping passages come where the stubborn, religious punk from Dublin unsheathes what must, admittedly, be a very silver tongue when it counts. If the 'behind the music' content is strong in Surrender, the real-world behemoths are next-level ... If Bono has a tendency to wax eloquent, Surrender is also a comprehensive survey of his character flaws, his pomposity and his mistakes ... The real eye-opener throughout is the depth, breadth and idiosyncrasy of his faith, a non-sectarian Catholicism that’s not strictly church-y ... Most pop star memoirs are confessionals of one sort or another. This one finds Bono examining his conscience more knowledgeably than most.
Poetic yet conversational ... Surrender is very much a love letter to the woman who calls him on his nonsense while still clearly lighting his creative, altruistic and romantic fires. Bono’s authorial style may dazzle or grate depending on one’s taste. He is fond of the fragment ... How much of all this should any reader believe? I believed all of it. Bono never shrinks from the ugly or embarrassing, never fails to call himself out for his failures and overreaching.
What is the purpose of a rock-star autobiography? You spend years having powerfully unconscious reactions to their music, then when they write their book, you get to see how they see themselves ... Though the structure is chronological, the tone is not. There is such power in the narrating voice, such apparent self-knowledge in the all-seeing 'I' that swivels back and forth over the years, that there is little sense of a character developing. Why? Because Bono has already made these journeys of self-discovery with his maker. And I’m not saying that facetiously.
The youthful exuberance and specificity of the first few chapters recede as the narrative progresses. Surrender doesn’t deliver much more about the process of making music after those early glimpses, which will be frustrating for some fans. There are brief passages that go behind the scenes of various U2 albums, with some entertaining anecdotes, but little in the way of any deep musical analysis ... So what does Bono talk about, if not music? Throughout the chatty, conversational book, he discusses the inner workings of his friendships with his bandmates, his relationship with his wife, Ali, and his belief in God ... here and there among the lofty pronouncements are little treasures, times in which Bono reveals himself to be a keen observer. In some of these short vignettes he manages to distill a given person’s essence through quick, trenchant descriptions ... These moments end up tipping the scales so that, ultimately, you very much feel that Bono passionately believes in the mythos he has created. The hyperbole can be hilarious, but also somehow poetic ... Are these lines cringeworthy? Sure. But it’s precisely this sort of unselfconscious earnestness that led Bono to write songs with such engagingly epic grandiosity, songs with such universal themes that they seem timeless. At its heart, Surrender is really about Bono’s faith—whether it is faith in his band, faith in his marriage, faith in God, or faith in his ability to spark change in the world. Surrender is also about Bono’s unshakable belief in himself—the unstoppable self-confidence necessary to push forth to the highest levels of stardom.
Bono’s writing is methodical if fragmented at times, revelatory as if he’s always thinking in song lyrics. If you truly want to get lost in his many adjectives and similes, you may want to consider the audiobook version Bono narrates himself ... Lengthy but engrossing, it mimics what a great concert should be, always leaving you wanting more.
The triumphs U2 has achieved throughout its nearly five-decade history are recounted with a combination of awe and disbelief. But so are the blunders which Bono, 62, owns with self-effacing humor ... one of the most comprehensive and exquisitely penned musician memoirs in recent memory.
Extraordinarily candid ... His words are likely to resonate intimately with anyone who lost a parent during childhood ... Honesty — along with self-deprecation and a remarkable recall of times past — that makes his lengthy autobiography such a riveting read ... A properly career-spanning book, tracking the rise of U2 into one of the world’s biggest bands, and it captures the changing face of the music industry too ... Surrender is far from a victory lap — Bono is ruthlessly analytical about U2’s many failures, and his own ... So much more than a music memoir. Bono’s childhood is marvellously evoked ... The book sags a little here and there. Bono is anxious to write about everyone and anyone who did a good turn for him ... Perhaps it’s a reflection of this reviewer, but some of the proselytising about all that campaigning work made my eyes glaze over ... It’s hard to imagine any U2 fan not being completely seduced by this book, but even those who get irritated by Bono — and, let’s face it, many of us have been there — might be surprised by how much they enjoy it ... Honest, witty, informative and beautifully written, Surrender will surely join the ranks of the great rock memoirs.
Surrender offers a sprawling, haphazard, open-hearted account of what he acknowledges has been a 'paradoxical life' ... He’s a voracious reader, deep thinker and sharp phrasemaker, and this one is all his own work. Albeit he did tell me that as much as he loved writing it, he hated editing it. Which frankly shows ... The narrative arc is not always easy to follow as the story trips backwards and forwards through time ... Bono writes like a songwriter, with rhythm and cadence, artful repetition and sloganeering hooks. He is fond of puns, alliteration and triplets ... Yet readers will search in vain for salacious details or gossipy indiscretions. Bono is generous to a fault, namechecking everyone whom he feels has contributed to his charmed life at a cost to narrative coherence ... For me, the force of will and humility involved in dedicating so much time and energy to the wellbeing of others is immensely moving, and I have never really understood why it should generate so much opprobrium. Do we really want rock stars who only care about themselves? ... This is no kiss-and-tell confessional, and may have less sex and drugs than any other rock-and-roll autobiography. What it does instead is open up the tumultuous inner life of a naturally rambunctious and hyper-driven man...in a moving tale of love, faith and artistry.
The loss of his mother goes through Bono’s book as an undercurrent ... Surrender is, especially in the first half, introspective, raw, self-deprecating, oddly earnest, almost self-accusing ... What is strange, and what makes much of this book so exciting and interesting, is that the sadness is overwhelmed by a desperate, frenzied desire to use life more richly since it has proved to be so fragile ... Bono is careful not to try to explain the songs too easily or glibly. He leaves much to mystery and resorts often to self-doubt ... Surrender is, in its own generous way, a book written by an Irishman to tell his mother how much he misses her, to tell his mates how much he rates them, and to let his wife and children know how much he loves them ... Alison Stewart, whom Bono first met when he was sixteen, remains elusive in the book. It is clear that Bono is still trying to figure her out.
Although Bono’s memoir frequently descends into humourless grandiosity — and although it is overreliant on the use of single-word sentences to make. Platitudinous. Statements. Appear. More. Profound. Than. They. Really. Are — it displays more self-awareness and humility than you might expect from this world-saving type ... Most revealingly, he goes to the heart of where his vaulting ambitions and messianic tendencies came from ... Bono at his best: thoughtful, reflective, revealing a wisdom that his rock-star persona covers up ... Harder to take are the moments when Bono loses all perspective and becomes, for want of a better term, excessively Bono-lik ... At the root of it all you don’t doubt his decency or integrity, which gives Surrender, despite its descents into pretentiousness and pomposity, its charm.
...a 500-plus page autobiography that occasionally gets bogged down in the micro details of political negotiations but is mostly an earthy, self-deprecating, often funny appraisal of the sometimes contradictory paths Bono has traveled ... The book is Bono at his Bono-iest: verbose, wry, inspiring, and fully aware of how grating he can be when his ego gets the best of him ... I’ve never fully understood the perception of Bono as someone who takes himself too seriously. His willingness to laugh at himself has always been evident, and it’s on full display in Surrender, which, a few goofy metaphors aside, is a lovely, thoughtfully written book.
Candid ... At nearly every turn, the author spends less time on band details than he does wrestling with the ethical implications of his successes and failures ... There’s little in the way of band gossip, and the author has a lyricist’s knack for leaving matters open to interpretation, which at times feels more evasive and frustrating than revealing. But he also evades the standard-issue rock-star confessional mode, and his story reveals a lifelong effort of stumbling toward integrity ... Chatty and self-regarding but pleasantly free of outright narcissism. A no-brainer for U2’s legions of fans.
Powerful and candid ... With remarkable frankness, he details what makes a great song...domestic life with his wife, Ali, and their four children; how the band almost fell apart ... Self-aware...and poignantly reflective...this is a must-read.