A veteran journalist and screenwriter...Ray Connolly lays no claim to fresh revelations about the life of the group’s self-styled leader, instead offering insights into Lennon’s complex, contradictory character. He’s well qualified, having struck up a camaraderie with Lennon over the late 1960s/early 70s ... He handles their much-told tale with welcome concision ... there never was a Saint John—the man in Ray Connolly’s account is much more human, and much more lovable.
Connolly...takes a sensible route down the path dividing the saint and the monster in this careful, thoughtful biography ... Connolly wears his acquaintance lightly, never forcing himself into the narrative or sinking into the hideous mateyness that can blight rock biographies. It explains, too, why the Lennon captured here feels so warm to the touch ... For Connolly, it is Lennon’s insecurities that are ultimately most revealing, rooted in an unsettled childhood in Liverpool’s postwar suburbs ... for anyone interested in the Beatles, their story has something of the infinite flexibility of fairy tale or Arthurian legend, able to withstand endless retellings ... Connolly does all this with quiet expertise, an understated writer who collates all the details into a vivid whole ... neither hatchet job nor hagiography, Being John Lennon swerves dead-hero worship.
... likable and workmanlike but hardly revelatory ... Connolly is able occasionally to relay personal conversations that prove legitimately new and interesting and that elevate Being John Lennon into something more than a glorified clip job ... Aside from the primary material, Connolly’s strengths as a biographer are numerous. He writes crisply and well, albeit very much in the British vernacular, and he traverses the contours of his subject’s short but momentous life with authority. The chapters are short, the pacing is quick, and the author is able to mold Lennon’s often diffuse interests and experiences into a satisfying narrative ... Connolly...provides vivid descriptions ... Aside from the occasional gaffe...he is mostly a canny guide to the music ... Despite the book’s many fine qualities, however, there remains a nagging sense that Being John Lennon, at bottom, does not really enhance our understanding of its subject in any profound way.