This is not a celebrity bio like Bill Flanagan's recent warts-and-all U2: At the End of the World. Instead, Irish music journalist Waters (Jiving at the Crossroads) takes an often more interesting approach to the U2 "phenomenon" by trying to fit the band into a larger cultural context. Relying on such disparate resources as Flann O'Brien and Greil Marcus, Waters looks at U2 first as four young products of society, then as one of the most successful rock bands of the decade. Doing so slows the book to a snail's pace: Waters's depiction of the artistically impoverished Dublin that haunted the youth of U2's generation is extremely specific and will exclude American readers unfamiliar with Irish entertainment and political personalities. His analysis of U2's music, meanwhile, sounds too subjective and sweeping, as if Waters hopes his grand statements will impress this band he so obviously admires (press material describes the author as a "personal friend and intellectual sparring partner of Bono and the other members of U2"). Instead of a chronological narration of U2's hard-earned rise to superstardom, which might have sharpened his critical perspective, Waters's chapters spin in dizzying circles of hypothesis and history (both of nation and of band). For the sedulous reader, there are insights throughout?even if they're not always worth the time and effort required to decode the confounding polemics. Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
An intellectual's heap of his highbrow reading, interviews with three of the band (where's Larry?), and big ideas on Irish identity in an alienated, globalized pop culture. It's a book that must have, when it came out in 1994 after "Zooropa" have bewildered fans wanting another tell-all lightweight read about their idols. I confess to a weakness for big ideas on Irish and musical and intellectual concepts. So, their combination here intrigued me. Waters, later known more … more