Book Review: “Imagine” by John Lennon

Imagine my surprise when I got a 20% off coupon in the mail for one item at Barnes & Noble. All I could think was, “How generous of them considering you usually don’t get any discount unless you PAY to join their club!” So I headed off to my local Barnes & Noble store, but I didn’t have to walk far before I found exactly what I wanted!

Imagine was published in partnership with Amnesty International by Clarion Books and released in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia on September 21, 2017, the International Day of Peace and in 10 other countries at later dates. The Foreword is by Yoko Ono and it’s illustrated by French artist Jean Jullien.

“In Partnership” – interesting terminology, but what exactly does it mean? The back cover says, “Published in partnership with Amnesty International in support of their work to protect human rights.” So does that mean that Amnesty is getting all the profits from this book? 50% of the profits? Some articles I’ve read talk about this book drawing attention to human rights. Does that mean Amnesty is getting nothing but their name associated with this book? These are all questions I can’t answer because no one at Amnesty, Clarion Books or at the Dakota will answer the emails I sent them asking (this explains why I’m late posting this review). Does it matter? Yes…

This book is beautiful! With it’s iridescent feathers on the a pigeon on the cover and the gorgeous artwork inside, it would make a great addition to any Beatles book collector’s bookshelf…for $18.99 for 32 pages of the lyrics to the song Imagine. When it comes to being a children’s book, I feel it’s a bit pricey (unless you have money to burn for such things) and it may be a hard lesson to children when you say to them, “Imagine there’s no heaven…” We as adults understand the meaning behind those words, but a small child may not. At the same time, the book would make a great easy reader for a young child.

It’s a tough call. I probably won’t be reading this to my grand-daughters, but it will make a nice addition to my collection. I’d love to know that all the profits are going to Amnesty. The last page of the book is a thank you from Amnesty to the illustrator and Yoko for letting them use John’s song, so one could that they get the proceeds. And for that reason…or until I hear otherwise…

I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!






1 Comment

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One response to “Book Review: “Imagine” by John Lennon

  1. Rob Geurtsen

    The lyrics are not positive, myth has it that Lennon said: “”[Imagine] is anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic… but because it is sugar-coated, it is accepted.”

    Yoko Ono published a poetic ‘action’, for the 1963 book Grapefruit, entitled ‘Cloud Piece’:

    Imagine the clouds dripping.
    Dig a hole in your garden to
    put them in.

    This inspired Lennon to write ‘Imagine’.

    ‘Imagine’ is a song fitting the era it was composed, recorded and releases. Those were the days of protest, alternatives, etc. indeed not a pro message, but an ‘anti’ message. The text is anti-‘elephant’, the effect of this lyrics is something like ‘Don’t think of a pink elephant’, there it is, the pink elephant is in your head. Poetically it is really a bad lyric… this anti-elephant effect is one of the first things we might learn in communication and persuasion class.

    Lennon and his pro-critics pretended the song is idealistic, or in a worst-case scenario naïve. How come, there no ideals formulated other than peace, and the means to peace is supposedly a change in systems… An idea that has a weak foundation. When the album was released, Lennon knew people had to change in their heads to make a difference, not so much in systems. Of course, in his flirt with the New Left and the immigration-case he found justification for his ‘Imagine’ lyric.
    You won’t teach children a lot about peace with anti-sloganeering. I think Amnesty made a minor mistake. I wonder who still lives under the spell of Lennon being an authentic idealist and him being a worthy marketing tool for Amnesty.

    Indeed, who gets the money?


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