The Man Who Sold the World
David Bowie and the 1970s
By Peter Doggett
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780062024657, 512pp.)
Publication Date: July 1, 2012
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The Man Who Sold the World is a critical study of David Bowie's most inventive and influential decade, from his first hit, "Space Oddity," in 1969, to the release of the LP Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) in 1980. Viewing the artist through the lens of his music and his many guises, the acclaimed journalist Peter Doggett offers a detailed analysismusical, lyrical, conceptual, socialof every song Bowie wrote and recorded during that period, as well as a brilliant exploration of the development of a performer who profoundly affected popular music and the idea of stardom itself.
Dissecting close to 250 songs, Doggett traces the major themes that inspired and shaped Bowie's career, from his flirtations with fascist imagery and infatuation with the occult to his pioneering creation of his alter-ego self in the character of Ziggy Stardust. What emerges is an illuminating account of how Bowie escaped his working-class London background to become a global phenomenon. The Man Who Sold the World lays bare the evolution of Bowie's various personas and unrivaled career of innovation as a musician, singer, composer, lyricist, actor, and conceptual artist. It is a fan's ultimate resourcethe most rigorous and insightful assessment to date of Bowie's artistic achievement during this crucial period.
Peter Doggett has been writing about popular music, the entertainment industry, and social and cultural history since 1980. His books include the pioneering study of the collision between rock and country music, Are You Ready for the Country; and the award-winning There's a Riot Going On: Revolutionaries, Rock Stars, and the Rise and Fall of the '60s. His most recent book, You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup, was chosen as one of the 10 Best Books of 2010 by the Los Angeles Times.
“Meticulously researched….A wonderful opportunity to reconsider rock’s greatest chameleon.”
“Packed with insight, a go-to text for anyone who wants to understanding what Doggett calls ‘the uncanny strangeness of the seventies Bowie,’ and the creative process that led to his artistic breakthroughs.”
-San Francisco Chronicle
“Explores themes in Bowie’s most inventive period - from sexual identity to the nature of fame. Doggett’s song-by-song analysis will make obsessive fans of the ‘Ziggy Stardust’ days want to pull out their old vinyl.”
“Details a decade of styles and influences of one of rock’s most enigmatic personalities….A complete treat.”
“Meticulous….A captivating look at an artist who defined an era.”
“A thoughtful combination of critical observation and biographical digging….Doggett’s sparkling work of biocriticism is full of entertaining anecdotes and flashes of insight.”
-Booklist (starred review)
“Astonishing and absorbing…Expertly unpicks this explosively creative time in Bowie’s life…. [Doggett intercuts] the individually tailored song biographies with essays on everything from glam rock, minimalism and punk, to radical left-wing politics, music video and a mass of other subjects that helped shape the ideas behind Bowie’s songs.”
-Rob Fitzpatrick, Sunday Times (London)
“Doggett’s previous book, You Never Give Me Your Money: the Battle for the Soul of the Beatles, was the perfect preparation for writing about both the Seventies and Bowie.”
-Toby Litt, New Statesman
“There aren’t many writers who have the combination of classic-rock knowledge, reverence for an artist and sheer patience to successfully pull off this sort of project.”