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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story by Bono

Thoughtful, self-deprecating, earnest, and honest, Surrender is a captivating peek into the four decades (and counting) of U2. Bono explores his faith, family, loyalty, inspiration, and important activism efforts.

I prefer listening to my memoirs read by the author, and I loved hearing U2's songwriter and lead singer Bono take us through the stumbles, pain, joy, and faith that have inspired his music and shaped his life.

From treasuring friends he's had since childhood (one of whom was the inspiration for the song "Bad"), to exploring "growing up in Ireland in the seventies with my fists up (musically speaking)"; from digging into the difficult relationship with his father to sharing how he attempted to cope with the loss of his mother decades after the fact, Bono's Surrender is beautifully honest, self-deprecating, and fascinating.

The framework of building the book around forty songs means some sections are shorter, some longer, but each has a key U2 song to anchor it. I loved listening to the book in order to hear each of these played.

Bono (Paul Houson) is a natural at self-reflection; he considers his motivations, his missteps, his great joys--and his lofty goals for the band, but largely for his activism efforts. He is a family man and fiercely loyal to his bandmates and friends.

Details of Bono's activism make up much of the second half of the book. He is interested in the potential power of his celebrity to do good, in learning about worthwhile issues, and in being actively involved in improving the lives of others. He played an important role in the push to cancel debt for African countries and in the battle to bring antiretroviral drugs to treat AIDS in African countries by speaking to Congress, working with various activist groups, making political friends on both sides of the aisle, and generally showing tenacity and stubbornness.

I loved listening to Bono's story in his voice.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

If you enjoy musicians' memoirs about the making of their music and their lives, you might like the books on the Greedy Reading List Six Musicians' Memoirs that Sing.


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