REVIEW: “Lennon: The Definitive Biography” by Ray Coleman.

6 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Lennon: The Definitive Biography” by Ray Coleman.”

  1. “…assuming the CIA had the means to somehow program Manchurian Candidates into carrying out suspiciously random-looking assassinations, why on earth would they elect to use such technology on John Lennon”? There is a single two-word answer to that question: Central America. Lennon was due to win his U.S. citizenship a few months after his assassination, and elements of the Permanent Government needed to eliminate the chance that Lennon would have joined the opposition to their murderous counterrevolutionary wars in Central America (esp. Nicaragua and El Salvador), just getting underway as Reagan’s transition team was taking power in December 1980. If you think that motive doesn’t hold water, then you don’t know much about the Central America wars of the 1980s. If you think the CIA was/is incapable of creating “programmed assassins” then you aren’t familiar with the books documenting the effort to do exactly that, e.g. _The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: the CIA and Mind Control_ by John Marks. And you owe it to yourself to watch the film “RFK Must Die”, in which you can see Dr. Herbert Spiegel, one of the world’s experts on clinical hypnosis (now deceased, see his obit in the NY Times:, explain why he’s absolutely convinced that Sirhan Sirhan was just such a programmed assassin. And visit They had a motive, big time. And they had the means. And by the way, they (famously) *did* try to kill Fidel Castro, and more than once.

    1. You should get out more. You should also try reading some history books that are written by serious historians rather than websites by amateurs with paranoid conspiracies swishing round their brains. As it happens I DO NOT need lectured about America’s involvement with Central and Latin America. Nor do I need lectured about the various “mind-control” theories that have formed such a perennial and ubiquitous backdrop to what Richard Hofstadter called “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” (seeing as we’re swapping recommendations here, you would do well to read this imperishable essay by one of America’s GREAT historians – you might find it a little like looking into a mirror).

      Theories that unsuspecting folks are being controlled without their knowledge have been with us for aeons. In the middle-ages it was the devil that was taking over the vulnerable minds of others and forcing them to do unspeakable acts. Since the 20th Century such ideas have been a regular feature of the more mushy-headed and paranoid end of our discourse. By the Cold War there was McCarthyism and the reds under bed stuff. Late in the 50s it was Vance “The Hidden Persuaders” Packard who was trying to convince us that advertising that was subliminally programming us against our will. It was the Cuban Missile crisis in the 60s and – especially – Watergate in the 70s that did more than anything to cement the idea that “they are out to get us” in the minds of the general populous, lending spurious credence to the idea that governmental agencies could control our minds at will. Such ideas are also a ubiquitous element of our popular culture: stories of brainwashing feature regularly in films, TV, novels, and comic books, which really ought to tell you something. There is a reason, in other words, why so-called Manchurian Candidates are named after the film of the novel, and not the other way around.

      Not that our governments and their security agencies do much to help matters. I’m sure you and I could agree that the CIA and FBI have over the years and in many ways acted with criminally amoral immunity, with the Iran/Contra scandal being only the most well known of these nefarious deeds. I would even argue that the CIA has, on occasion, behaved no better than a terrorist organisation and sponsor of terrorist organisations. I can’t help feeling, though, that the above example, as well as your own reference to Castro, belies the true nature of conspiracy. Everyone knows (by the way) that the CIA repeatedly tried to off Castro, but the glaring disparity between the kinds of bungled plots that are an established part of the historical record and the kind of ultra-complex ‘super secret assassin’ plot proffered by your good self is, to say the least, extreme. The idea that the same government agencies that ballsed up the Bay of Pigs fiasco in such a spectacular manner, and made such a veritable Woody Allen film of the Castro plots (complete with exploding cigars) is also the same agencies that can, at will, brainwash people into carrying out their deadly deeds is, to put it mildly, improbable. Tim Werner makes this point forcefully in his excellent history of the CIA (‘Legacy of Ashes’ – a book you really should read): the CIA is NOT in control – the CIA is RUBBISH.

      Ah “RFK Must Die”! That old chestnut! I didn’t think – perhaps naively – that there were many people left who still gave credence to that codswallop, seeing as it was shown to be based on an entirely false set of premises. I guess that’s the trouble with the internet: people originally thought it might all prove to be a bit ephemeral, yet the opposite turned out to be the case. Demonstrable falsehoods, distortions, evasions, and outright lies are free to whiz round and round forever, completely unchallenged. That great scientist Ben Goldacre has called them “zombie arguments”; being arguments that have been refuted time and time again but wont lie down. (‘Climate change is caused by sunspots’ was the example he used.)

      To be brief: the central premise of “RFK Must Die” has been exposed as entirely erroneous. The supposed CIA ‘special operatives’ picked out in O’Sullivan’s film were nothing of the sort, having been the victims of a somewhat underhand case of mistaken identity. One of those identified as part of the plot (Gordon Campbell) actually died six years earlier. Of the three ‘operatives’ allegedly caught on tape the day of the assassination, two have been positively identified as boring old Michael Roman and Frank Owens – watch salesman attending a company conference being held in the Ambassador that day. (Have a read of this article by one of the two researchers who exposed O’Sullivan’s film. Ironically they were, like you, trying to prove the conspiracy real – the evidence simply suggested otherwise: ).

      I don’t doubt for a second, therefore, that Dr. Herbert Spiegel sincerely believes in the brainwashing theory, any more than I doubt you sincerely believe it too. The problem is, history is littered with very intelligent people who believe some really very strange and stupid things. “World experts” can, and do, get it wrong all the time. (By the way, you do understand that hypnosis is, at best, pseudo-science?) I come across people, websites, blogs, and viral videos that try to impress upon me all sorts of phantasmagorical devilish deeds and plots all the time – man didn’t land on the moon, Princess Diana was murdered, 9/11 was an inside job, the Jews made up the Holocaust, etc, etc. I once met a man who told me he had been on a spaceship, and he too expected me to believe him.

      All of which is to say, you are free to believe in such stories if you so wish. Though do please try them on those who are a little more – how can I put this? – malleable.

  2. You are an absolute wretch – a mind boggling ineptitude (look it up.) Seriously, you are obviously fat and lonely… more hilariously, you are a loser writing a blog because you are manifestly a failed journalist. End. Now please run fast off a cliff and take your poison with you.

    1. Fat? There’s a picture of me in the ‘About’ tab. You couldn’t be more wrong. Nor am I lonely, but it would hardly matter if I was. Your name, I would suggest for that reason, is precisely one word too long. But I suppose if the best you can do is to hurl inaccurate insults at me, then that’s the best you can do. Better luck next time.

  3. I enjoyed this review at least as much as I enjoyed Coleman’s book. Btw, many thanks for your book recommendations, some of which I hope to pursue.

  4. It’s annoying when people don’t bother to check their facts. The Rutles were Dirk McQuickly (Paul), Ron Nasty (John), Stig O’Hara (George) and Barry Wom (Ringo). Not a Dick in sight.
    A shame you didn’t enjoy what I think is the best Lennon bio out there, but it’s always horses for courses.

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