Peter Ames Carlin
(Simon and Schuster)
Rating: Four Stars
While the life of the distinctive American legend has been chronicled many times before, in Bruce author Peter Ames Carlin comes closest to the real deal.
Through extensive research Carlin tells how Springsteen became a celebrated musician, eventually transforming into a working class icon. However, Carlin is careful not to go down the familiar path found in many biographies, instead focusing on the details that make up the richest part of a life, including the tragedies.
Among the topics covered is an inside battle between magazines and the media coverage that circled Springsteen. Many of the details about his most revered albums along with relationships with band members paint a captivating portrait of an artist. Carlin’s skill as a journalist keeps his interviews and prose from treading into “Behind the Music,” territory. While some accounts are reverential, like the mythmaking opening, Carlin largely allows for Springsteen, his friends and associates to tell the story.
Bruce reads as a series of interviews of those remembering how their lives were impacted. (Including the last interview with Clarence Clemons.) Springsteen is presented fully as an icon; however, Carlin doesn’t shy away from revealing a sometimes controlling taskmaster. Classic apparently doesn’t come easy.