I decided to ‘read’ SURRENDER as an audiobook, and I’m thrilled I did. Bono gives an incredible performance, showcasing an unexpected—and delightful—talent as a mimic. The overall presentation is a unique listening experience with full sound effects, new versions of iconic songs, and Bono singing unaccompanied.
In my mind, the audiobook is the memoir version of U2’s groundbreaking 360 Tour. And, as a U2 fan since their early days, I often had to pause the audiobook to revisit and rediscover beloved songs.
Many reviewers refer to this as a must-read, must-listen for any U2 fan, but I would argue it has a much broader appeal. It’s a beautifully written, candid reflection on friendship, family, marriage, spirituality, grief, and self.
The structure is fascinating. Chapters cover a great deal of ground in what feels to be a cleverly orchestrated and multi-layered story, but they leave room for stream of consciousness—especially toward the end.
SURRENDER is also a gripping account of social and cultural history, as well as Bono’s activism and insight into American politics. Plus he delivers stellar Clinton and Bush impersonations.
Obviously, there’s a great deal about Ireland. I grew up in Southern England when the IRA was active as a terrorist organization and thought I was reasonably well-informed about the Irish Troubles. But no, I was not. I learned quite a bit, and was stunned to hear about the threats the band had to navigate around the song “Sunday Bloody Sunday”.
Now that I’ve finished, I miss the lyrical sound of Bono’s voice, and I’ve gained new respect for him as a human being. What a life for a scrappy Irish kid who never went to college, but became a rock star who quotes poets and philosophers.