Alison Behnke’s Death of a Dreamer: The Assassination of John Lennon presents the circumstances surrounding Mark David Chapman’s 1980 murder of John Lennon in a format that is both appealing and appropriate for middle and high school readers. The first third of the book deals with Lennon’s early life and his time with The Beatles. The middle sections focus on Lennon’s solo career and his troubles with the United States government arising from Lennon’s protests against the Vietnam War. The final third discusses Mark David Chapman’s life, his fascination with J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Chapman’s plot to murder John Lennon, and the assassination’s aftermath, including up-to-date information about those involved in Lennon’s and Chapman’s lives, and various tributes to John Lennon that coincided with what would have been his 70th birthday in 2010.
Behnke’s book is smartly designed with lavish, interesting photographs. Sidebars present relevant contextual information about Lennon, The Beatles, musical styles, Salinger, as well as quotes and anecdotes that fall outside the narrative flow of the text. End matter includes a timeline, Who’s Who, and reference sources.
Young readers will find this book engrossing and informative, although the section dealing with the politics and turmoil of the Vietnam era may be a bit dense for some students. Libraries should definitely add Death of a Dreamer to their collections for its value as both a research resource and a high-interest work of nonfiction.
Death of a Dreamer is forthcoming from Lerner Publishing Group in May, 2012.