Before the Legend

Like a Freudian shrink, Wall Street Journal editor Christopher John Farley spends most of this not-quite-a-biography, Before the Legend, digging through the turmoil of Bob Marley’s tumultuous childhood to gain insight into his adulthood. Using new interviews with the reggae icon’s peers and family members, Farley digs up some fresh facts — Marley’s father was of mixed-race descent, not white, as was previously thought — while clearly showing how Jamaica’s steamy mix of post-colonial racism, spiritual devotion, and class struggle influenced the singer’s early life. Though the main narrative is gripping, there’s not quite enough meat to fill this slim, 205-page book, and numerous philosophical digressions and half-baked music history lessons interrupt the groove.

Before the Legend
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