Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story by Bono #NewBooks #BookReview #AudiobookReview #Memoir #Autobiography

“When I started to write this book, I was hoping to draw in detail what I’d previously only sketched in songs. The people, places, and possibilities in my life. Surrender is a word freighted with meaning for me. Growing up in Ireland in the seventies with my fists up (musically speaking), it was not a natural concept. A word I only circled until I gathered my thoughts for the book. I am still grappling with this most humbling of commands. In the band, in my marriage, in my faith, in my life as an activist. Surrender is the story of one pilgrim’s lack of progress … With a fair amount of fun along the way.” –Bono

As one of the music world’s most iconic artists and the cofounder of the organizations ONE and (RED), Bono’s career has been written about extensively. But in Surrender, it’s Bono who picks up the pen, writing for the first time about his remarkable life and those he has shared it with. In his unique voice, Bono takes us from his early days growing up in Dublin, including the sudden loss of his mother when he was fourteen, to U2’s unlikely journey to become one of the world’s most influential rock bands, to his more than twenty years of activism dedicated to the fight against AIDS and extreme poverty. Writing with candor, self-reflection, and humor, Bono opens the aperture on his life–and the family, friends, and faith that have sustained, challenged, and shaped him.”

I’m a fan of U2, I’ve been listening to them since 1985 or 1986. But I’m not a SUPER FAN. I know the basics about the group and Bono: the band has been together since high school, that Bono has been with his wife just as long, that he’s Catholic, and that’s about it. I’m a casual fan. All this information should be new. Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) (Audible) is U2 front man Bono’s memoir of his life and of his songs. The title is a nod to the book’s forty chapters, which are each named after a U2 song and explores the concepts of the songs with stories from his life.

The audiobook is amazing! Not only do you have a very good narrator of his own life, Bono also sings snippets of songs based upon the chapters. Sometimes it is acapella, sometimes it is some of the actual song with music playing in the background. It definitely added to my enjoyment of the book.

Bono has always been very sure of himself, his music, and his causes. You could say that he’s one of the most self-aware celebrities out there, and Surrender is a revelatory experience for the fan. We all know Bono can write and turning his memories and thoughts into book form is masterful.

Bono talks candidly about his family, especially when his mother died when he was only 14. His father was, typically for the time, not openly demonstrative or open with his feelings. Bono has a much older brother, and they were as close as you can be with an age gap. (The parallels with my life hit me-losing my dad at age 14, a big age gap between me and my siblings). Bono also had his second family, his band, growing up.

One of the things I liked about the book is that Bono is a man of Catholic faith, and he mentions it from time to time, mentions parables from the Bible, even has a few prayers included. Yet, I didn’t feel like he was forcing me to accept his beliefs. I don’t know if that’s because I’m already Catholic, but he definitely does not give the hard sell on religion. It’s simply a fact of his life and incorporates it in his narrative wherever it fits. I wasn’t surprised by this as Bono’s music is contemplative to say the least.

Another great thing about listening to the audiobook is that Bono can do some seriously good impersonations of people. They were all good, but his Bill Clinton was really close. Despite his public image of the serious activist, Bono also displays his wicked sense of humor, too.

Bono has met many well-known people, especially statesman, the queen, the pope, you name it, Bono has met them. He shares the stories not as a way to humble-brag, but as a way of humanizing them. And it’s usually in the context of some sort of political or humanitarian efforts on the part of Bono, so critics of all the name-dropping are clearly missing the point.

Just like his music, Bono’s prose is true poetry. I have to say that I came away from this book admiring him even more than going in, just a casual fan of U2’s music who agreed with Bono on many of his causes. He uses his fame for a higher purpose, and I can’t fault him for that.

If you’re a fan, I definitely recommend the audiobook!

For more reviews, visit

Never miss a post! Subscribe to my email list below.

I’m also on PinterestInstagramTwitter and Tumblr. Check it out!

Join our Facebook page Bargain Sleuth Book Reviews or join our book group here.

This post contains affiliate links. That means I may earn a few pennies if you purchase any books mentioned in this post, at no additional cost to you. Monies earned offset the costs of web hosting.

One comment

  1. I used to be a U2 fan from the 80s as well, even seeing them in concert twice, but I’m not keen on their music now. I do find Bono a bit annoying, although can’t fault his activism! I’m definitely intrigued by the book but not sure I’d want to listen to him on audio. 🤷‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.