Unforgettable Fire

The outline of the story is familiar: Four gifted and rebellious teenage boys from the streets of a big city in the British Isles turn to rock ’n’ roll to express their hopes for a life beyond the crushing limits of social convention. After fighting their way up through the local competition, they find an ambitious manager and go on to become stars with millions of fans who identify passionately with every note they sing and play.

This time, however, it is not the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, Liverpool or London, in the 1960’s, but U-2 from Dublin who have become superstars after a tumultuous appearance on 1985’s televised Live Aid concert. For U-2--Bono Hewson, Edge (David Evans), Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen--the Beatles and Stones are distant history. They try to forge a distinctive electric sound and performance style that will rejuvenate rock’s idealism by combining youthful hedonism and an earnest belief in evangelical Christianity.

Eamon Dunphy makes a compelling narrative of their success, following with equal skill the ups and downs of their careers and the ins and outs of their emotional/musical evolution. Readers who do not know and love U-2’s music may balk at Dunphy’s sometimes gushy tone, but UNFORGETTABLE FIRE is an important and informative book in the continuing saga of contemporary pop culture.