A Rebel Life
New York Times Editors’ Choice, One of NPR’s Best Books of the Year In this “infinitely readable” biography, award-winning author Mary Gabriel chronicles the meteoric rise and enduring influence of the greatest female pop icon of the modern era: Madonna (People Magazine) With her arrival on the music scene in the early 1980s, Madonna generated nothing short of an explosion—as great as that of Elvis or the Beatles—taking the nation by storm with her liberated politics and breathtaking talent. Within two years of her 1983 debut album, a flagship Macy's store in Manhattan held a Madonna lookalike contest featuring Andy Warhol as a judge, and opened a department called “Madonna-land.” But Madonna was more than just a pop star. Everywhere, fans gravitated to her as an emblem of a new age, one in which feminism could shed the buttoned-down demeanor of the 1970s and feel relevant to a new generation. Amid the scourge of AIDS, she brought queer identities into the mainstream, fiercely defending a person's right to love whomever—and be whoever—they wanted. Despite fierce criticism, she never separated her music from her political activism. And, as an artist, she never stopped experimenting. Madonna existed to push past boundaries by creating provocative, visionary music, videos, films, and live performances that changed culture globally. Deftly tracing Madonna’s story from her Michigan roots to her rise to super-stardom, master biographer Mary Gabriel captures the dramatic life and achievements of one of the greatest artists of our time.