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John Lennon vs. the U.S.A.: The Inside Story of the Most Bitterly Contested and Influential Deportation Case in United States History

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At a time when the hottest issue in US immigration law is the proposed action by President Obama to protect from deportation as many as 5 million illegals in the United States, the 1972 John Lennon deportation case takes on special relevance today, notwithstanding the passage of forty years since he was placed in deportation proceedings. For the first time, noted New York At a time when the hottest issue in US immigration law is the proposed action by President Obama to protect from deportation as many as 5 million illegals in the United States, the 1972 John Lennon deportation case takes on special relevance today, notwithstanding the passage of forty years since he was placed in deportation proceedings. For the first time, noted New York immigration attorney Leon Wildes tells the incredible story of this landmark case John Lennon vs. The U.S.A. -- that set up a battle of wills between John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and President Richard Nixon. Although Wildes did not even know who John Lennon and Yoko Ono were when he was originally retained by them, he developed a close relationship with them both during the eventual five-year period while he represented them and thereafter. This is their incredible story."


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At a time when the hottest issue in US immigration law is the proposed action by President Obama to protect from deportation as many as 5 million illegals in the United States, the 1972 John Lennon deportation case takes on special relevance today, notwithstanding the passage of forty years since he was placed in deportation proceedings. For the first time, noted New York At a time when the hottest issue in US immigration law is the proposed action by President Obama to protect from deportation as many as 5 million illegals in the United States, the 1972 John Lennon deportation case takes on special relevance today, notwithstanding the passage of forty years since he was placed in deportation proceedings. For the first time, noted New York immigration attorney Leon Wildes tells the incredible story of this landmark case John Lennon vs. The U.S.A. -- that set up a battle of wills between John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and President Richard Nixon. Although Wildes did not even know who John Lennon and Yoko Ono were when he was originally retained by them, he developed a close relationship with them both during the eventual five-year period while he represented them and thereafter. This is their incredible story."

30 review for John Lennon vs. the U.S.A.: The Inside Story of the Most Bitterly Contested and Influential Deportation Case in United States History

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kusaimamekirai

    Maybe it’s something about lawyers. “John Lennon vs. the U.S.A.”, about the 5 years between 1971-1976 when the US government fought tooth and nail for the immediate deportation of John Lennon (and Yoko Ono), is inherently interesting. I love John Lennon. I’m equally fascinated and horrified by some of the worst excesses of the US government particularly under Hoover’s FBI and the increasingly erratic and disturbing Richard Nixon. Put these two together and you have a dynamite book with a dynami Maybe it’s something about lawyers. “John Lennon vs. the U.S.A.”, about the 5 years between 1971-1976 when the US government fought tooth and nail for the immediate deportation of John Lennon (and Yoko Ono), is inherently interesting. I love John Lennon. I’m equally fascinated and horrified by some of the worst excesses of the US government particularly under Hoover’s FBI and the increasingly erratic and disturbing Richard Nixon. Put these two together and you have a dynamite book with a dynamite title right? Well, yes and no. This book in many respects reminded me of lawyer Jeffrey Haas’s book, “The Assassination of Fred Hampton”, about a similar period time where there are some fascinating looks into what lengths the government went to disrupt or “neutralize” political opponents but far too often gets bogged down in legal jargon and self congratulation. This is not to say that Wildes doesn’t deserve credit for getting Lennon his green card after five long years of a long and bitter fight. He does. Perhaps music would’ve been vastly different had Lennon been living in the UK for the last 5 years of his life instead of in New York. How many beloved Lennon songs may never have been written? However, with all due respect to Wildes, the people interested in this book aren’t interested in how he feels gratified that he gave Lennon five more years in the US with his son or how he and the Lennons became great friends or were frequently invited to A-list events. These are mentioned more than once and do come off as a little self congratulatory. It’s his book and in the end, and he’s entitled to write it from whatever perspective he chooses. And yet, one can’t help but feel a little disappointed that John and Yoko at times almost feel like peripheral characters in this story to his brilliant legal maneuvers and how he changed the Lennons lives. When he does focus on what the government was doing to Lennon (bugging his phones, constant surveillance, shelving his visa applications in dark corners of INS offices unopened…) the book is fascinating. I guess I just selfishly wanted to know more about why Lennon was being persecuted than how Wildes was able to obtain a permanent visa for him. Not a bad book by any means, but somehow a book about John Lennon and government harassment left me feeling not much of anything. Not something I would’ve expected going in.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Montgomery

    This is essentially a very detailed account of a long legal battle. Accordingly, reading about which forms were filed when, who obtained an injunction against whom, etc, etc, can become boring and dry. However, it's definitely worth a read to learn, in depth, about the Nixon administration's illegal (and at times hilariously incompetent) attempt to remove John from the country out of sheer political paranoia. On that note - perhaps a more compelling reason to pick this one up, not just for Lenno This is essentially a very detailed account of a long legal battle. Accordingly, reading about which forms were filed when, who obtained an injunction against whom, etc, etc, can become boring and dry. However, it's definitely worth a read to learn, in depth, about the Nixon administration's illegal (and at times hilariously incompetent) attempt to remove John from the country out of sheer political paranoia. On that note - perhaps a more compelling reason to pick this one up, not just for Lennon fans, but for everyone who cares about freedom, is the behind the scenes info on the inner workings of a corrupt, paranoid, unscrupulous & almost authoritarian administration which commits blatantly illegal acts out of everything from fear, to greed, to foolish vanity - In these early days of the Trump regime, books like this are more important than ever.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bill Buckley

    Very interesting account written by the lawyer who represented John and Yoko in the 1970's when the US government was trying to deport them. The Lennons would ultimately win the case and it continues to have legal ramifications to this day. (DACCA). Anyway there is a quote in the book that states something to the effect of "John Lennon was the greatest singer/songwriter or musician who ever lived" I recently said this very thing on Facebook on a Beatles group I belong to, and many people took exc Very interesting account written by the lawyer who represented John and Yoko in the 1970's when the US government was trying to deport them. The Lennons would ultimately win the case and it continues to have legal ramifications to this day. (DACCA). Anyway there is a quote in the book that states something to the effect of "John Lennon was the greatest singer/songwriter or musician who ever lived" I recently said this very thing on Facebook on a Beatles group I belong to, and many people took exception and it sparked a great debate. Of course there are many other great artists, Freddy Mercury, and the other Beatles just to name a few. But it was great to see that at least one other person on this planet agrees with me. Probably many indeed. May John Lennon's music and spirit live forever and continue to inspire and entertain many for decades to come.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jillian

    Very timely. I never realized the immigration issues for John and Yoko went on for FIVE years. The author of the book, Leon Wildes, was their lawyer. The Nixon administration wanted the Lennons out of the USA because of their influence on the younger generation--the voting age had just been lowered to 18. I learned a lot about the immigration process, visas, non-priority cases, etc.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    One of the most high-profile immigration cases involved John Lennon and it took 5 years to rectify. Its champion is the author himself, and Leon Wildes gives a first-hand expert look at the many trials and tribulations involved in keeping Lennons (including wife Yoko Ono) in the States despite the Nixon administration’s determination to kick them out. Regardless of his artistic and financial contributions to the nation and because of his outspokenness, Lennon had red tape thrown in his path at e One of the most high-profile immigration cases involved John Lennon and it took 5 years to rectify. Its champion is the author himself, and Leon Wildes gives a first-hand expert look at the many trials and tribulations involved in keeping Lennons (including wife Yoko Ono) in the States despite the Nixon administration’s determination to kick them out. Regardless of his artistic and financial contributions to the nation and because of his outspokenness, Lennon had red tape thrown in his path at every legal turn. But Wildes knew the business of immigration law and through various law suits and challenges taking the government to task, finally achieved the American Dream for John. Though it is heavy on the legalese, this book is a “historic document” (Yoko’s words) and has affected immigration law over the past 4 decades. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Daria Zeoli

    While I consider myself a big fan of The Beatles and well-versed in much of the lives of its members, I knew very little about the over 4 years that John Lennon fought deportation by the US government. This book, written by Lennon's immigration lawyer, is a fascinating look at a legal battle that influences immigration today. I couldn't help but think of the parallels going on 40 years on. While some of the book felt repetitive, I never felt overwhelmed by legal jargon. I highly recommend this b While I consider myself a big fan of The Beatles and well-versed in much of the lives of its members, I knew very little about the over 4 years that John Lennon fought deportation by the US government. This book, written by Lennon's immigration lawyer, is a fascinating look at a legal battle that influences immigration today. I couldn't help but think of the parallels going on 40 years on. While some of the book felt repetitive, I never felt overwhelmed by legal jargon. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in John Lennon or in the government's influence in immigration matters. Thanks to NetGalley for a review copy of this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    J Earl

    John Lennon vs. The U.S.A. is a detailed account of John and Yoko's 4+ year deportation legal battle written by their lead attorney Leon Wildes. While there is some wonderful insight into both John and Yoko this is not about them in the way a biography would be but rather about the case and their lives during this very specific time. I came to this as both a Beatle and a John Lennon fan as well as someone skeptical of much about our government when under despotic administrations, in this case Nix John Lennon vs. The U.S.A. is a detailed account of John and Yoko's 4+ year deportation legal battle written by their lead attorney Leon Wildes. While there is some wonderful insight into both John and Yoko this is not about them in the way a biography would be but rather about the case and their lives during this very specific time. I came to this as both a Beatle and a John Lennon fan as well as someone skeptical of much about our government when under despotic administrations, in this case Nixon's and currently the cheeto-in-chief. As a Lennon fan I appreciated what he went through, and was willing to go through, to stand up for what he believed in and to stand by what was in Yoko's interest (child custody). As a fan of commentary about abusive politics and bureaucracy I learned a lot about how those abuses can be accomplished and, as a lesson for contemporary times, what to watch for when an anti-democracy despot is in power. The reading is lively considering the nature of the material (mostly legalese) and touches as much on the humanity of everyone involved as it does about the convoluted laws and rules which permit and even encourage abuse. I would recommend this to anyone interested in either John Lennon or learning what to watch for under illegitimate and undemocratic administrations. Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.

  8. 4 out of 5

    George Heidemark

    Leon Wildes is a pioneering lawyer in immigration law and this is his inside story of representing John Lennon in his immigration case against the US government. Lennon was an outspoken critic of the Nixon Presidency and the government feared that the former Beatle could mobilize the youth vote against the White House. The result was a campaign to deport Lennon who was on a visa back to Britain. Wildes comes up with a novel way to keep Lennon in the country as well as gradually unraveling the go Leon Wildes is a pioneering lawyer in immigration law and this is his inside story of representing John Lennon in his immigration case against the US government. Lennon was an outspoken critic of the Nixon Presidency and the government feared that the former Beatle could mobilize the youth vote against the White House. The result was a campaign to deport Lennon who was on a visa back to Britain. Wildes comes up with a novel way to keep Lennon in the country as well as gradually unraveling the governments persecution of the musician. Actually the Lennon case serves as a precedent in immigration law. This is not a Beatles book but it is a fascinating inside look at Lennon and Yoko Ono during a period when they feared deportation. And it is the story of a corrupt administration out to destroy its enemies. Although the legalities of the case are complex this is a fascinating tale.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Lennon has been so well-chronicled that the only meaningful way to learn anything about him is to discover a slightly new angle. That's where Leon Wildes comes in. He was a decidedly unhip old-school Jewish immigration attorney, who ended up representing Lennon is his battle to avoid deportation and become an American citizen. Wildes didn't really know who they Beatles were when he met Lennon, but his story of dealing with an in-the-trenches legal battle with Lennon and Ono is pretty interesting Lennon has been so well-chronicled that the only meaningful way to learn anything about him is to discover a slightly new angle. That's where Leon Wildes comes in. He was a decidedly unhip old-school Jewish immigration attorney, who ended up representing Lennon is his battle to avoid deportation and become an American citizen. Wildes didn't really know who they Beatles were when he met Lennon, but his story of dealing with an in-the-trenches legal battle with Lennon and Ono is pretty interesting stuff. At times, the legal jargon can get a little tedious or thick-- and that's coming from a practicing attorney. But on the whole, this was a fresh look at a familiar and much beloved figure, an interesting legal battle, and a fun read. Entirely worth your while.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The power of the federal government is clearly demonstrated in this book, and is a cautionary tale for those who believe in the unbridled power of government. Power can be abused. The book renders a sympathetic account of John and Yoko, particularly with respect to their unsuccessful attempt to find Yoko's daughter, Kyoko Ono Cox. The power of the federal government is clearly demonstrated in this book, and is a cautionary tale for those who believe in the unbridled power of government. Power can be abused. The book renders a sympathetic account of John and Yoko, particularly with respect to their unsuccessful attempt to find Yoko's daughter, Kyoko Ono Cox.

  11. 5 out of 5

    marcia

    One thinks the immigration department is political now but I did not know it started back in the 70's. the long haul to accomplish the residency was eye opening. I wonder if the road to this end would have been the same if it wasn't John Lennon. One thinks the immigration department is political now but I did not know it started back in the 70's. the long haul to accomplish the residency was eye opening. I wonder if the road to this end would have been the same if it wasn't John Lennon.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kathie

    Interesting memoir by the lead attorney in the Lennons' immigration case. Immigration lawyers, individuals with interests in immigration law, and those who lived through the Nixon years will find this book of more interest than others. Wildes brings us behind the scenes and shares his strategies for winning the case, and illustrates yet another of Nixon's insidious actions to meddle with the judicial branch. At times, Wildes seems to be self-promoting. At other times the story gets lost in the d Interesting memoir by the lead attorney in the Lennons' immigration case. Immigration lawyers, individuals with interests in immigration law, and those who lived through the Nixon years will find this book of more interest than others. Wildes brings us behind the scenes and shares his strategies for winning the case, and illustrates yet another of Nixon's insidious actions to meddle with the judicial branch. At times, Wildes seems to be self-promoting. At other times the story gets lost in the details; I found myself skipping through some of the chapters to get to the point. Nevertheless, this personal recounting of the case is interesting in no small part because of the Lennons' notoriety.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Badgley

    One of the best books I have read about Lennon's legal battle to stay in the U.S. One of the best books I have read about Lennon's legal battle to stay in the U.S.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    Informative on Lennon, particularly Ono and vagaries of immigration law

  15. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    John Lennon's musical legend is known worldwide because of what he contributed to music, art and pop culture. What isn't as well known and is often glossed over in biographical details is the legend that he left in the American immigration and legal systems. In John Lennon vs. the USA reader get a first-hand account of just what Lennon's deportation case did for the future of the immigration system in the United States, told from the person that knew the case best, Leon Wildes. For fans of Lenno John Lennon's musical legend is known worldwide because of what he contributed to music, art and pop culture. What isn't as well known and is often glossed over in biographical details is the legend that he left in the American immigration and legal systems. In John Lennon vs. the USA reader get a first-hand account of just what Lennon's deportation case did for the future of the immigration system in the United States, told from the person that knew the case best, Leon Wildes. For fans of Lennon's musical side, this book offers little more than a few tidbits about Wildes' personal relationship with the Lennons. However, you do get to see that Lennon truly trusted his lawyer and would do anything for another chance to prove his case, such as signing a shopping bag full of memorabilia for a terminally ill child so his father would testify as an expert in the field of cannabis. What is really remarkable about this book is the legal case itself, regardless of how famous Wildes' clients had been. Before this case, there were secrets, instructions on how to determine a non-priority case hidden from the public, and an interference from American politics like no other. It is a truly scary thought that a paranoid politician with power could try and do so much to deport a musician who, while on American soil, had First Amendment rights and chose to use them. The case also led to many firsts, including utilizing the Freedom of Information Act and leaving a legal legacy to those today who find themselves on the brink of deportation for various reasons. That is why the book seems timely, even if it is talking about a forty-year-old case: Wildes recognized that there were many immigrants, legal and illegal, that were being ignored or even protected when they should have been deported because of criminal acts, while all Lennon was trying to do was live his life in New York City and help find his wife's first child. This is the kind of book that gives hope to immigrants fighting to stay in the country when they have a case to do so, and it also offers American citizens a glimpse at how lucky they are to have the rights and privileges granted to them because of where they were born—a book that should be required reading for anyone entering immigration law. *Received a copy of this book through NetGalley

  16. 5 out of 5

    Silvia Dominguez

    After granting permission to visit America, with no warning the government sent a notice scheduling John Lennon and Yoko Ono to appear in deportation proceedings. In a country of free speech, the land of the free, an outstanding artist and pacifist might be subject to deportation! The book is the story of the immigration case and why John Lennon was ineligible to stay in the United States. The Nixon Administration and the INS figured that the celebrity couple would be trouble, so they would be gon After granting permission to visit America, with no warning the government sent a notice scheduling John Lennon and Yoko Ono to appear in deportation proceedings. In a country of free speech, the land of the free, an outstanding artist and pacifist might be subject to deportation! The book is the story of the immigration case and why John Lennon was ineligible to stay in the United States. The Nixon Administration and the INS figured that the celebrity couple would be trouble, so they would be gone. As a fan of The Beatles and as court interpreter student I found Leon Wildes writing fascinating. I've learnt immigration proceedings and legal terminology, this could be a bit overwhelming for some readers because of the amount of legal stuff involved here., but it is very well explained. As I said, to me was fascinating. I found out more about Yoko's art and her message that was simply seek love and peace. And I also learnt how a former Beatle helped shape immigration policy. I recommend this book to everybody. It's excellent. Thanks to the publisher and Net Galley for a free copy of this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Blankfein

    Lawyer Leon Wildes spent more than four years battling Nixon,and the government agencies he influenced to keep John Lennon and Yoko Ono in this country. Due to Lennon's outspoken views on the current US politics of the time, the US government and Nixon's cronies in Washington had him followed by the FBI, his phones tapped and roadblocks put up preventing him from becoming a citizen. Leon Wildes tells the story of how he fought deportation for the couple and exposed the governments unlawful effor Lawyer Leon Wildes spent more than four years battling Nixon,and the government agencies he influenced to keep John Lennon and Yoko Ono in this country. Due to Lennon's outspoken views on the current US politics of the time, the US government and Nixon's cronies in Washington had him followed by the FBI, his phones tapped and roadblocks put up preventing him from becoming a citizen. Leon Wildes tells the story of how he fought deportation for the couple and exposed the governments unlawful effort to send Lennon back to England. Frightening to see how corrupt government officials can misguide civil servants down the line to influence law and jeopardize protection of human rights. John Lennon was well worth fighting for but Leon Wildes is a hero.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sam Motes

    Such a bitter battle to destroy an artist deemed a threat by the sitting president. Certainly a history that makes John Lennon all the more real and important to the xenophobic battles of today’s political climate.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    Interesting story 2.5 stars but a bit too long.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mikal Lambert

  21. 4 out of 5

    John

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ron Lahner

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dan Ream

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chuck Stearns

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Liston

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rob Geurtsen

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chadley

  30. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Spears

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