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How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin: The Untold Story of a Noisy Revolution Hardcover – April 23, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Who really tore down the Iron Curtain? British documentarian Woodhead suggests it may have been John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Woodhead was a young researcher when he led a Liverpool TV crew into the Cavern Club to film the Beatles for the first time. He had eavesdropped on Soviet and East German pilots from West Germany during 1950s military service, so when Gorbachev’s liberalization brought Soviet tourists west who proclaimed the Beatles had freed their minds, Woodhead wanted to know more. This book is the product of many trips to the USSR and, later, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, and encounters and interviews with people, young and old, in the mainstream and far outside it, all of whom viewed the Beatles as their saviors. In a USSR ruled by fear and belief, contemporaries told Woodhead, the Beatles dissolved their fear and undermined their political faith. Sadly, this celebration of the joy and freedom the Beatles brought to the Khrushchev-era USSR closes with Woodhead’s Russian friends organizing against the 2012 prosecution of Pussy Riot for all-too-familiar cultural “crimes.” --Mary Carroll

Review

“Leslie Woodhead has given us a priceless addition to Beatle literature—and a beautifully observed and witty insight into the cultural underbelly of the Soviet Union.”—Paul Greengrass, director of The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, United 93 and Green Zone

 
“How the Beatles really did come and keep their comrades warm … a fascinating lost chapter In their history.”—Philip Norman, author of John Lennon: A Life and Mick Jagger
 
"Forget the triumph of market capitalism. According to Leslie Woodhead, it was the subversive power of art and cultural connection that stoked the fires of freedom and popular revolution, which ultimately brought down the Iron Curtain. A deliciously appealing premise!"—Helena Kennedy QC, President of the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University
 
“Fine on-the-ground reporting here … [A] worthwhile addition to the Beatles bookshelf.”—Kirkus Reviews
"Did the Fab Four bring down the Soviet Empire single-handed? It’s a wonderful thought … Woodhead’s book is rather more about Russia than it is about The Beatles, but it’s also about the most socialist of concepts, historical inevitability … In this story the true believers won, and they still believe. You’ll read the book with a smile on your face, and a song–possibly written by Lennon and McCartney–in your heart"—Daily Mail (UK)
 
"In 1962, as a young TV producer, Leslie Woodhead made a short film at Liverpool’s Cavern Club about a local pop group who had caught his eye. The Beatles, of course, went on to conquer the musical world. More startlingly, according to his new book, they might also have helped demolish the vast totalitarian edifice that was the Soviet Union … Could a few three minute songs really threaten a superpower? Suddenly the claims of Woodhead’s Beatlemaniacs – the Russians for whom Lennon trumped Lenin – don’t seem quite so absurd after all"—Mail on Sunday (UK)
 
"Effervescent … This tells the remarkable story of precisely how and why Woodhead explains, 'the Beatles came to mean more, and were more important, to that generation of Soviet youth that they were here, or in America – for several reasons'"—Observer (UK)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (April 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608196143
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608196142
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,143,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Subtitled, "The Untold Story of a Noisy Revolution", this is the remarkable story of a youth revolution centred around a seemingly unquenchable passion for the Beatles. In 1962, the author was working as a young researcher for Granada television. A jazz fan, he was nevertheless looking for a local rock and roll band for a progamme, and a friend directed him to a cellar in Mathew Street, where he filmed the famous clip of the Beatles playing at the Cavern ('Some Other Guy', "We want Pete!" - yes, that one). Without having any real fondness for rock and roll before, he was, like countless others before and since, interested enough in the band to see other concerts and helped arrange their first live spot on Granada television. By the end of that year they had their first single out, by the end of the following year Beatlemania had begun and by the year after that, they had more or less conquered the whole world. Except in the Soviet Union, where they were considered a bad influence and banned by the powers in charge. Years later, Leslie Woodhead found himself filming documentaries in Russia and he was fascinated by the loyal legion of underground fans of those four boys from Liverpool. This then, is the story of the Soviet Union's love affair with the Beatles.

"They changed everything," asserts Stas Namin, a Russian musician. "They were very dangerous for the regime, because (the leaders) knew the Beatles gave Beatles kids some kind of freedom inside." As well as discussing the fans and the obsessive lengths they went to in order to hear the Beatles music (flexi discs produced on x-rays for example and sold on street corners, with the risk of arrest if caught) this is also a history of the cultural musical assault from the West.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L Shannon on June 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
well written, entertaining. a great gift for anyone interested in the great music of the sixties!!! I totally recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Betty H. Sheehan on July 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What can I say? My husband loves anything about the Beatles. Most of the books share the same stories but my husband was very impressed with the history that was attached with this one.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. P. Jestic on July 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
...so much as a book about the Russians who loved the Beatles, the various Russian rock & roll artists they spawned, and the culture that was often driven underground or persecuted, finally splitting open the Iron Curtain. Personally, I loved the insight into life in Russia...the culture...the history lesson. The author's writing style is casual, conversational, non-obtrusive. That said, the first 60 pages or so involves a lengthy history of the jazz influence in Russia prior to 1960, making me wonder if I'd been mislead. Sixty pages is quite a sidetrack. The book itself is more of a sociological study of (Western) music's influence on a closed/repressive society than a revealing of inside Beatle information. Around pg 164 (60% through the book), I quit on it; didn't seem to be covering any new ground and was getting repetitious.
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