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The Beatles: The Biography Paperback – Bargain Price, October 10, 2006

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Paperback, Bargain Price, October 10, 2006
$9.22 $1.61

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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. With this massive opus, veteran music journalist Spitz (Dylan: A Biography) tells the definitive story of the band that sparked a cultural revolution. Calling on books, articles, radio programs and primary interviews, Spitz follows the band from each member's family origins in working-class Liverpool to the band's agonizing final days. Spitz's unflinching biography reveals that not only did the Beatles pioneer a new era of rock but they also were on the cutting edge of rock star excess, from their 1961 amphetamine-fueled sets in the clubs of Hamburg to their eventual appetites for stronger drugs, including marijuana, LSD, cocaine and, eventually for John Lennon, heroin. Sex was also part of the equation; in 1962, when the band cut its first audition for Sir George Martin, all four members had a venereal disease, and both John's and Paul McCartney's girlfriends were pregnant. Spitz details the tangled web of bad business deals that flowed from novice manager Brian Epstein (though the heavily conflicted Epstein can be forgiven since he was in uncharted territory). Although this is a hefty volume steeped in research, Spitz writes economically, and with flair, letting the facts and characters speak for themselves. In doing so, he captures an ironic sadness that accompanied the Beatles' runaway success—how their dreams of stardom, once realized, became a prison, forcing the band to spend large parts of their youth in hotel rooms to avoid mobs and to stage elaborate escapes from literally life-threatening situations after appearances. As with all great history writing, Spitz both captures a moment in time and humanizes his subjects. While some will blanch at the unsettling dark sides of the Beatles, most will come to appreciate the band even more for knowing the incredible personal odysseys they endured. 32 pages of b&w photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Edited down from a staggering 2,700 pages, The Beatles took eight years of research and writing. But with some 500 books chronicling their lives, loves, and legacy, one would think The Beatles’ story had been adequately told. Adequate isn’t authoritative, however, and most critics believe that Spitz, a former manager for Bruce Springsteen and author of Dylan: The Biography, has synthesized his subject masterfully. Though some would prefer hagiography (Charles Taylor of Newsday seems particularly aggrieved the biography doesn’t live up to the Beatles’ artistic standard—but what has?), the general consensus is that if it’s pop-culture history you desire, The Beatles tops the charts.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 992 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (October 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316013315
  • ASIN: B000Y8Y1MG
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (299 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,167,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

102 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Burns VINE VOICE on May 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Is the world ready for a thousand-page critical history of the boys from Liverpool? The answer is a resounding yes, because Bob Spitz addressed this project with the thoroughness of a presidential biography. Moreover, he is a magnificent story teller, and even at its length this work is a page turner. The young reader will find this a remarkable tale of a defining moment in the entertainment industry, while old "Uncle Alberts" like myself will remember the days when we all hacked around on guitars to get that opening chord to "Hard Day's Night," George Harrison's G7 with an added ninth and a suspended fourth, as the author explains. [502] So what can the reader expect to learn from this compelling tale of the foursome?

The British Setting. All four Beatles grew up in a country recovering from war, in an industrial port town [Liverpool], where the natives called themselves "Scousers" and nurtured a long-standing inferiority complex regarding London and England's upper class. The government owned radio station, the BBC, effectively embargoed the emerging US rock music as substandard. Teenagers like John Lennon devoured American artists like Elvis and the Everly Brothers from a rogue radio station in Luxembourg, of all places, while reveling in England's youth pop of the time, Skiffle.

The Lennon-McCartney Brotherhood. Spitz is masterful in describing the twelve year relationship of the two, who met at roughly the age of 17. They became like brothers, though in the mold of Esau and Jacob, perhaps. Much has been written of their composing mastery, but Spitz documents just how prolific and spontaneous they actually were. What is equally surprising is how they composed during periods of terrible strains in their relationships.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Antoine Boisvert on November 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The uproar among Beatles fans about this book suprises me, but it probably shouldn't. It reminds me of Ayatollah Khomenei's reaction to the Satanic Verses: anything short of hagiography is seen as vicious, and anything short of factual perfection is seen as unforgivable sloppiness. It is true that the photo captions are inaccurate to the point of perversity (the editor of these sections had clearly never even read Spitz's text, where the same mistakes are not repeated). The book also bears the scars of ruthless editing to get it down from a reputed 2700pp to a mere 850. As a result of this, sometimes things that seem to be foreshadowed (for instance, the Beatles first encounter with the Animals) never actually appear.

Despite an earlier comment, I would say that Spitz spends the most time on the Fabs early career, and tries to spend as little time as possible on the painful details of their last two or three years together. Despite another earlier comment that the book is a love-letter to Paul and a character assassination of John, I must respectfully disagree. Neither man emerges from Spitz's book as an especially nice person, but I found the portrait of John elicited more sympathy. Maybe it was just easier to relate to John's way of dealing with his problems, than it was McCartney's relentless perfectionism and bossiness. Ringo comes off very well, and George gets high marks for his spiritual development. What really brings the book through is the storytelling. This book is about the men, not the music, insofar as it is possible to separate them. It may not be THE book on the fabs for all time, but it is a pretty good one for right now.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Pedoto on November 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The wonderful Arab expression, the dogs bark but the caravan moves on, certainly applies to the many derisive and dismissive negative reviews of Bob Spitz' excellent new biography of the Beatles.

None of the carping on the Amazon site will seriously impact on the sales of this book, given the consistent positive reviews by professional critics in the national press. Anyone who bothers to actually pick this book up in a store and leaf through its text will see pretty quickly how shallow the criticism and complaints by previous posters are.

The jibes and nitpicking centering on photo captions in a book with 850 pages of text and over 100 pages of notes and sources should give some sense of the agenda being pursued by these fans and lay-historians of the modern rock era.

Don't be put off by these amateurish complaints.

'The Beatles. the Biography' is an outstanding piece of work, scrupulously sourced, that took over seven years to produce. There is nothing in its text that feels rushed at all. It is the most complete story of this band to date, period. It is not intended as a dissection/examination of their songs -- that's material that has been covered well by numerous other authors.

This book is, as stated on the dust jacket, the biography of the group. There is material contained here that has never been explored in this detail, some from sources that have never before been available. This is one of a small handful of works on the Beatles that will stand the test of time.

If you're looking for glossy fan semi-fiction, repetition of tall tales and legends and an attitude of worship, this is certainly not the book for you.
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