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on March 15, 2014
Lewisohn says he wanted to "...scrub what we know, or think we know, and start over..." This massive tome does just that. While some might feel bogged down by all the detail, I was fascinated by the lucky chances and parallel lives that finally intersected to make the Beatles the biggest band ever. Running from "before their time" (some background information on their families) to the last day of 1962, this large (nearly 1K pages) book made me feel I knew the entire story -- from the boys themselves, their families, their entourage, even the "little people" fans. (A bit on the book's size -- one of the few times I wished for a Kindle; this is heavy. However, since I don't know if Kindles include photos, it's paper for me.)

Two more books are in the pipeline. According to Wikipedia, "In an interview published on 28 December 2013, Lewisohn estimated that the second volume would be published in 2020 and the final volume in 2028 ('about the time he turns 70')." YIKES! Since all the old fans will be that age or older -- how big will the next ones be, when they're printed in LARGE TYPE for old eyes? :D

If you're a Beatles fan, this is a must-read.
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on July 4, 2017
I've read a lot about the Beatles... Too much, I'm sure... And this is BY FAR the best thing I've ever read on this topic.The depth of the research is astonishing, the writing is impeccable... It's simply a perfect book of its kind. I *can not wait* for the other volumes.

The only caveat to mention is that it's definitely a book for people like me... Who've read everything, and WANT to read everything. Not for the casually curious. But for those of us who care, this will certainly go down as the definitive work on the band.
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on December 24, 2013
Don't be scared off by its 800+ pages. Don't think you already know the whole story. Don't think this book will be full of boring, trivial details. Like it says on the back cover - Forget what you think you know and start over.
Other books I have read have always quickly skimmed over the years that are the focus here -- childhood through 1962 -- but this one reveals so much more than just the basic story we have all heard before. I especially enjoyed learning more about Stuart Sutcliffe -- often in his own words through letters he wrote to friends and family. You may develop a new appreciation for George and Ringo, too (Compared to John and Paul, their younger days are often ignored by other authors).
If you are looking for a little "dirt", you'll find some: If anyone's image is a little tarnished by the story told here, it is Paul. His jealously and resentment towards anyone else getting close to John was at times shocking (Poor Stu !). And John and Paul's "secret" royalties contract -- and their decision to keep George out of it -- may change the way you look at Lennon-McCartney from here on.
Overall, this was a very fair, unbiased book that I will always think of as the ultimate Beatles bio......Now we just have to wait for Volume 2 :)
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on December 28, 2013
I was 11 years old when the Beatles appeared in America. I remember it was a very dark time after the Kennedy asasination. I didn't like them at first (they were for girls, who would dance to records before school started). Me and the other guys thought that most music was just comedy ("Purple People Eater", "Yellow Polka Dot Bikini", "Please Mr. Custer",) . We thought the Beach Boys were funny and especially The Four Seasons. But when I Heard "A Hard Days Night". I thought wow, this guy is singing about going to work,and coming home to his wife! This was more than comedy, but the movie was more comedy. It still was'nt until 1968 untill I started buying the albums, first the new ones, then all the old ones. Now I am an afficiando, I've read Hunter Davies, Pete Shotton, Peter Brown and all the rest. I'm proud to own "The Recording Sessions" and "The Chronicles", but this book certainly fills in a lot of the details, some of which I'd read before, but more that I had'nt. Even though some dates and times in this volume seem to differ from those in "The Chronicles". Otherwise right on Mr. Lowisohn, can't wait for volume 2.
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on June 24, 2014
I am only three quarters of the way through this book and I have to say that it is an absolutely fascinating story of phenomena the likes of which we may never ever see again and it’s a great, great read.

These four guys from Liverpool were absolutely amazing and what they went through to get to where they are at is a journey you want to read about. It is a real page turner that’s for sure.

At just 839 pages it only takes you up to the year 1963. There is so much more to their story that is yet to be told; I just can't wait for the rest of his books to be published, they can’t come soon enough.

If you are a Beatles fan, rock fan or a historian then this book is a must read for you. I guarantee you will all have trouble putting it down.

I remain committed to the end.
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on February 23, 2014
Like many other reviewers here, I am an almost lifelong Beatles fan and have several bookshelves filled with Beatles material. I didn't think there was anything else to read about them. That is, until I started reading reviews of this book. I'm not quite halfway through the book and I am wowed. As others have said, it is well-written and well-researched from original sources, and the author has managed to dispel some of the myths that surround the Beatles without diminishing their magic. He is even-handed and has no ax to grind. Also, absent is the psychological claptrap that many Beatles bios get mired in. I am delighted to find little nuggets of information I never knew I wanted to know. For instance, when the Beatles were first being promoted in early 1964, you couldn't go into the downtown San Francisco Woolworth's without being assaulted with Beatles publicity, including a newsprint handout with the Beatles names and photographs. Whoever made up this flyer switched the names under George's and Paul's pictures and misstated Paul's last name as "McArtrey." In this book is the full Beatles origin story written by John (with George) for publication in the newspaper. The story contains the well-known "flaming pie' reference to the name's source, but it also mentions one Paul "McArtrey." The book is full of little "aha" moments like this that will delight even the most jaded Beatles fans. I hope the other two volumes come out soon. I can't wait!
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on January 15, 2016
So far so good. A monstrous tome that is the best bio I've read of the Beatles. Meticulously researched, great photos and a fantastic resource for any fan of the history of the group. I believe this will be completed in a second and possibly third volume. I'd read a few biographies in the past and was certain that the only Beatle who'd ever had a real job was George who worked as an electrician's apprentice. This book clears up the fact that all the Beatles had jobs, even John. It didn't last long and it's hard to picture him doing physical labor, but he did it to get Mimi off his back when he wanted a new guitar. He even had a job working at the airport that is now named after him. I won't spoil the details, but it's stuff like this and so much more that really puts you back into the era. Stuff you'd never imagine. Like John and Paul's reaction to people who might say, "What would your mother think?" It also made me think that from where they'd come from in Liverpool and where they'd got to in 1966, why wouldn't John casually suggest they were bigger than Jesus Christ?
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on July 1, 2014
This book upends every single Beatle biography ever written before. Imagine if Robert Caro had tackled The Beatles and you have an idea of the depths Lewisohn reaches within these pages. I have over 60 books on The Beatles, and in light of this achievement, those books are now mere collectables. I just can't say enough about the profundity of this marvelous achievement. If I seem hyperbolic, I make no apologies for my over-flowing enthusiasm; I'm just worried that Lewisohn will die before he finishes all three books.
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on April 1, 2014
Mark Lewisohn better be making those fingers fly over his keyboard right now, because Vol. II cannot come soon enough! I have been a Beatles fan since the first Ed Sullivan appearance in 1964, later that year forcing my older sister to take me along, a 7 year-old, to see A Hard Day's Night two nights in a row. The two periods of the Beatles' career that have always fascinated me most were the times playing in Hamburg - covered wonderfully in-depth in this great book - and the late 1967 early 1968 association with the Maharishi and Transcendental Meditation. Not a lot has been written on the Beatles in India and the fall out with the Maharishi, at least not in comprehensive detail as only Lewisohn can do. I hope Lewisohn covers this as thoroughly as he did the Hamburg period in the next book.
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on November 30, 2013
This book is terrific. Now I don't say that lightly. And this book is certainly not for everyone. But for some of us of a certain age, those of us who have read more books on the Beatles than we care to admit and can discuss their music and lives with a level of passion that would rival an esteemed academic, then this is the book you've been waiting for. Mr. Lewisohn has divided their story into three parts, and this first volume brings to the reader a well researched and detailed account of their youth. Even though we all know the story, it is still a fascinating and Mr. Lewisohn brings many fresh voices and perspectives into account giving the reader a true and resonating picture of who these lads were and from where they came. I suggest playing the newly released and remastered BBC collection of the Beatles while you sip a cup of tea and read Tune in. It's almost as much fun as having been there.
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