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Shout!: the Beatles in Their Generation Paperback – 26 Nov 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 414 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall & IBD; 2nd edition edition (26 Nov. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684830671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684830674
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 3 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,614,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip Norman was born in London and brought up on the Isle of Wight. He joined the Sunday Times at the age of twenty-two, soon gaining a reputation as Atticus columnist and for his profiles of figures as diverse as Elizabeth Taylor, P. G. Wodehouse, Little Richard and Colonel Gaddafi. In 1981 he published SHOUT!, a ground-breaking biography of the Beatles that was a bestseller in both Britain and the US. He has also written the definitive lives of Sir Elton John and Buddy Holly.
His journalism has been published in three collections, THE ROAD GOES ON FOREVER, TILT THE HOURGLASS AND BEGIN AGAIN, and THE AGE OF PARODY. He is married with a daughter and lives in London.

Product Description


A fresh look at the story of the Beatles' rise to success and the people who helped them develop their music, image, and style.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
JOHN LENNON was born on October 9, 1940, during one of the fiercest night raids by Hitler's Luftwaffe on Liverpool. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Beatles fans beware: "Shout!" is a 400 page fan letter to John Lennon in which Paul McCartney is cast as Lord Voldemort. Poor old George and Ringo scarcely get a look in.

Norman's argument is that the Fab Four consisted of one musical lightweight plus two lucky bit-part players, all of whom rode to success on the back of John Lennon's genius. Yoko aside, I can't think of anyone else who would agree with this; for most people, the Beatles were a team (four corners of a square, as McCartney calls them) and provided the ultimate musical proof of that old adage about the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Perhaps Norman's view is partly a result of timing ("Shout!" was first published in the immediate aftermath of Lennon's death) but whatever the reason, his claim that Lennon was three-quarters of the band means that "Shout!" gets off on the wrong foot from the very start.

Unfortunately, it doesn't get any better when it comes to the music. The Beatles were a phenomenon in many ways - socially, culturally, commercially - but the thing that made them famous was their songs; they were revolutionary at the time and they still sell by the million today. But Norman makes no attempt at musical analysis (except, of course, to claim that Lennon's songs are all much better than McCartney's), fails to examine how their songwriting developed from "Please Please Me" to "Abbey Road" in just six and a half years and offers no explanation for why the Beatles' music has been so popular for so long. This leaves a huge gap at the heart of this book.

The frustrating thing is that Norman is clearly a good writer.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By G Hastie on 6 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
...don't bother reading Philip Norman, a worthy Sunday Times journalist self-appointed as a rock scribe. I opened his much-vaunted Lennon tome at a page where Phil Spector is described as a Motown producer! I read Shout when it was first published and at the time of relatively few Beatle books it more or less sufficed. Perhaps the best thing about is its title - smart marketing. The updated edition contains a particularly snide summing-down of George Harrison as artist and person, and in today's Sunday Times he goes further, describing him as a mantra-chanting, misanthropic sex-addict. Even if this were true, there's no way Norman could begin to comprehend George's contribution as a musician, because he hasn't a clue about music, nor, it would seem by the Spector/Motown nonsense, much real interest in it - like too many journalists what he's really into is the gossip. I love John Lennon, in spite of the numerous tales of appalling behaviour, but The Beatles were above all a great band - all four were outstanding in their different ways. For my money the best book by far is Ian MacDonald's Revolution in the Head, which provides almost as much insight into the Fabs as people as it illuminates the music - and much more.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Wakefield, 2011 on 10 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is the granddaddy of bad Beatles biogs. Published in the immediate aftermath of John Lennon's murder, it initiated the fundamentally wrong-headed view that John was the dominant talent in the band. Norman clearly has an agenda against McCartney and cannot resist taking a dig at him at every opportunity - Paul is given the doubt of every benefit. As for George and Ringo, both are summarily dismissed, the former as an 'average guitarist' who 'got lucky', the latter as a loveable idiot. In truth, though, both are given short space by Norman, who clearly feels that Lennon was the class act and that McCartney cramped his style.

So far, so bad. But Norman has 'updated' this piece of Sunday Times style journalism with a postcript, where we learn that John's post-Beatles career was a fairy-tale of loving marriage, househusbandry and baking bread: the view propagated by Yoko Ono, whom Norman cleary wants to keep on the right side of (this whole book might as well have been ghost-written by Norman on her behalf), while Paul, George and Ringo quickly slipped into well-heeled mediocrity. The postcript on McCartney, in particular, represents one of the most mean-spirited things ever written about anyone anywhere.

In conclusion: you'll probably enjoy this if you're a 'John was s saint' delusional fantasist, but if you want a balanced picture of the Beatles, you'll (still) have to turn to Hunter Davies' forty-two year old 'authorised' biography, which - for all its many flaws - does attempt an honest and fair look at its subject.

The one star is for Norman's commentary on the affairs of Apple, which manages to reduced this labrynthine and forbidding subject to manageable proportions - though in this he has recently been superseded by Peter Doggett's (much better) book on the subject.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kelvin Dickinson VINE VOICE on 29 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
I didn't expect SHOUT! to be the best book I've ever read about the THE BEATLES - but in many ways it is (and I've read quite a few over the years). The breathtaking detail, capturing the era in which Beatlemania dominated the world, places the reader right there in the centre of it all - a close observer of the best, and also the worst, of those tumultuous times. But it isn't perfect. For me, JOHN LENNON and PAUL McCARTNEY were absolute straight-down-the-line equals in their respective abilities as songwriters. And, crucially, each of the four lived the equivalent of several lifetimes between 1962-70, so who can blame any of them for having said or done stupid things in the midst of it all and beyond? I think if author PHILIP NORMAN revists SHOUT! for a second revised update, he'll tone down - without removing, I'm not suggesting that - some of the more 'emotional' criticisms levelled at Paul McCartney in particular. Preferences aside, the negative-aspect 'Macca' of the last twenty-five years is like he is for a million different, yet largely understandable, reasons, the most obvious ones being the simplest to diagnose: insecurity and mortality, the clock can never be turned back. But the music said it all then, anyway.

Throughout that time, the Beatles' journey was indeed a long and winding road, their itinerary becoming wilder and more unpredictable as it unfolded...STAR CLUB, CAVERN, BRIAN EPSTEIN, GEORGE MARTIN, M.B.E., ED SULLIVAN, BIGGER THAN JESUS, IMELDA MARCOS, SERGEANT PEPPER, SUMMER OF LOVE, MAHARISHI, APPLE, YOKO ONO, LET IT BE...and yet, with hindsight, it's still possible to trace unmistakable fracture-lines in the order and chaos of events held together, paradoxically, by the inextricable hand of fate. The highs and the lows, in every conceivable sense. And those unforgettable others, yet to come.

If you can get over the odd jarring, marginally detrimental, bias then this is a major achievement.

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