As all Beatles fans will know, we have been waiting for the recently released first volume of Mark Lewisohn's biographical trilogy of the Beatles for ten years. Having recently released Tune In, he has now published an extended two volume set of the first book. I have read the kindle edition of this book, but I will try to explain what the extended version offers that is different from the single volume and, hopefully help you decide which edition you wish to read (if not both, as I did).
The one volume Tune In has the book split into the following headings: Introduction and Prologue (the same in both editions), Old Before Our Birth, Year 1: 1958, Year 2: 1959, Year 3: 1960, Year 4: 1961 and Year 5: 1962. This first volume of the two book set takes the story only to 1960 - in this first volume the end of 1960 ends at loc 8733. The first volume of this two volume set splits the chapters into : Introduction and Prologue, 1845-1939: Looking Back, Shapes of Things to Come (a far extended, 2 chapter, look at their family history and Liverpool in wartime), 1939 - 1955 (seven chapters of childhood and schooldays and far extended from the original `Old Before Our Birth' section on family history and childhood). 1956 Rock! (2 chapters on the skiffle boom and early discovery of rock and roll), 1957: Old Before Our Birth (3 chapters on that momentous year when Lennon and McCartney met "He'll get you into trouble son..."), Year 1: 1958: Thinking of Linking (2 chapters on those early days, "Where we going, Johnny?!"), Year 2: 1959: Three Cool Cats (2 chapters dealing with the Casbah, etc) and Year 3: 1960: Competence, Confidence and Continuity (amongst other things, covers the trip to Scotland with Johnny Gentle and heading for Hamburg).
The end of these chapters (not counting notes, etc) ends at loc 15840. Sadly, page numbers are not shown in this book, but if you consider that the original book ended 1960 at 8733 and this book finishes the same period at 15840, then that is 7107 extra - almost double the same amount of text to cover the same period. The illustrations section is also extended and, to be honest, is worth looking at simply to see the amazing photograph of George's maternal grandfather, John French, who is the absolute spitting image of George! Well, rather, George was the spitting image of him, but I hope that Olivia and Dhani see this, as it is really astounding. Mark Lewisohn's ability to discover these unseen gems are why this book stands head and shoulders above any other biography so far.
Knowing you have more text for the same period is one thing - the question you are probably asking is whether it is worth reading. That really depends on whether you need to know that John Lennon scaled the heady heights (or doleful depths) of 3% in his Quarry Bank maths exam - we all know he was bright, but he certainly brought a new meaning to the phrase, " couldn't care less" - or that, when his teachers unwisely asked him to run a stall at a school fundraiser, he gleefully created vicious caricatures of his teachers, obtained some darts and charged fellow pupils to "Prick your Teacher" (he raised more money than anyone else, even when he and Pete Shotton pocketed most of it, showing that his teachers had a greater sense of humour and tolerance than he gave them credit for). In all honesty, if the one volume book was criticised (unfairly) in national newspapers for having too much detail, then this is full of the obsessive detail fans love.
One of the really interesting, if not unique, things about the Beatles story is how the timing of things always worked out - in Lewisohn's words, the timing was "always perfect". If you were writing this story as a fiction, you seriously could not make it up. For example, Ivan Vaughan, the school friend who introduced Paul to John, only met him because his parents was so upset at John's disrupting their son's education that they vowed he would not attend the same secondary school as him. Consequently, Ivan went to the Liverpool Institute, rather than the more local grammar, Quarry Bank, became friends with Paul and later introduced him to John. It was not the first, or last, time a parent would sense danger and take a dislike to John - Paul's father was less than enamoured...
Mark Lewisohn knows that Beatles fans are quite happy to read about their heroes in immense detail and, in this two volume edition, he certainly gives us this. At all times he cleverly tells the story not only of the four Beatles, but also of the other important members of the story. It isn't overdone, but he always informs us what other members were doing when, for example, Ringo got his first job - or we learn that when Larry Parnes was signing Tommy Steele to a very unfair management contract (while George Martin didn't sign him and missed the next "big thing"), Brian Epstein had just started at RADA. He puts their life in context and discusses the music they heard, their influences and important events.
In reality, he paints a picture of those times which it would be hard to beat. Even reading the early pages about Irish immigrants fleeing famine and their suffering and poverty; the lists of babies born and then dead within weeks or months, shows us where the Beatles (three of them, anyway) came from. When one of them starts school or visits a location previously mentioned, Lewisohn will point out that a relative of one of them lived nearby or weave the strands of the story deftly together so that we know where we are and the context of events. When John or Paul say in later interviews how they wanted, above all, to be rich, or you read of Ringo wanting a job simply to get the uniform (and being cheated by getting only the cap) or of George's mother bemoaning the level of violence and vandalism where they lived, you understand exactly where they started and how little all their contemporaries had. Clothes, for instance, were in such short supply that both John and Paul wore their school uniforms on holiday and George's mother had to cut down his father's trousers to fit him. Ringo went to the fairground to hear rock and roll records; records were just too expensive and hard to get hold of.
So, should you buy this two volume set? Does the first volume offer you anything else? In all honesty, if you have never read a biography of the Beatles before and if you are considering which of the new Mark Lewisohn books to buy, then I would say just get the single "Tune In". It's brilliant, as detailed as you need - more detailed than the casual fan will probably want in fact - and wonderfully written. If, however, like me, you have read everything on the Beatles - including the single book "Tune In" - and yet still crave more, then you will love this. The first volume of this two volume set has immense depth to it, giving detailed historical background, more reminiscences from neighbours, school friends and colleagues, and is brilliantly written. I am looking forward to reading Vol 2 The Beatles - All These Years - Extended Special Edition: Part Two: Volume One: Tune In of this extended two volume edition next, which covers the years 1961 and 1962 and takes the Beatles to the cusp of success, with a record contract and ready to take over the world. Let's hope we don't have to wait another ten years for the next book in the series. Meanwhile, whichever edition of this book you choose, I am sure that you will enjoy it and, even if like me you have already read hundreds of books about them, you will learn something new.
on 21 December 2013
Seems there is a bit of confusion about what this extended edition is all about? Well, as for the contents it really is the best story and the most complete history of The Beatles. The normal edition is really first class for a casual/intermediate fan. For those after a bit extra, this really is a labour of love. This edition places things in an extra cultural & social context. As well as giving names & additional information of extra people & places surrounding a Beatles event. Which i guess would really be only of interest to the fan that needs to know everything.
Now a bit of confusion about the reprinting of this special edition. The real reason for this reprint was a bit of an error. The very first issues were printed on the wrong paper. Hence some reviews over the quality of this item, saying the quality was under par. Mine was damaged & had to go back, i noticed my replacement, was on much higher quality paper. The first ones may suffer from foxing & aging due to the very porous paper quality. So it seems a bit of a mess up over the paper quality ... Hence a reprint was needed.
Overall it doesn't matter, it all depends on how many will be produced! If after this run they stop, all of them will be a nice investment, as these editions really are the last word. If you still look around you can pick them up at just under £70 ... At this price whatever edition is a bargain. Check in the reviews for the link & let's hope that price is still going!
Good luck everyone & just enjoy whatever edition you have, it really is an amazing piece of work. The real story of The Beatles, it'll be like you are there, with all that detail! Enjoy!
on 2 December 2013
After buying both editions of this book my friend Charlie expressed doubts to me on getting the extended version becxause of a couple of derogatory reviews here on Amazon. I explained that, as he was as passionate about the Beatles as I am, he would have to get the larger copy.
Following the excellent review by S Riaz I am unable to add to that critique. But I intend to address the one star comments posted here.
One of them claims to be a Beatles' fan but if this is the case why gripe about the extra text? If you don't want to know all there is to know about the band then don't buy it. There are hundreds of books out there on the subject that cover the basics and should suffice. There are edven books by distinguished authors who profess to be "intimate" with the Beatles who publish the bare bones of their story. Of course, they do include errors, incorrect facts and absolute untruths. A particular author, who shall remain nameless, issued a book in the eighties about the Beatles and reissued it as a revised and updated book some 22 years later still choosing to include the numerous errors made in the previous version.
So, If you do want all thje facts, this book is the one to buy. Mark Lewisohn is widely recognised as the leading authority on the Beatles' history and you can trust his accuraty on the subject. He will not flannel you or mislead. He spent ten years researching this book, speaking to people who were part of the story and using reputable quotes from other sources. On every page you will uncover at least one fact that you did not know before. Surely this is what a book is read for; the information.
Okay, no invites to Paul's house are include but you will enter the real world of the Beatles as it happened and the extended version has pictures extra to the ones in the shorter edition which will help obtain a sense of how it was back in those days. Lewisohn transports you back there, he really does.
Now Charlie is happy about purchasing the extended version and we both think that the people who slated the book without actually reading it are quite sad. How do you do that when you don't know what the content is?
As for the price and packaging, i got my copy from hive.com for £67.99 and it arrived by courier in a solid outer box with extra padding wrapper around the book. It was well protected and arrived in perfect condition.
If you are a true Beatles fan then this book is the one to have.
on 16 November 2013
Just received my copy of this through the post this morning, and although I have only flicked through it so far I have to say it is a lovely looking work. Housed in a box that measures 177mm wide, by 243mm in height, and 120mm in depth. Not too tall to go on a shelf, this is a nice size for me. Inside is two lovely Hardback books. They are bound in a kind of material, for want of a better word, with no dust-jacket. Vol.1 is Grey, Vol.2 Red. Each has a bookmark ribbon. There are just under 1700 pages, although about 250 (In total over the two volumes) are reference notes and Credits at the back of the books. Not as many photo's as I thought there would be, but then this is the 'Definitive' History on The Beatles by the worlds greatest Beatles brain, Mark Lewisohn, so the reason your buying this is not to look at pictures (there are many books for that) but to read it, and devour every snippet of info you can on the best band there has ever, and will ever be. Cant wait to get stuck in. This is a must have!!!
It's somehow superfluous to comment on this book as so many have gone before. Let's just say it is the most authoritative book ever written on the Beatles and this extended version is a monumental tribute to the minutiae of the Fab Four. I best John Lennon and Paul Macca never dreamed that their lives would be dissected to this degree. If you are a Beatle fan this is an absolute must. Can't wait for Lewisohn's next Volume
The Kindle edition of `The Beatles - All These Years - Extended Special Edition: Part One: Volume One: by Mark Lewisohn is my most expensive book download to date (£29.99 at the time of purchase) and it is unlikely to be exceeded (apart from the fact that I have already downloaded the second part The Beatles - All These Years - Extended Special Edition: Part Two: Volume One: Tune In at an equivalent price) ...and I will explain my reasons later.
Bearing in mind that the cost of the book is high to begin with, the addition of VAT adds to the overall cost quite considerably. (I won't preach unduly here, as I am more concerned about reviewing the book, in this report, but I really do believe that it is absurd that VAT is zero rated in the UK for printed books, but chargeable against their digital equivalents, especially when there are national issues over young people's attitudes to reading.)
Having just completed reading Part One of Volume One, I will now enlarge upon why I, personally, found it to be a particularly good purchase, even at such a high price.
First of all- and most importantly, much of the detail described in Volume One : Part One relates to a time, a place and a musical evolution that is familiar to me, as it refers to places and situations I know well, at a time when I knew them and I was also privileged enough to see the Beatles performing live in the early days of their UK success. Others who do not remember these times may feel that the book contains more detail than they require.
References are made to the musical influences of the Beatles, most of which I can still recall for myself and they bring back many memories. Those who do not recall or have knowledge of these may find reference to them rather tedious.
Having previously read just about every book available on the subject of the Beatles, I would regard this as the definitive version.
It contains so much detail, including interviews with previously obscure characters, whose personas have been elaborated on to such a great extent that we feel we know them well and therefore have a greater perception of the manner in which they interacted with (and in some cases influenced, quite significantly) the Beatles. For instance, Allan Williams, their Liverpool-based manager, who first sent them to Hamburg, really must have a serious claim to enhancing their career, if only for the fact that this resulted in a serious work ethic which assisted their later evolution. (It really must be said that Allan Williams, bearing in mind the detailed manner in which his influence on the Beatles, in these early days, is depicted in this section of the book, is worth an Oscar winning screenplay, especially when one considers the intrigues and entrepreneurial escapades which resulted from this, rather eccentric character's early involvement in the group's success.)
It must, however, also be added, that without the later influences of Brian Epstein and George Martin (and they have not yet become involved with the group in Part One of Volume One), the Beatles would have been unlikely to have been catapulted from being the average musicians they probably were in the pre-Hamburg days to being the outstanding style leaders of their generation and beyond, that they later became.
To sum up: The Extended Special Edition Part One of Volume One is a great read for those who remember the times described in the book or for those who have a desire to establish as much as they can about the Beatles and they will find that it is worth every penny. The photographic content is also most fascinating, although I am unsure as to what aspects are specific only to the extended edition. However those who do not require the detail would probably prefer to purchase the Standard Edition, at a lesser price, as it will equally serve their purposes well.
on 9 January 2014
This is the book that Beatles fans have been waiting for. All of Mark Lewisohn's trademark attributes: relentless pursuit of detail and accuracy, fairness, considered judgment, appreciation without sycophancy, are present here. The book is vastly enjoyable and readable. The considerable effort Lewisohn has made to put the Beatles in historical and cultural context pays huge dividends and makes the story, which many of us know (or think we know) so well, fresh again. For the more casual fan, the standard edition is probably adequate and, having read it first, I can say that it is itself a remarkably complete work, worthy of all the praise it has received. But there are real rewards in this extended edition for those who are interested: more context, more explanation, more insight into events and relationships. I have no negative comments about this book. Oh, I could quibble here and there with some point of interpretation but this is so excellent, and Lewisohn's honesty and integrity are so transparent on every page, that all such quibbles are pointless. This is an astounding piece of historical research and writing, entirely worthy of its great subject.
on 30 January 2015
An excellent read with huge attention to detail.
I had already read the standard version in paper form.
I give it five stars for the sheer quality of content.
I was disappointed to find the Kindle version I downloaded only gets to the end of 1960, not 1962.
A second part can be purchased (more expensively than part one).
Amazon could have been clearer about the fact that the Kindle version needs purchasing in two separate volumes.
on 2 January 2014
Thanks to you, Mr. Lewisohn, for putting this Extended Edition out there. Though I'm only about one-quarter of the way through Book One, I simply must pull myself away long enough to say how much I'm enjoying really discovering (there's no other phrase for it) the Beatles' childhoods for the first time.
Oh yeah, I've read an earlier bio or two, but this is the in-depth, the real close look, that I've never found before; and, did I mention the skill and talent with which this information is presented?
But what really made me finally write this brief review (I try to shy away from these online reviews): each paragraph, it seems, has yet another small but interesting fact of these individual 4 lives......and these kids are.....well, they're so damned sweet, and funny, and yes, cheeky! I find myself laughing over and over.
I feel that, for the first time, I am really finding out who these people were.
I know that the rest of this first volume will be more of the same.
Again, thanks, Mr. Lewisohn, for fleshing out these little kids' lives. They were so very human, so very young, and so very driven, even at that young stage of the game.
on 27 November 2013
First, I want to simply say that the book is fantastic.
The deluxe edition is presented very nicely in a slip case that has another box top that covers over the two
books housed in the slip case. All in all, a very well done work of art.
The pages just fly by, as you get engulfed in all things Beatles!
Mark has done an awesome job of obtaining incredible detailed information that is absolutely amazing.
Just a really super job from what I have read so far. Grade A+
Now the bad part....
AmazonUK completely ruined my buying experience... and box set.
After waiting nearly two months for the deluxe extended issue, the books arrived in a shipping box
that was crushed, dented, and partly torn open. Unbelievably the sealed books were just placed in the shipping box
with absolutely NO protection at all.... NO bubble wrap, styro peanuts, padding, etc....nothing.
As soon as I saw the condition of the shipping box, a cold fear overcame me..
The beautiful box top cover of my book set was smashed and dented on the front corners.
I then removed the shrink wrap, inspected all the corners, and proceeded to remove the box top.
There they were, two huge books. I feared to continue but went on...
The books were fine and not damaged at all. Thank The Lord.
The two books come housed in a nice slip case. Unfortunately, with all the banging and sliding around to the US
the base at the back of my slip case was split almost all the way across. Not good at all.
The more I thought about it the hotter I got.
I mean the front of the box set has pushes and dents.
And the other part of the package, the slip case is split across the bottom.
They would not just send or exchange the box problem....
Which left me with gambling to possibly get an even worse set.
The rep offered a small partial refund... I had started reading the book and I would
have to pay to send it back, not to mention waiting another month.
So, after three - four hours of emails and live chat, I am keeping the dang thing.
AmazonUS uses bubble wrap pillow like things on every order. I don't understand what kind of person
puts the deluxe extended issue in a box with NO protection or padding ? They do.