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4.6 out of 5 stars38
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 7 October 2011
I have many Beatles books. It's hard to say what my favourites have been as they all serve different purposes really. Some focus on the songs (Revolution in the Head, Ian MacDonald), some on the insider's perspectives (Magical Mystery Tours, Tony Bramwell), some are intelligent accounts of the complex business wranglings and the fraught relationships between the band (The Love You Make, Pete Doggett). And then some are more personal, shedding light on the Fab's own perspectives of life inside the Beatle bubble. The gorgeous Anthology Hardback set a high standard, with it's beautiful photos, transcripts of interviews and recollections by the Beatles themselves, and mixture of personal handwritten notes and letters, and photos taken by the Beatles themselves.

I was hoping this hardback would be of the same standard. I have yet to see the accompanying DVD, but having now had a good weekend to look through this book, I feel it to be a bit unsubstantial and lightweight. It certainly doesn't deserve to be called a biography, because there is very little text in there. It's more of a beautifully produced picture book. Yes, there are quite a few pictures I have never seen before, and yes, the reproduction and quality is beyond reproach, especially for the price it's selling at on Amazon.

Olivia Harrison is without doubt a woman of integrity and dignity. She is the editor of sorts I presume of this book, and decided the shape and contents. However, I'm not convinced that the perspective she has gone for is all that balanced of the real man. It's hard to convey the contradictions and complexities in pictures. It seems that the DVD will better do this.

Certain periods of his life in this book are very lightly sketched. There is hardly any mention of Pattie Harrison, who was significant in that she was George's girlfriend and then wife through most of the sixties, and as I understand, was actually the bridge that led George and the rest of the Beatles towards Eastern religion in 1967, by encouraging George to attend the Maharishi talk in London. In fact the Beatles era is quite lightly skipped through. Would George have done this himself?! Quite possibly.

There are some intersting notes about Friar Park and some rare shots of George in the overgrown gardens. There are interesting personal photos of George hanging out with Dylan, the Formula One crowd and the Pythons...and quite a few serene shots of George in India, in the mid seventies and beyond.

I'd have liked to have seen more photos of George and Olivia together too, particularly a few of their courtship days. She is the quiet one's quiet wife here - I'd have liked her to have said more about her time with George here really, but she says in just a few paragraphs at the end of the book that 'Knowing how reluctant (George) was to talk about himself led me to illustrate his years mostly in pictures'. So in some ways the lack of an ego, the absence of a personal narrator, is quite appropriate I guess.

Four stars for a well produced pictorial biography. Go elsewhere for the finer detail!
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This is a beautiful book. It's a weighty tome, with thick, high quality pages containing beautiful photographs, many of which are previously unseen. It's more a coffee table book than a serious academic volume, but the written content itself is all fantastic - some lovely andecdotes from those who knew and loved George. It's the perfect accompaniment to George Harrison - Living in the Material World (Deluxe Edition) [Blu-ray] or even to just George Harrison - Living in the Material World [Blu-ray] or George Harrison - Living in the Material World [DVD] alone. A must have for anyone with even a passing interest in George Harrison, and possibly the most beautiful and iconic front cover I have ever seen.
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on 1 November 2011
This is a must see for fans of the Beatles in general or George in particular. The film is detailed, extensive and the interviewees are articulate. Some of the interviews have already appeared in the Anthology box set but that does not diminish the overall scope and quality of this documentary.
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on 19 May 2013
This is primarily a book of glossy photos. The accompanying text consists of relevant though shortish quotes from George, his family and his friends (mostly famous, but not all). The pictures start with George's family life in a Liverpool recovering from WW2 and then take you chronologically through the key aspects of his life (with the marked exception of his first wife; but then this book has been put together by Olivia, his second and final wife). A nice aspect of the book is that a large slice of these pictures were taken by George himself, so there are quite a few candid photos of his fellow Beatles as well as an inside view of the fame that was thrust on him. This book, along with the Scorcese film, does a great job of expanding on the rather one dimensional view of George as the Beatle's Quiet One. Clearly he was far far more than that with interests mainly in music (obviously), film, Formula 1, spirituality, gardening and (it seems) photography.
This is a lovingly put together book that anyone with an interest in the Beatles cannot fail to appreciate.
One note though: This is a book to look at rather than read. You can probably read all the text in about the time its takes to watch Scorcese's movie.
P.S. I've docked a star as the book does not (it seems to me) give as rounded a view of George as the film; whilst a great man, he was not a saint, but the book concentrates exclusively on the positives. Best to buy both the book and the film!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 29 September 2011
"I want to tell you, my head is filled with things to say." -- George Harrison, 1966

This is without a doubt the most beautiful and longest awaited biography of George Harrison to date!

As soon as this book became available, I ordered it immediately if not even sooner. I loved the previously unpublished photographs, such as that of 2-year-old George in the arms of his sister, Louise, then nearly 14. I had to smile at tween George sunning himself with family friends, father Harold Sr. and brother Peter, in or about 1954. I especially loved the picture of Louise and Harold Sr. at a dance in the late 1940s, a loving couple who literally welcomed George with love.

It was such a treat to read about various Harrison family members. It is plain and has been well documented that George was not only created by love, but was literally born into love. From 1965-1969, Louise Harrison lent her voice to a column in a newsletter in a fan club newsletter honoring her son.

Postcards George had written various friends and family members; sketches from his school workbooks all paint young George Harrison into sharper focus. As a bonus treat, readers enjoy the inclusion of quotes by various family members, such as George's sisters-in-law, brothers, fellow Beatles and sundry friends.

I have long thought George and Paul were the most interesting of the Beatles. George's love for Eastern music and his life-long bond with Ravi Shankar, whom he met in 1965 is beautifully chronicled in this book. George's home Friar Park is included, from its "evolution" to its finished state, metaphoric in that it parallels George's "evolution" to that of gardener, a passion he inherited from both Harold Sr. and Louise.

You've just got to love seeing George, then 12 astride a motorcycle labeled "43" (as in 1943, perhaps), a future Formula One enthusiast. The then-future Beatle would follow his love for "things fast," as he would later sing in his 1979 gem, "Faster." In 1963, George, then 20 had a blast go-karting with his fellow Beatles, no doubt wishing his go-kart could be driven a tad faster. George, artist extraordinare, humble gardener, author, father, husband, son, brother, uncle, complex iconic figure remained a boy at heart.

One thing I've long wanted to explore was George's Catholic roots. Louise French Harrison was Catholic and had George baptized when he was 1 month old. George's Catholic roots remained with him for his entire life. He had a beautiful statue of Blessed Mother Mary on the grounds of Friar Park. While George explored Eastern religion and philosophy, he recognized that the precepts of all faiths are very similar.

I will add that George Harrison has given the gift of his beautiful voice to many. A child with Asperger's, which is a form of autism who was a HUGE Beatles fan (George was this child's favorite) was a late talker. Upon acquiring speech, this child would let George "talk" for her, using quotes from George's songs and lines he uttered in Beatle movies to express herself. Over time, this evolved into her developing her own voice, so to speak. George Harrison's music and his natural, yet childlike grace of sorts reached countless many. He has a large following of fans with autism, as do the Beatles as a group. Beatle fans with autism is a demographic that is not rare as one might otherwise think.

This book is such a Godsend and I CAN'T WAIT for the dvd. Olivia Arias Harrison, a beautiful, gracious lady has given the world a gift that will continue to give. To make a good thing even better, she has included her input, which made this a much more effective body of work. I can never thank her enough.

This book is a MUST HAVE for all George Harrison fans. Again, this book is a gift that will keep on giving.

You will also want to read Before He Was Fab: George Harrison's First American Visit, which was co-authored by George's sister, Louise.
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on 23 September 2012
This book is the perfect companion to the DVD/Blu-ray package of the same name.

Filled with many rare photographs it is an excellent pictorial history of George's life and is excellent value over it's 400 pages.

Olivia Harrison adds a personal touch to this superb work and this is a must for any George/Beatles fan.
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on 26 December 2011
It's a beautiful book with some great photos and letters, but my main issue is the virtual omission of Patti Boyd. Patti was with George for a substantial period of his life from Beatlemania and they were originally very much in love. It was Patti who introduced George to Eastern thinking - a subject which clearly dominated Harrison' life. She also took some great pictures of George that were seen in an exhibition a few years ago that would have made a great addition to the book. Dismissing her contribution and influence to George's life is a huge error. Obviously the editor of both book and film, George's second wife Olivia, clearly has a part to play in Boyd's marginalisation which is a real shame as Patti was one of the most important figures in George's life story. And as Boyd appeared extremely briefly in the documentary, and Olivia's appearance was, by contrast, considerable, one assumes that Boyd's lack of involvement was not by choice.
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on 17 August 2013
Not a "Beatles" book, but a book about a Beatle. Lovingly done by his wife Olivia. Some great unseen photographs. Fans will love it. Nice to know all the interests and passions George had outside of music.
A great addition to my collection
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on 13 November 2011
This is a really lovely book, looks great on the coffee table.
It is well written with some great pictures.
Very good value and would make a lovely present.
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on 8 February 2012
We must be very grateful what Olivia and Dhani did with the release of this book and the blu-ray/DVD set(and recordings)under the same title. It's a true legacy of a great man in music and life, from being a Beatle up to his solo career and all what's between and after that. The book and the film give you a good impression responsable for this all. Thank you George. Thanks for being there and enjoying the lives of millions of people in the past, now and in times to come.
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