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4.6 out of 5 stars51
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on 4 September 2009
This is a 2009 update on Hunter Davies' original tome from 1968. By update, I mean that he has included the 1985 postscript and has now added some text from this year. These extra entries are a perfect complement to the 1968 book, which is reproduced as the main part of the book.

The story itself is utterly compelling even to long-standing Beatles fans like myself. I cannot read too much about this wonderful band even if I already know some of the facts. I say "some" because there is always something new to learn about them as you will find in this book. The author tells the story beautifully and breaks the chapters down into different segments (e.g. a chapter on each of the fab four and chapters on Hamburg, Beatlemania, The End Of Touring etc.). There is a certain chronology to the book without becoming the usual month-by-month tale.

I found it difficult to put this book down. Hunter Davies' style is crisp, witty but factual and lets family and friends do the 'talking' when necessary. I had an eerie feeling whilst reading this, especially the 1967/68 years when the breakup of marriages and indeed the band itself had yet to come. A great book for anyone who wishes to read the story about The Beatles, a marvellous one for fans like myself.
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VINE VOICEon 13 January 2010
This was the first book about the Beatles that I read and I would highly recommend it to anyone just starting out in the world of the Beatles. In fact I think that if you read this, then Revolution In The Head and finally You Never Give Me Your Money, in that order, you will have a good all round Beatle education; something that every music fan should aspire to!
By all means buy other books about the Beatles (I have bought tons over the years) but you don't NEED anymore than these three (IMHO).
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on 24 October 2002
Hunter Davies is a great writer who has been lucky enough to write about some fascinating subjects. But none better than the Beatles.
His research centres in 1967-8, with the Beatles at work on the White album and it's a sort of glossed picture. For example, he doesn't go into John's infidelities - he is still the family man here - nor does he divulge all he knew about Brian Epstein, though he deals with this in the add ons to a later edition.
Yet even with this, he spent such a long time with them - and they obviously like him - that you get really intimate details. He is best on John and George -I think- and finds Paul the hardest to get to grips with.
This isn't the perfect biography, as he concedes: it's a bit like he never quite got on top of the mountain of material he accumulated, but it's totally readable and rich in detail. If you are interested in the Beatles, this is a gold mine, and it catches something of the Sixties London atmosphere too.
Even more to the point, loads of great books have been written about the Beatles since, "Revolution in the Head", "Shout" etc.etc. but no one except Davies had the opportunity to get this close.
You can read Lennon interviews or the Miles book on McCartney, but they are biassed. Davies captures them as they really were in the latter stages: his portrait is both perceptive and affectionate. A terrific book.
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on 10 October 1998
Because this book was the only authorized biography ever written of The Beatles and also because it was written at the time, rather than researched & compiled years later, I felt that I could believe what I was reading. It was facsinating reading comments from John before the breakup when he still enjoyed being a Beatle, rather than the cynical type of quotes from after all the animosity came into their relationships.
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on 3 April 2014
As the authorised biography of The Beatles you'd expect Hunter Davies' account of the lives of Fab Four, from their very birth to the final breakup of the band, to be factually accurate and without the flaws that are sometimes seen in other biographies and hustled together books on the phenomenon that ended up being called Beatlemania.

Unfortunately, as Hunter Davies himself points out in the notes and additions that accompany the original biography, the story had to be approved by each individual member of The Beatles and, in one case (Brian Epstein), relatives too. So what we end up with is a heavily edited and censored account that glosses over details that others have pursued with greater in-depth investigation, notably 'You Never Give Me Your Money' by Doggett.

Also the tone of this book is lightweight, written as though it was meant for The Beatles fan club, using short sentences which sometimes makes it seem almost fictional in nature which it certainly is not. None of that detracts from the story of how each Beatle grew up, what made them the characters they were, and how they found each other by fortuitous chance.

Indeed it is the early parts of the individual stories which are the most interesting, especially as the accounts are based on extensive interviews and character drawings which you won't find in other books. Note that this latest edition keeps the original early edition text as the core of the book but surrounds it with additional notes, comments and added historical perspectives that are well worth having.

No-one interested in how The Beatles grew up and what made them what they were should be without this book. You'll need others too, particularly Lewisohn's The Complete Beatles Chronicle and Doggett's You Never Give Me Your Money, to complete the history and give more of the facts, but Hunter Davies lived through Beatlemania and was close to the Fab Four and, even though this story reads as though it's by Royal Command, you get a real feeling of how these four musicians rocked the '60s - literally.
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on 26 February 1999
This book is the first Beatle biography that I read ( the "only authorized biography of the Beatles" subtitle catching my attention). I must say, all of the ones I have read since have dissapointed me compared to this book. Its awesome!! At first, the author talks about himself to establish his credibility, and its worth it. He talked to each of the Beatles privately and spent several days in each of their homes, and stayed in contact with them after the break up. The one thing that really sticks out in my mind is a conversation that Mr. Davis had with Mr. McCartney five years after Mr. Lennon's death. Paul called him to talk about current events and to establish truth to several myths going around, and it was really wonderful. I would suggest this to everyone who is looking for a biography of the Beatles!! THIS IS DEFINATELY THE ONE TO READ!!
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on 6 July 2009
I am only reviewing this book to address the 1 star given by the only other reviewer as of July 2009. The previous reviewer seemed to be complaining about Amazon's lack of information about whether the book is a reprint rather than the book itself.

Hunter Davies' was the authorised biography and this is an updated edition of that biography. It is a hugely enjoyable read and much of the content of other books on the fabs is taken from here.

It thoroughly deserves the 5 stars and is highly recommended.
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on 28 October 2014
Before a visit to the childhood homes of Lennon and McCartney I wanted to read about their early years. This book did the job perfectly. The four separate stories are covered clearly, and then interwoven. But as it moves on to Hamburg, Beatle-mania and the years of studio recording it loses its touch. Hunter Davies was one of the Beatles inner circle - and values his access a little too much. He is very coy about the drug use, the sexual exploits and infidelities. I know they are not central, but to gloss over them leaves the story incomplete.
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on 29 December 2010
I love the beatles and always have and this book has given me even more information on them from before they picked up an instrument and played a tune and so far I've only read a sample and can't wait to read the rest.
From Harry
12 year old
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on 26 July 1997
This was the only authorized Beatles biography
written during the height of their career. Mr.
Davies had an unobstucted view of the Beatles
for a year and wrote down every thing he saw.
It includes copies of original text for songs and
explains how some songs came into being.
Excellent background information on all four of
the Beatles and almost any one who was called
a "Fifth Beatle." Overall, a great documentary
of the world's biggest sensation.
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