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By Larry Kane. Running Press. 416 pages. $24.95
Thursday, September 5, 2013
“When They Were Boys” promises in subtitle to be “the true story of the Beatles’ rise to the top.” After all, author Larry Kane traveled with the boys in the American tours of 1964 and 1965.
As the only American journalist to make every stop with the group during those years, Kane has a unique voice.
The book offers plenty of interesting anecdotes and eyewitness accounts to make it a valuable source for those who have studied all things Beatles.
However, if you haven’t read other accounts of the early years of the iconic band, I wouldn’t start with Kane’s book.
The first 50 pages of “When They Were Boys” are difficult to follow and structurally unsound. Kane repeatedly draws conclusions without evidence.
He is particularly muddled when it comes to discussions of John Lennon. He spends an entire chapter trying to prove that Lennon was a nice guy only to end the chapter with the admonition that Lennon would “throw you under a bus” if you got in his way.
Throughout the book, Kane ignores some of his own data and misinterprets much of the rest.
I spent the entire reading using the Internet to consult other experts in an attempt to corroborate his accounts. I could agree with Kane’s conclusions often enough to keep reading, but I would have preferred having a writer I could trust.
Kane insinuates himself into the narrative to the point of distraction, and in almost every chapter he introduces a story only to tell the reader he will finish it later. I have no idea if he ever tells all those stories. I lost track.
I must say though, between the book and the Internet, I did get to know the younger Beatles in a new and intriguing light.
Kane competently handles the impact of the “bulge generation,” the importance of original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe, and the diligent efforts of Mona Best (Pete’s mother) to make the band successful.
If you have already read other books about the Beatles, go ahead and read this one. If you haven’t, don’t start here.
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