The Beatles Anthology is a product of the same commercial thrust that gave us the comprehensive 1994 television and video documentary as well as the three bestselling "Anthology" albums. Compiling commentary from the three surviving Beatles--Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr--and including earlier quotes from John Lennon as well as occasional interjections from a handful of the most significant Beatles associates (business associate Neil Aspinall, personal assistant Mal Evans, publicist Derek Taylor and producer George Martin), the anthology follows the chronology of the band, starting with childhood reminiscences. In effect, the Beatles tell their own story, without critical commentary. Revelatory pictures, many never seen before, accompany the text.
In his book Lennon in America, [Geoffrey Giuliano], author of several Beatles-related books, recounts the last nine years of his subject's life. In exhaustive detail, using information purportedly gleaned from an unpublished Lennon diary (a text never directly quoted from), Giuliano reveals the not-so-shocking news that Lennon was not an altogether happy man. In other words, we get more of the character assassination that was begun in such high style by Albert Goldman's notorious The Lives of John Lennon.
[Ken Mansfield] has a more personal tale to tell. As the U.S. representative for the Beatles' Apple label from 1968 to 1970, Mansfield, a music industry veteran, had first-hand contact with the group. His account is a warm-hearted look at an exciting period, related by an observer who was often at the right place at the right time (McCartney's solo visit to L.A., the Beatles "Let It Be" sessions, the rooftop "final" concert). But The Beatles the Bible and Bodega Bay is as concerned with Mansfield's religious awakening as it is with telling us much about the band. Chapters are split between recollections of the Beatles and the author's Christian reflections. Heartfelt as both are, the result is disconcerting. But perhaps for many who are under the Beatles' enduring spell, mingling music and religion may not seem far-fetched at all.
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