Picks and Pans Review: Blown Away

updated 10/15/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/15/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by A.E. Hotchner

For 40 years people have tried to pin the blame for any number of society's failings on the devil's favorite music, rock and roll. Hotchner, author of Papa Hemingway, takes that idea a giant step further. He lays the collapse of an entire decade, in this case the 1960s, square on the shoulders of Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones.

The case, as presented, is flimsy at best, bogged down by a stream of pompous, directionless and downright boring passages. ("The generation of the sixties was, adamantly, the first generation that refused to inherit the earth.")

With a format put to better use by Jean Stein in Edie, Hotchner intercuts his musings with those of a number of '60s survivors, Tony Palmer, Marianne Faithfull, Sally Arnold and Ian Stewart among them. He focuses on the "mystery" surrounding the death of Stones founding member Brian Jones, whose body was discovered in his swimming pool in July 1969. The death was recorded as a drug-induced drowning. Hotchner presents evidence suggesting Jones's death was caused by some construction workers who, while renovating the guitarist's mansion, grew to hate his effete arrogance and decided to teach him a lesson by holding him under water. They held on too long. True or not, it's a mammoth stretch to wrap an entire book—not to mention the problems of a generation—around such a possibility.

Throughout, Hotchner follows the rising and falling tides of the '60s through the actions of the Stones. When they partied, so too did an entire generation. When the Rolling Stones mourned or wallowed in madness, so too did the youth of the world. By Hotchner's reading, everything came to a crashing end on Dec. 9, 1969, when Hell's Angels clubbed and stabbed fans at a Stones concert in Livermore, Calif.

Mick and his band are a small piece of a huge 3-D puzzle involving music, politics, Vietnam, angst and hormones. Laying a decade at their door, as Hotchner tries to do, is an ineffectual exercise. (Simon and Schuster, $21.95)

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