Picks and Pans Review: The Beatles Anthology

updated 11/06/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/06/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

by the Beatles

Even now it's tempting to think of the Beatles as a cultural force so powerful they not only transformed popular music but impacted everything from fashion to politics. But as John, Paul, George and Ringo tell it in this long-awaited group recollection, their view was decidedly different. "It was crazy," says George Harrison, describing the height of Beatlemania. "Not within the band. In the band we were normal. The rest of the world was crazy." That unique perspective—along with more than 1,000 snapshots, handwritten notes and business letters—gives this epic volume its considerable charm. Even Beatle experts will enjoy the fresh anecdotes uncovered in interviews with the three surviving band members. (Lennon's contribution is cobbled together from various interviews.) However, their alternating recollections don't always get to the emotional heart of their experience—which only makes Lennon's demise the more poignant. For while the interviews he gave prior to his 1980 death are refreshingly frank, we're left wondering how the most unvarnished of the Beatles would have seen it so many years later. (Chronicle, $60)

Bottom Line: Mostly magical history tour

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