By Bob Cannon
November 02, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Do we really need another bio about The Beatles? If it’s as detailed and comprehensive as this massive, 983-page doorstop, we do. Dylan biographer Bob Spitz gives us the most vivid portrait ever of the Moptops’ hardscrabble years in Liverpool and Hamburg (right down to the type of paint on the walls of their Liverpool home base, the Cavern). Along the way, he chronicles the growing jealousy between the self-destructive John Lennon and the egomaniacal Paul McCartney that produced magic at first, then misery. Despite the occasional gaffe (like getting some ages wrong), Spitz captures the unbridled joy of the group’s rise, the astonishing range of their music, and the heartbreak of their dissolution. In other words, this version of the band’s history, much like the group itself, is flawed but ultimately fab.

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