BEATLENESS by Candy Leonard


How the Beatles and Their Fans Remade the World
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Sociological study of first-generation Beatles fans and how the Fab Four shaped ordinary Americans’ lives over a six-year period.

Sociologist and baby boomer Leonard manages to find a new angle of approach to the study of the Beatles. Her book is the latest testament to the seemingly infinite possibilities for commercial exploitation of the lads from Liverpool in the literary marketplace. However, instead of an opportunistic music critic spouting off on the Beatles’ multiform wonderfulness, here we get a cross section of the first generation of Beatles fans adding their own long-overdue opinions to this seemingly endless pop-cultural conversation. Although the book does have some of the unfortunate trappings of an average academic research project, Leonard mostly steers clear of convoluted classroom language and deluges of distracting footnotes to fashion an intermittently enlightening historical-cultural narrative of how the Beatles helped change America’s youth culture forever. The book is divided into chapters that cover a number of different important eras in Beatles history, beginning with the author’s pre-Beatlemania historical perspective on how “the events of the Kennedy sixties gave birth to a new sensibility, a new consciousness, at odds with the conformity and stifling constraint of the era.” The most engaging aspects of the book are not so much about the Beatles’ music widening an already expanding generation gap with their attitudes, hairstyles, clothes and sophisticated pop tunes; the value of the book hinges more on intergenerational comparisons and contrasts of how “Beatleness” affected members of the youth demographic, especially when it comes to differing gender perspectives on the Beatles’ music. Leonard also provides a helpful overall sense of how the average American Beatles fan not only accommodated the lightning-speed stylistic shifts in the band’s music from 1964 to 1970, but how these changes affected the decisions they made in their own personal lives.

A welcome—though by no means essential—sociocultural study for the Beatlemaniac bookworm.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-62872-417-2
Page count: 312pp
Publisher: Arcade
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2014


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