Powerhouse journalist Hotchner, who has made a vast reputation chumming with the famous (Choice People, 1984, etc.) and concocting salad dressing with Paul Newman, turns out a juicy, downbeat, skewed look at the 1960's and the baddest band in rock 'n' roll. For Hotchner, the Rolling Stones are the Rosetta stone of the 60's, and by tracing their rise and fall, he also tracks the rise and fall of a generation, exposing how a ""surge of idealistic, carefree young people"" wound up ""ugly, brutal, and bloody."" Too old to have participated in the frenzy firsthand (Hotchner never gives his age, but he lets on that he served as a captain in WW II), he relies on reams of interviews, intruding only to glue the voices together. He dredges up a rouges' gallery of shellshocked rockers: Marianne Faithfull, ""forlorn and wasted. . .lining up thin strands of cocaine"" as she recalls her whirlwind voyage from convent girl to rock 'n' roll princess; Andrew Loog Oldham--the Stones' publicist--now ""scrambling about for pick-up jobs""; dozens more, including Anita Pallenberg, Mary Quant, Chris Jagger, each telling a tale of booze, drugs, burnout, of too much money and too much tame much too early in life. None of the important Stones agreed to be interviewed, and all come through here as callous, even depraved, although Hotchner saves his strongest venom for Mick Jagger: ""a ruler with no queen, no jester, no kingdom, just an egocentric bitch king with a neon scepter sitting on a hollow throne."" Hotchner also promises one terrific revelation: that Brian Jones, founder, namer, and best musician of the group, who was reportedly drowned in 1969, was actually murdered. The pages detailing this crime were, alas, withheld from prepublication review copies. Many will question Hotchner's emphasis on violence: Was the decade really awash in blood by 1970? Were the Stones, after all, more emblematic of the 60's than the peace-and-love Beatles? These objections notwithstanding, the book packs a wallop and is likely to race up the best-seller lists.