Despite the inclusion of some new interview material, this Beatles chronicle is hardly definitive. More important, perhaps, it's uncommonly dull, poorly written, and stocked with familiar scenes and phrases. The authors fill in the pre-fame background: John's traumatic childhood (see Coleman, below, for more detail) in contrast to Paul's secure roots; the influences of skiffle bands and US rock; the early incarnations of the band--with Hamburg (""a halcyon period in the boys' lives""), Stu Sutcliffe, the Cavern Club, the arrival of Brian Epstein (""fascinated by the idea of living vicariously through these boys""), and the departure of Pete Best. (Like Best himself, above, and many others, Cepican and Ali see jealousy and ""brutal insensitivity"" in the Beatles' treatment of Pete.) Then comes Beatlemania--with a flat account of all the tours, TV appearances, and recordings. (Though the adorable, innocent Fab Four image was in some ways a false publicity device, ""the group's music was their purest outward expression. . . they never emasculated their music for PR purposes."") Next? ""Prisoners of fame,"" of course: ""In desperation they turned to drugs to cope with the demands and the speed of their fame""--though ""stories about orgies taking place on tour. . . are largely exaggerated."" And soon ""the conflict between their individual identities and their joint identity as the Beatles"" led to friction and disillusionment, the Maharishi, John's loss of confidence, Paul's snobbery, George's interest in ""spiritualism,"" more drugs, the Apple venture (they wanted ""to kick the traditional entertainment industry in the butt""), the Klein-Eastman power struggle after Brian Epstein's death (""the turning point""), Paul's attempted domination, John and George's feelings of ""artistic repression,"" the advent of Yoko. . . and the ultimate breakup. Cepican and Ali avoid fanzine gush for the most part; they also downplay private-life gossip--except when scolding the Beatles about drugs. But their occasional attempts at group-psychology are shallow. And the music itself receives sketchy, unilluminating treatment. Hunter Davies' The Beatles (recently revised) is more evenly detailed; Philip Norman's Shout! is more readable, more probing, in all respects superior.