One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time
WINNER OF THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE 2020
A Spectator Book of the Year * A Times Book of the Year * A Telegraph Book of the Year * A Sunday Times Book of the Year
From the award-winning author of Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret comes a fascinating, hilarious, kaleidoscopic biography of the Fab Four.
John Updike compared them to ‘the sun coming out on an Easter morning’. Bob Dylan introduced them to drugs. The Duchess of Windsor adored them. Noel Coward despised them. JRR Tolkien snubbed them. The Rolling Stones copied them. Loenard Bernstein admired them. Muhammad Ali called them ‘little sissies’. Successive Prime Ministers sucked up to them. No one has remained unaffected by the music of The Beatles. As Queen Elizabeth II observed on her golden wedding anniversary, ‘Think what we would have missed if we had never heard The Beatles.’
One Two Three Four traces the chance fusion of the four key elements that made up The Beatles: fire (John), water (Paul), air (George) and earth (Ringo). It also tells the bizarre and often unfortunate tales of the disparate and colourful people within their orbit, among them Fred Lennon, Yoko Ono, the Maharishi, Aunt Mimi, Helen Shapiro, the con artist Magic Alex, Phil Spector, their psychedelic dentist John Riley and their failed nemesis, Det Sgt Norman Pilcher.
From the bestselling author of Ma’am Darling comes a kaleidoscopic mixture of history, etymology, diaries, autobiography, fan letters, essays, parallel lives, party lists, charts, interviews, announcements and stories. One Two Three Four joyfully echoes the frenetic hurly-burly of an era.
'A ridiculously enjoyable treat... Brown is such an infectiously jolly writer that you don't even need to like the Beatles to enjoy his book ... And at a time when, like everybody else, I was feeling not entirely thrilled about the news, I loved every word of it' Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times 'We're taken on a magical mystery tour ... Brown seems to have invented a wholly new biographical form. In a polychromatic cavalcade of chapters of varying length, the man with kaleidoscope eyes conveys what it was like to live through those extraordinary Beatles years, with the odd glance at what came before and after ... if you want to know what it was like to live those extraordinary Beatles years in real time, read this book' Alan Johnson, Spectator Praise for Ma'am Darling: 'Ma'am Darling is fascinating. Brown has done something amazing with Ma'am Darling: in my wilder moments, I wonder if he hasn't reinvented the biographical form' Observer 'A biography teeming with the joyous, the ghastly and the clinically fascinating' Hannah Bett, The Times 'Consistently hilarious and eye-opening' Tim Adams, Observer 'Heaven' India Knight, Sunday Times 'The only royal biography of the year worth handing the Queen's head over for, Ma'am Darling is a modern and unconventional portrait of an old-fashioned princess as distilled and pickled through the genius of Craig Brown' Helen Davies, Sunday Times 'Craig Brown has brilliantly drawn together the component parts of a complex woman' The Oldie 'A playful, impish approach...Brown gives us lots of wonderful incidental detail...The deftly amused writing constantly tugs the corners of your mouth upwards' Evening Standard 'A cross between biography and satire that perfectly displays Brown's rare skills as journalist and parodist', Mark Lawson, Guardian, Books of the Year
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