In a 1970 interview, John Lennon recapped The Beatles this way: We were just a band that made it very, very big.
Some 50 years on, the continued deification of the Fab Four has fascinated and at times frightened me. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books exploring virtually every hair on the Mop Tops heads. Some are good, some are bad, and some just didnt need to be written.
Its this category in which Gillian Gaars 100 Things Beatles Fans Should Know or Do Before They Die fits. Gaar has produced a bucket-list book for Beatles fans. The book is targeted at well, thats a tough one. Aside from a handful of obscure nuggets, theres little information that isnt already available in other more comprehensive and compelling books (or Wikipedia, for that matter).
If youre truly interested in learning about The Beatles phenomenon, youd do better with Bob Spitzs The Beatles, Hunter Davies The Beatles, Mark Lewisohns The Beatles Recording Sessions or my personal favorite, Cant Buy Me Love, by Jonathan Gould. Or just read Anthology, in which John, Paul, George and Ringo tell the story themselves.
Before an indignant Beatlemaniac takes me to Bungalow Bills woodshed, I get the contradiction (or hypocrisy, if you prefer) of an admitted Beatles aficionado blasting a book that summarizes the oft-told tale in easy-to-digest two-page chapters. My problem is not as much with Garrs style or accuracy as with how she answers the Why? test. And thats because she doesnt. Try as I might, I cant think of a good reason for this book to have been written when dozens of others already line Amazons virtual shelves.
100 Things is bathroom reading, at best.
One redeeming feature: At the end of many chapters Garr includes recommended titles for more information. In the case of this book, its best to go to the end first.