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When They Were Boys: The True Story of the Beatles' Rise to the Top
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When They Were Boys: The True Story of the Beatles' Rise to the Top

3.52  ·  Rating Details ·  147 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
This is the story of the Beatles’ harrowing rise to fame: focusing on that seven-year stretch from the time the boys met as teenagers to early 1964, when the Fab Four made their momentous first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. From the boys’ humble beginnings in Liverpool, to the cellars of Hamburg, When They Were Boys includes stories never before told, including the h ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published July 30th 2013 by Running Press
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Community Reviews

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Jun 01, 2013 Laura rated it it was ok
I was hoping that an editor seriously attacks this before it's published, but since that's in two months it probably won't happen.

Here's the problem: repetition. Every time Joe Ankrah is mentioned, there's also a mention of his group the Chants and how Paul (and the Beatles) broke through racial lines for them. Once would have enough. And then Kane falls into Dan Brownian writing when he says "Life model June Furlong" (or some variation on that theme). This is always a problem when reporters wri
Sep 17, 2013 Susan rated it it was ok
Author Larry Kane first met the Beatles as a 21 year old reporter in 1964 when he accompanied them on their first US tour - he was also on the 1965 and part of the ill fated 1966 tour of the States and has written A Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles' 1964 Tour That Changed the World about his experiences, as well as other books on the band. It is a brave man who releases a new biography about the band's early years, claiming to be "the true story", especially with Mark Lewisohn's epic work abou ...more
Ryn McAtee
I'm probably being generous giving this book a three, when I really think it deserved about a 2.5, but Goodreads apparently doesn't care if you're torn on ratings. Really, I don't have much to say that hasn't been said already-- I found the writing style overly sentimental, there were glaring factual errors at the beginning of the book that made me wary of everything else, the repetition of phrases and stories got very old, very fast. The most redemptive qualities to Kane's book were the intervi ...more
Is there an echo in the room? In order to bolster his view of the events surrounding the Beatles early in their career, he cites multiple sources. After a while, I began to feel like I was in a Hall of Mirrors. While there is the occasional nugget here, you have to do a lot of panning to find it and frankly, I don't have the time. When it gets down to it, it's all about the music, not the personalities for me. If you going to cite a bunch of people saying essentially the same thing, use footnote ...more
Jul 19, 2013 Kathryn rated it liked it
ARC received from NetGalley.

Some of you may be groaning to see yet another Beatles book reviewed on this blog. What can one possibly learn from a new title, and how can we be sure this is the true story of the Fab's early years. Having read so many books over the years, one would think I could recite the story by heart. So many Beatle "insiders" and witnesses to the early days of Hamburg and Liverpool - it's nice to know so many are still kicking after fifty-plus years - and it appears that jour
Sep 05, 2013 Stephen rated it it was amazing
This book is 5 stars if you love ' The Beatles ' but only 3 stars if you just tolerate them. This book is way different than Larry Kane's initial book written in 2003 .. " Ticket To Ride ". In that book he told the story of their unreal tour of the United States , as they went from city to city and established their reputation. It was a fun and exhilarating adventure. This book starts their story from when they were just kids in Liverpool.
You will learn about ' the Lads ' as they grew up in Li
May 24, 2014 Reid rated it did not like it
A deeply disappointing read: a repetitive, disorganized, and not comprehensive telling of the early careers of the Beatles. It says many, many times that the Beatles "went to Hamburg" four times, but leaves out any discussion of what happened on trips #3 and #4. (This by way of example of how the book sets up expectations and then doesn't fulfill them.) It also talks about Epstein's death of a drug overdose but is completely silent on just how much, how long, and what types of drugs he used, who ...more
Aug 02, 2016 Jonathan rated it it was ok
I love the music, and to learn more about the boys, have read a couple books on the group and their reception in the States, all of which are better I'm sorry to say.
After a few dozen pages I came to the conclusion that the assemblage of interview after interview is really for the specialist because this really concentrates not on the lads themselves, but on the various personalities (not hangers-on I hasten to add) who affected the trajectory of the Beatles' rise to fame and fortune. The book
Bob Schnell
Jun 14, 2013 Bob Schnell rated it really liked it
First off, I love Larry Kane. For years he was my news anchor of choice in the Philadelphia area. I could not help but hear his voice while reading his latest book on the Beatles, especially since it is written in his TV journalist prose. That may be a detriment to some, but it enhanced my enjoyment of "When They Were Boys".

This is not so much a story of the up and coming Beatles as it is the story of those in the scene around them who helped (sometimes without knowing it) to catapault them to f
Clint Priest
Oct 16, 2013 Clint Priest rated it really liked it
As an avid reader of all things Beatles, it's rare for me to come across new or fresh info. This book accomplishes just that for me. Taking an entirely different perspective than other books on one of my favorite topics, the book traces the fellas from the very earliest starts up to the breakthrough year of 1963. What's even more unique is the book examines not just the genesis of the group and how they found success, but also takes great lengths to dissect all those that played such pivotal rol ...more
Deby Depreta
Oct 28, 2013 Deby Depreta rated it liked it
Fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse at the business of the Beatles in their early days pre-America invasion. This book does take some of the gleam off the public personas of all four men. I was particularly intrigued by the canniness, manipulativeness, jealousy, and paranoia of Paul. I was also unaware of how very violent and angry John was. The only person to emerge unscathed in this book was George. Additionally, these four young men were wantonly promiscuous to the point of being pathologic ...more
Jun 12, 2014 Dianeh rated it liked it
Sorry, but in my opinion, this book isn't worth reading. There are so many other books that tell the story of how the Beatles became famous much better! While Mr. Kane may have traveled with the "boys" during their American tours in '64 and '65, he wasn't around when they were making it! So most of this book is researched. Admittedly, he did ask John, Paul, George and Ringo questions about their rise but after they were famous.

I found the book very hard to read because I'm a very big fan and al
Feb 04, 2016 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Larry Kane was a reporter who covered the Beatles on their 1964, 1965 and part of their final 1966 tours. He stayed in touch with the band members and members of their organization over the years and has written two prior books about the band. This one, as the title implies, is about the Beatles' growing-up years and the years spent forming the band and working very hard for a half-dozen years to achieve "overnight" success. The book goes through the end of 1963; a year in which they had become ...more
Sep 06, 2014 Joanne rated it really liked it
This story chronicles the Beatles early formative years, before they were "The Beatles". It begins in the 1950s, detailing how they four young men met and over time, the band forming. All the ups and downs, the gritty, dirty venues they played in just to try to gain some recognition. Eventually, chance meetings and certain people entering their lives, their fortune very slowly begins to turn for the better. Even as they were finally perched on the cusp of superstardom, thanks to their appearance ...more
Dec 27, 2013 Devon rated it liked it
I hate to say it, but as I finished the last page of Larry Kane's second book on the Beatles, I said "Well, that wasn't worth 30 bucks."

Even so, I gave it three stars for revealing some new anecdotes about my favorite band that it wasn't privy to before and for the depth of research Kane did.

It lacks a 4 or 5 star rating because there is a lot of personal promotion from Kane and a lot of hearsay.

Okay for the really involved fan to gain yet another perspective, but if you're a so-so fan of the
Apr 04, 2014 Hugh rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book. Larry makes it clear up front that some of the stories he shares may be fabrications or exaggerations so we're calibrated to enjoy this book but not entirely believe 100% of what we literally read. He successfully does make the point that it took luck, good fortune, amazing talent, and gritty determination to achieve what they did - with the help of others that have slipped out of the story. One ah-ha I got from the book - which I guess shouldn't have been a surprise! - is t ...more
Apr 15, 2014 Steve rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this early history of the pre-famous Beatles, and would recommend it to anyone who was/is a fan or is just interested in the rise of the biggest phenomenon in the history of popular music and culture. At 21, reporter Larry Kane (familiar to those of us in Philadelphia for his years as an evening news anchor) got to travel with the Beatles during their first US tour in 1964. He also traveled with them on their 1965 and part of the 1966 US tours, where he had the opportunity t ...more
Jul 19, 2014 Deb rated it it was ok
Cashing in on the happy accident of having covered the Beatles back in 63 to 66 when they were in the US, this guy decided to write a book on the Beatles before he met them. Guy is a terrible writer, one of those who confuse words, and I think he self publishes so for example he says that "Astrid was alone in her solace" when he means "sorrow." Also, he does not understand "English English" so he transcribes, in an interview, 'estate agent' as 'state agent.' There's a big difference. The book is ...more
This was very informative - beware that it only covers a very specific period, accurately reflected by the title. I liked the variety of people involved, and hence the sources, as well as the discussion of several other books (both supporting and refuting). However, it was very repetitive of certain points, which detracted rather than added to the book.

For someone wanting more insight into the origin of the Beatles, this should be on their reading list.
Nov 22, 2013 Dalen rated it it was ok
You might want to read this if you are an avid Beatles fan. There are some interesting facts and perspective of the boys and the people surrounding them in the early years. The author seems to have pieced together information from his interviews to write this book. It seemed as if each chapter was written as a stand-alone essay, but when put together In a book there becomes a lot of repetition. I'm surprised there wasn't a greater amount of editing.
Aaron Badgley
Aug 24, 2016 Aaron Badgley rated it liked it
This is Mr. Kane's second book about The Beatles (plus he wrote one on Lennon). He toured with the Beatles, as a reporter, and their paths continued to cross over the years. This book has a unique perspective, in that he interviews a great many of the people who helped The Beatles on the way, as well as dipping into his collection of interviews. I enjoyed reading this book. Well written and a fun and informing read.
Feb 23, 2014 Jyl rated it liked it
I read this since the Beatles just celebrated their 50th anniversary. I know this is just an opinion of one man, but he was very persuasive. It really changed the way I think about the Beatles and not in the best way. If you don't want your love of the Beatles to change then don't read this book, but if you want to learn some interesting stuff read away, but I'm warning you it wont be pretty. Kind of glad I read it, kind of wish I hadn't.
Ms. Yingling
Not the most exciting biography of the Beatles. I couldn’t tell if Kane knew them personally or was just writing as if he did. Chapters meander all over the place and are weirdly philosophical. I couldn’t bring myself to finish the book; the e book had few pictures.

Perhaps this is an adult book and not meant for YA or MG? I can't see my students reading this. Kallen's book Death of a Dreamer about John Lennon is much better.
Aug 11, 2016 Jan rated it it was ok
Eh. The content should be interesting but there is so much chaff to plow through to get there. Not sure if I'm going to finish. I'm basically skimming now. Skimmed the rest of the book. There were interesting bits of information and characters that added details to the story of the early Beatles. However,there was way too much repetition. A good editor could have helped a lot.
Only read a couple of chapters--one about Pete Best and one about Stuart Sutcliffe. I'm fascinated by the prospect of other people being considered Beatles since the Fab four are so iconic. Might read the rest of it later.
D.L. Kelly
Aug 27, 2014 D.L. Kelly rated it liked it
This book was interesting to me because it was about the Beatles. If you don't like the Beatles, don't read it. I thought it would be more about the Beatles but the author goes into detail about the lives of other people who worked with or influenced them.

Oct 07, 2013 Erin rated it did not like it
Shelves: ugh
I love the Beatles, but I just could not get into Mr. Kane's writing style at all. I read a lot of adult nonfiction and biographies, and I prefer them with a straightforward, narrative style. This was neither, and I ended up not making it in more than 50 pages or so.
May 26, 2015 Calista rated it it was ok
I enjoyed the information in this book, but the way it was presented drove me a little crazy. There was so much skipping around the timeline, and retelling things that had been told in previous chapters! The writing was good, the information was good, but the layout wasn't my cup of tea.
Feb 27, 2014 LaGina rated it really liked it
A great read for behind the scenes of the Beatles in their early years. It gives you a little run down as they get started in the business.
Mar 27, 2014 Frankie rated it really liked it
If you are not a Beatles fan this book could be deadly. Many new incites into the dynamics of the Beatles. Mostly about their early years and those who helped them get to the top.
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