And in the end
the love you take
is equal to
the love you make
- The Beatles, The End, 1969
The Love You Make is a 1983 book written by Peter Brown and Steven Gaines, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the Beatles. Peter was a long-time employee of NEMS and later Apple Corp, so he had a great deal of access to the band, even going so far as to be mentioned in the song The Ballad of John and Yoko. This book has been largely in print since its original release, most recently in a 2002 paperback printing by the New American Library.
What Does The Book Cover?
The book basically serves as a combined biography of the four Beatles and Brian Epstein, covering their backgrounds and then covering their years together in a behind-the-scenes perspective, assuming that the reader is already familiar with the albums and the music. The book's timeline ends in about 1982, which cuts out George Harrison's return to success in the late 1980s (think Got My Mind Set On You) and the controversial Beatles Anthology project.
Rather than being written in a truly biographical format, the writing style is reminscent of a tabloid, with many passages seemingly written to amplify their surprise and shock value to the casual reader. While this makes the book much more of a fun read, it cuts away at the actual value of the book as a true historical reference on the group.
The book provides a very readable, fun, concise background on the Beatles, both collectively and individually. The book assumes that you know a fair amount about the group in advance, especially in terms of their public personas and released music, but this is a good thing, as that leaves Brown in the position of being able to focus on the lesser-known stories about the group. And that's what the book focuses on.
The book has a very nice narrative structure that really absorbs the reader in places, and Brown's heady style keeps the book moving forward. In terms of reading for the sheer enjoyment of it, this book is probably the best choice available for a book on the Beatles. But there are some caveats...
The major flaw in the book is its repeated factual inaccuracy, largely from the tales told based on anecdotal evidence. Perhaps the most famous of these inaccuracies, and the one that landed Brown in a great deal of hot water at the time of the book's printing, was the supposed revelation that John Lennon and Brian Epstein were involved in a homosexual affair in 1963. The only evidence for this is coincidence and some fleeting anecdotes, and is largely considered to be a false claim.
Additional examples of "shocking" revelations that are less than trustworthy include the supposed affair between George Harrison and Ringo Starr's wife Maureen, the extent of the drug addiction of Yoko Ono and John Lennon, and the seeming insanity of Paul McCartney's behavior in 1969 and 1970 revolving around the legal relationships of the Beatles. Brown seems to try to portray Paul as being the reason the group broke up, but goes on to repeatedly contradict that assessment.
Another notable flaw is how Brown seems to pick favorites. The man is inordinately nice to both Magic Alex and Cynthia Lennon, often glossing over their flaws and making them seem like much nicer people than other evidence from the time seems to suggest. On the other hand, he is very hard on Paul McCartney, bashing the man repeatedly and seeming to be almost resentful of Paul's success. Why this is is beyond me, since it was the other three Beatles (via Allen Klein) who seem to be responsible for Peter Brown's dismissal from Apple.
Should I Bother?
I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of the Beatles, with some caveats. The first one is to not necessarily believe some of the more shocking revelations of the book. The second is that when you throw out these revelations, much of the book isn't really all that surprising. However, it is unquestionably an enjoyable read, particularly if you are already a major fan of the Beatles and can discern quickly which parts are inherently false.
If You Liked This...
Try picking up the book Beatles Anthology, available in both hardback and softcover. In terms of mixing enjoyment with education on the phenomenon of the Beatles, it is probably the best choice available. Also recommended is Many Years From Now, which is Paul McCartney's biography. The Love You Make will likely leave a very negative impression of Paul McCartney, which is decidedly unfair to Paul.