By Richard Porter, David Bedford &Susan Ryan.
Liverpool, Hamburg, London and New York are rightly considered places of major significance in the story of The Beatles, epitomising the steps that The Beatles made in their own development. These cities also represent the places of most importance for fans to visit with each city having landmarks that draw many fans in pilgrimage every year.
The three authors David Bedford, Richard Porter and Susan Ryan are experts on The Beatles story set in their respective cities and have collaborated to produce this marvellous reference source. The four cities influence The Beatles progression in very different ways at distinct phases of their story. John once said “We were born in Liverpool, but we grew up in Hamburg”. The authors have extended this notion to reaching maturity in London and immortality in New York. The format of the book is perfectly designed to allow the reader to follow The Beatles journey as you visit the significant places of interest along the way.
What fantastic cities Liverpool, Hamburg, London and New York are. The love and dedication that the authors have for them is evident and represented on the page and also made me enthused to follow the pages to the streets where the story unfolds.
Some places you visit in the book are massively important to the telling of the story like St. Peters Church, Woolton were John first met Paul. Others which you will discover, give a fleeting but insightful glimpse into an aspect of their story which can educate or entertain the reader. The design of the book has a clear and easy to follow presentation with useful maps of each city highlighting each location.
For me, the most important feature that the authors present are the similarities of the four cities, in terms of being port cities with significant cultural diversity and the incredible connections that bind them together. Cleverly the narrative of the book is interspersed with “Fab Four Connections” which are small passages that highlight the relationships between the cities and tether them together.
With three collaborating authors there is always the concern that the writing is not cohesive, though I have to say, that I did not find this at all and was pulled along through the story without distraction. The text was complemented by location photographs and other Beatle pics that illustrate the story nicely.
Fab Four Cities is a unique reference book that I look forward to using “in the field” when I visit Liverpool, Hamburg, London or New York. The book also includes an exclusive card utilising QR codes directing you to an interactive site with additional detail and interactive Google Maps, perfect for when you are on the go.
At points the book sadly presents the fact that certain locations do not exist any more and so it makes it important to take the opportunity, using this fabulous guide, to plan your trip at the earliest opportunity. This is a must have for any Beatles library and essential as a guide if you are visiting any of the cities with a Beatle motive. Enjoy your trip …
Review by Gwyn Jenkins.