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'Beatles vs. Stones' puts a new spin on an age-old debate

McMillian offers fresh insight into the dynamics of both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones as they grew and changed, with a real-time and palpable sense of excitement.

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  • LENNY W. DOOLAN
  • PAPERBACK WRITER: John McMillian's Beatles vs. Stones offers a different take on an age-old feud.

Author John McMillian wants to make one thing clear: He is a historian, not a rock critic. It is precisely for this reason that he doesn't pick a side in the age-old debate that stands as the title for his second book: Beatles vs. Stones (Simon & Schuster 320 pages, $26). After all, what is there that's left to be said about such a tired debate in 2013? As it turns out, there's still plenty to be said. But for McMillian, who works as an assistant professor of history at Georgia State University, it's not about riffing on which band had a better drummer, and whose records were chock-full of filler. "I have always been obsessed with both groups; the Beatles and the Rolling Stones are two of my favorite bands," McMillian says. "But I didn't want to allow myself to get drawn into a debate over which one is better, and have readers approach the book as if it was a treatise on behalf of one sensibility or the other."

Rather, Beatles vs. Stones takes on a wholly different angle on how the greatest rock 'n' roll rivalry of all time was fostered by the fans, the music industry, the media, and by the bands themselves. By bringing to light mounds of source materials that most scholars and critics have never mined, namely the alternative newspapers and fan magazines of the late '60s and early '70s, McMillian taps into the stories of both bands as they unfold. By tracing their evolutions, side-by-side, as they appeared in the underground publications of the times, McMillian offers fresh insight into the dynamics of both groups as they grew and changed, with a real-time and palpable sense of excitement.

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