If you read the news about Mark Lewisohn's massive new book about the Beatles' early years and wondered what it could possibly add to the band's legend, the answer is simple: absolutely nothing at all. In fact, as Lewisohn recently told CNN, he tried to wipe all that away and start over.

"It's a story that's lost all its excitement, because it's been trodden down through too many bad tellings through the years," he explained. "I just felt I would disregard everything that's been done. I would start again ... It's not about legends, it's not about icons, it's not about myths. The book is anti-myth."

At this point, it takes unprecedented access to attempt the sort of sprawling, comprehensive treatment that Lewisohn gave the band's beginnings in the new book, titled 'Tune In.' Fortunately for the author, whose previous works include 'The Beatles Recording Sessions' and 'The Beatles Chronicle,' he's arguably the most widely respected Beatles historian currently working, and his bona fides served him well -- not only in terms of gaining access to materials and interviews, but in obtaining the necessary perspective for a clear-eyed appraisal of rock's most beloved band.

"This is a proper work of history," insisted Lewisohn, who aimed to give the group the same in-depth treatment afforded political figures. "And it needs to be done, and it needs to be done now, while the witnesses are still with us -- most of them -- and while access to archives is still possible ... They never existed in isolation. They were always in the mix with other people. They're not legends. They're just people."

Current plans call for 'Tune In' to act as the first installment in a projected trilogy called 'The Beatles: All These Years.' Lewisohn told CNN that he's roughly 40 percent finished with the second installment and 10 percent through the third, and predicted he could spend the rest of the decade finishing the other books. Fortunately, 'Tune In' offers 800 pages (unless you spring for the 1,728-page deluxe edition), which should be enough to keep fans occupied during a healthy chunk of the wait for Volume Two.

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