Mark Hertsgaard is the author of two previous books, NUCLEAR INC.: THE MEN AND MONEY BEHIND NUCLEAR ENERGY (1983) and ON BENDED KNEE: THE PRESS AND THE REAGAN PRESIDENCY (1988). As a freelance journalist, Hertsgaard has written articles for such publications as THE NEW YORKER, ESQUIRE, VANITY FAIR, THE NEW YORK TIMES, and numerous others. One of the reasons why A DAY IN THE LIFE is not merely another book about the Beatles stems from the fact that the author was given access to the Beatles archives at Abbey Road Studios. The archives contain more than four hundred hours of recordings.
As a trained investigative journalist, Hertsgaard made the most of his good fortune and has constructed what has to be considered the most complete portrait of the beatles’ creative process to date. For Hertsgaard, what matters most about the Beatles is the brilliant music that the group created. Other books may delve into the private lives of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, but to Hertsgaard’s way of thinking it is the music that is of prime importance.
The foundation of A DAY IN THE LIFE is how the Beatles went about creating music. Other authors may set out to prove some grandiose theory concerning the Beatles or make the group fit into some cosmic plan, but Hertsgaard did not want his study to become bogged down in the theoretical realm. The truth about the Beatles that he has constructed is built with the facts as he found them. In addition to his close scrutiny of the Beatles archives, Hertsgaard relied on the work already done by archivist Mark Lewisohn. Lewisohn has written extensively about the Beatles, including the definitive book about the group’s recording sessions, THE BEATLES: RECORDING SESSIONS (1988). Hertsgaard has diligently sifted through everything the Beatles said or was said about them and has written a remarkable history of what four self-taught musicians were able to accomplish in a relatively short period of time. Since interest in the Beatles is not likely to wane anytime soon, A DAY IN THE LIFE should stand as a crucial introduction to the Beatles for sometime to come.