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The Insomniac Reader

Books and snarky commentary inspired by insomnia induced reading marathons.



The Fifth Beatle

The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story - Vivek Tiwary, Philip Simon, Andrew C. Robinson, Kyle Baker

*I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*


As far as The Beatles go, I consider myself someone who likes a lot of their songs, but I don't have what it takes to be a die hard fan. That being said, I do appreciate the impact they made on music and pop culture. 


In this graphic novel, Tiwary focuses on the "fifth Beatle" also known as Brian Epstein, music entrepreneur responsible for managing the Beatles among other musical acts of the time. Poor Brian Epstein did not have it easy at the time. He was Jewish and gay during a time when that really was not a good thing, especially in the UK when being homosexual made you a criminal. Laws against homosexuality were not decriminalized until a month after Epstein's death. He also abused prescription medication, and since he died at the age of 32 from a lethal combination of Carbitral and alcohol, I think we can guess how well that ended.


The graphic novel presents Epstein as a workaholic with a dream to make sure The Beatles became the biggest thing in the music industry since sliced bread. He made this dream a reality with a zeal that borders on insanity. I'd make a comment about his mental health, but considering the circumstances of his life, that seems unnecessary to mention. 


Along with talking about his successes there is another important story that gives humanity to Epstein. We see the successful and hard working business man, we see the man who drank too much and took too many pills, but we also saw the troubled man who society and the law considered a criminal who just longed for a sense of belonging in this world. And that might have been the best and saddest part of the whole story. 


Tiwary did his research, but he doesn't apologize for taking some artistic license and creating a story that's part myth part fact that Epstein himself survived on for much of his life. If you can forgive that bending of the rules in non-fiction, this is a very interesting story with beautiful artwork worth reading for anyone who is a Beatles fan, or interesting in pop culture history in general.