Saturday, November 01, 2008

With the Beatles

by Lewis Lapham

Halfway between the summer of love and the Tet offensive, the Beatles went to India to study with the Maharishi — and Lewis Lapham, esteemed Harper's editor and award-winning writer, was there. WITH THE BEATLES is a remarkable book of cultural commentary on that seminal '60s moment.

The ashram in Rishikesh, India was the ultimate '60s scene: the Beatles, Donovan, Mia Farrow, a stray Beach Boy and other '60s icons gathered along the shores of the Ganges—amidst paisley and incense and flowers and guitars—to meditate at the feet of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The February 1968 gathering received such frenzied, world-wide attention that it is still considered a significant, early encounter between Western pop culture and the mystical East. And Lewis Lapham was the only journalist allowed inside.

And what went on inside the compound has long been the subject of wild speculation and rampant rumor. The Beatles said they wrote some of their greatest songs there . . . and yet they also came away bitterly disillusioned. In With The Beatles Lewis Lapham finally tells the whole story.

Lewis Lapham is the editor of Harper’s Magazine, and the author of numerous books, including Theater of War, Money and Class in America, 30 Satires, and, most recently, Gag Rule. He has hosted two television series for PBS, America’s Century and Bookmark, and he writes a monthly essay for Harper's Magazine called "Notebook." He won a 1995 National Magazine Award for three of those essays, in which the judges discovered "an exhilarating point of view in an age of conformity."

He has also written for Life, Commentary, National Review, The Yale Literary Magazine, Elle, Fortune, Forbes, The American Spectator, Vanity Fair, Travel and Leisure Golf, Golf Digest, Parade, Channels, Maclean's, The London Observer, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

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