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I Couldn't Put My Ears Down

Gene Flanagan

     “Now… The Book!!!! I really don’t know how to express my amazement and joy listening to it!!!! Scott McKinley is a master!!!! He makes the story come alive in ways that, obviously, one must hear to understand what I mean. It’s like I am RIGHT THERE!!!! Just fantastic, Jude.

       I can only hope that you will consider Scott doing more audio books of your incredible series. To be true…..I’m a voracious reader and stubbornly old school when it comes to my books. I have to hold them, covers are taken off and stored in a safe place while I’m reading, no bent pages – that’s what bookmarks are for, etc, etc. BUT -------I COULDN’T PUT MY EARS DOWN listening to your audio book!!!!!! It is simply amazing and a true gift for all John Lennon fans. I have thanked you a million times privately for sending it to me.”

The E-book Version is the Ultimate Experience!

Victor Cantu

“I’ve been a huge Beatles fan all my life and was enthralled with Should Have Known Better by Jude Southerland Kessler. It follows the group’s real-life adventures, with a focus on John Lennon (the closest thing they had to “a leader”) through nearly all of 1964. That was arguably the most spectacular year of The Beatles’ career.

Should Have Known Better is written as if you are hanging out with John and “the lads” throughout this meteoric year. The book is “a thousand pages, give or take a few” (to quote The Beatles’ song “Paperback Writer) and is meticulously researched, backed up by over 3,000 footnotes! In fact, those thousands of footnotes are a great reason to buy the e-book, online edition.

I bought the physical book, and I loved it but found myself reading the links to the websites and Beatles videos throughout, which I could not quickly see without the chore of putting down my book and viewing them on my smartphone or laptop.

The book highlights Lennon in his early 20s, at the start of his worldly career (The Beatles first hit #1 in the U.S. in January 1964), as one of the all-time great rockers, who also had incredible charisma, wisdom, instincts, humor, and biting sarcasm. This is the 4th book in Kessler’s chronological John Lennon Series. It starts off soon after their legendary February 1964 Ed Sullivan Show appearance, which set the all-time TV-viewing audience record then! That year, The Beatles’ singles hit #1 on the Billboard charts 6 times, including Numbers 1 through 5 the first week of April! The Beatles’ astounding musical talent, along with their ultra-relaxed, cool, and hilarious personalities helped set a massive part of the world’s youth on fire. The “mop tops” were this new, irresistible, ecstatically-screaming, rebellious rock group, with very weird (for that time) hairstyles.

Should Have Known Better is the mad romp of the young Beatles on myriad adventures from their U.S. and Canadian concert tours, to the making of their first smash hit movie and album, A Hard Day’s Night, and much, much more! Along the way, Lennon is awarded England’s highest literary award for his book of cartoons and stories, In His Own Write.

Thanks to Jude Southerland Kessler’s historic documentation, which included several years in Liverpool and London, we are treated to dozens of Beatle scenes rarely talked about, such as their wild romp through Amsterdam’s “red light district” during one of their concert tours.

Having Lennon as the focus of the book lets you see the whole crazy circus with him at the center. He had deep emotional wounds from being “abandoned” as a toddler by his father and from a mother who was unable to raise him…and permitted him to be raised by her sister, Mimi Smith, a strict disciplinarian. But this “school of hard knocks” did not prevent Lennon from having what must have been one of the most fun, wildest lives of any young adult then!

Do yourself a favor and get the e-book edition of the books in The John Lennon Series. Not only is the e-book version 1/3 of the price, compared to the print version (!), but it will make for a far, far better reading experience. There are many links to articles, websites, YouTube videos, etc. that you can easily access on the e-book version. Switching to these links and then back to the book would greatly enrich each section of the book. As I read the physical book, I kept kicking myself for not buying the online, e-book version. But either way Should Have Known Better is a major Beatles literary milestone.

Give The John Lennon Series A Chance

Sara Schmidt

and author of "Dear Beatle People"


It has taken me all of 2019 to read, but I am now finally ready to review the newest book in Jude Southerland Kessler’s John Lennon Series, Should Have Known Better.

If you’re not familiar with The John Lennon Series, let me quickly fill you in. This is Book Four in the series, which goes through the entire life of John Lennon in a storytelling format. They are NOT fiction books but tell the story of John through dialogue, using words John really said in interviews and written material.

This book starts in March of 1964 and ends in December of 1964. So, you get to live through the making of A Hard Day’s Night, holidays, premieres of the film in London and Liverpool, The Beatles’ World Tour,  North American Tour, and U.K. Autumn Tour.

The biggest thing you will take from this book is just how exhausting the year was for all The Beatles, especially John. Being the only married Beatle, John not only had to focus on concerns of the band and all of the touring, but he also had a wife and child to think about. During 1964, John’s home, Kenwood, was purchased, and the Lennons moved into the home to start remodeling it. Anyone that has moved and done remodeling knows how stressful that can be. John also had written a book (In His Own Write) that was published and needed to be promoted. John had very, very few days off from being a Beatle in 1964. It is almost exhausting reading about everything going on.

One interesting thing from the book is that you get to read Cynthia’s side of all this – about her unbelievable devotion towards John. Her love for him never wavered, even though she wasn’t sure just how faithful John was while he was away. And that is another thing – I wondered how Kessler would handle the extramarital activities that we all know John was partaking in during 1964. She does it with respect and tact. It isn’t ignored in the book but is seen through the eyes of Cyn, and her questioning of what is going on and wondering if the rumors she has heard are true, but suppressing her fears.

The only thing I questioned in the book was John’s devotion to Cyn. I have no doubt that John loved Cyn, but I just wasn’t quite sure how in love with her he was in 1964. I didn’t realize he called her so much during the North American tour or that he came back home to London on the one day The Beatles had off during the U.K. Tour specifically to be with his wife. Maybe what I had believed all these years about John’s feelings isn’t true. Maybe we will never know, because who can know someone’s feelings?

This book is HUGE, and it takes a long time to read. The good thing is that the sections are very small, so you can break up the book into parts. I hear that an e-book version is out, which would make it much easier to take with you. If you aren’t sure about The John Lennon Series, this would be a great book to start with. Give it a chance.

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