When Paris Went Dark is a penetrating history of the anxiety, confusion, claustrophobia, and uncertainty experienced by a city in the grip of an unpredictable menace.
And Man Created God is an impressively detailed and panoramic survey of how power and piety interacted with one another in the increasingly globalized classical world.
While there are obvious downsides to the kind of discography that the Beach Boys have assembled -- it's dense, lengthy, and larded with inconsistent results -- one of the payoffs deserves special mention: those moments of discovery.
Books about the Fab Four need to justify themselves. The Beatles Solo, a handsome but information-light and overpriced doorstop, doesn't get there.