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When Giants Walked The Earth Book Review

This is my official review of When Giants Walked The Earth by Mick Wall.

Having read the previous two 'big' Led Zeppelin biographies, I was excited to delve into the latest one. Mick Wall's When Giants Walked The Earth, it is certainly the longest in terms of number of pages (including some great pics) and easily the best, IMHO. Especially since Jimmy Page himself, denounced at least one of those early bios. And Mr. Wall sets the record straight with a disclaimer that this is an unauthorised bio and that he isn't going to "anything other than tell the story as I honestly see it". I find this refreshing, and well, honest.

He opens with an italicised 'flashback' 2nd person narrative where the reader is projected to be the person written about. (Again, he reminds us that these are the product of his imagination, and not actual quotes etc from the band members). For example, the first sentence of the book is You are Jimmy Page. (the first chapter goes on this way for several pages, dealing with his time in the Yardbirds and his friendship with Jeff Beck). There are several passages like this throughout the book, depending on the timeline of Led Zeppelin's career. I really like this way of writing, it provides a unique perspective and makes things much more compelling

Moreover, there is not alot of fluff or extranious nonsense, he gets right into the heart of the matter, starting with Jimmy Page in 1968, and each subsequent chapter goes back and forth a few years and gives a great back story, each time, with a different member of the band, including manager Peter Grant, referred to as "G".

This is a real history of the band, going into all the early bands and pre-Zeppelin careers of each member. Mick Wall has great insight into the band, who, as the inside cover points out was a confidante of both Page and Plant, and he speaks honestly and ernestly, and he seems to have all the facts straight, something which the other books do not. There are parts where he does go off on, what to me, are unimportant and non-germane tangents, for example, when he is talking about Jimmy Page and his love for the occult and how he bought the house once owned by Aleister Crowley, he spends far too much time on everything Crowley believed in, and strays from the Led Zeppelin story quite a bit. I felt he should have just dedicated a small amount of time to this and Page's interest in it. ( I skipped this entire chapter, as it did not really interest me).

He also goes into more depth about Peter Grant, more than I remember the other books discussed. He was quite an important and volatile figure in the Led Zeppelin saga, in fact, I would almost go so far as to say that Led Zeppelin may not have had the career they had, without him. And we finally get the low-down on the infamous fish story (which happened the day before my birthday!!). It also includes two small sections of some great pics, some new, some old, including one from the reunion show in 2007.

Other than one or two tangents, this is an excellent bio of The Greatest Band In The World!! I highly recommend it for any Led Zeppelin fan. I wanted to keep this review short for a couple of reasons, one, if it were too long, I would lose people with shorter attention spans, and two, I wanted to include just enough info to keep people interested in buying the book and not have any Spoiler Alerts. So go buy the damn book, already, I know you will enjoy it as much as I did (and still am, as I have not quite finished it, yet.)

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Expert Rocker
Comment by Zeppy on April 22, 2011 at 5:10pm
I think this is much better than Hammer Of The Gods, more insightful and informative, and I especially like the italicised 2nd person narrative.

network founder!
Comment by Rich Page on April 22, 2011 at 5:07pm
Great review - thanks for sharing! Sounds much better than that new book by Stephen Davis about the Led Zeppelin tour of 1975, called LZ 75 (which seems like a rehash of his original great book, Hammer of the Gods). Was this better than Hammer of the Gods? That was my favorite so far.

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