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David Beckham Book Reviews

Looking for a good football read? Soccerphile reviews some of our favourite David Beckham books.

David Beckham: My World

David Beckham, Dean Freeman (Photographer)

My World: Buy this book from Amazon.ISBN: 0340792701
224 pp

Well, welcome to Beckham's world everyone, and what a world it is. Insightful, exciting, thoughtful, provocative, moving - all words you should be shot for using within a mile of this book. Apparently, this edition contains "sensational new material". Exactly where is a mystery, unless the fact that Victoria will "often make a lasagna or something" when entertaining, or the revelation that he's never seen Taxi Driver qualify as sensational.
Now, don't get me wrong, I wanted this book to somehow dispel the common Beckham image; to maybe prove that there's more to him than the empty headed caricature that he's usually portrayed as. I really did, but with My World he doesn't do himself any favours. Here we have an autobiography (and I think we safely say there was no ghost-writer involved) of which over half of the 200-odd pages are photographs - admittedly good action shots; Beckham in numerous crucifixion-style poses; personal favourite, Beckham deep in thought up a tree " and, to be more than fair, not a great deal else. Everything in his life so far is given the Beckham literary treatment - skirted over and mentioned as if in passing.
Now, and I'm sure others will agree with me here, if I read an autobiography I want to read at least the odd interesting thing. I want anecdotes, I want behind-the-scenes insight, I want information, but we get none of this. Even the sections on the finest moments of his playing career so far never fail to utterly disappoint. His goal against Colombia at France 98, his first for England, is singled out as being special because it fulfilled a boyhood dream that we all have - scoring in the World Cup finals. His description of this amazing, life-affirming moment is, "I just felt right for that one and it curved and dropped in." And…erm…that's about it really. What can you say? It's an experience I know I, for one, will never have and can't even come close to imagining, so wouldn't mind, you know, maybe a bit of insight into how it felt to fulfill a dream that millions have. For me, that's the point of reading this kind of book. I would love to know how it feels to be in that position and the nearest I will ever get to it is reading someone else describing it as best they can. Unfortunately you're left feeling that this is the best he can do. Where's the emotion, the excitement, the…well...anything really?
Everything else is skimmed over in a similar manner, from his childhood (played football a lot; didn't do too well at school; had a friend) through his career to date with Man U and England (it happened; he scored some goals) to his private life (met someone; got married; had a kid). "And?" and "So what?" were the recurring thoughts at the front of my mind when reading it.
I'm sure if you're a big Beckham fan there'll be something in here for you, especially if you're one of the hordes of his fanciers or 6 years old, but the only saving grace for me was how short it is. So, to sum up in Beckham' s own formidable prose style - I read Beckham's book. It wasn't very good.

Paul Robinson

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The Beckham

The Beckham Experiment

Grant Wahl

ISBN: 030740787X
Crown Publishing Group; Hardback, 304pp

The Beckham Experiment charts Goldenballs' US adventure from its stirrings in 2006 to his loan move to AC Milan in the winter of 2008. Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl writes skillfully and provides a telling insight into the misadventures of trying to run a football club on purely commercial, or more accurately celebrity lines.
The sniping from across the Atlantic had a point: LA Galaxy was commandeered by media types with no feel for the game but who could waive enough loot in the face of a league desperate for acceptance.
The hangers-on of 19 Entertainment ended up trying to run a football club for the benefit of one player and met their Waterloo when the team suffered and the star man upped sticks. Elusive former cabbie turned Beckham-confidant Terry Byrne, whom Wahl failed to nail down, emerges as the key to the farrago. Byrne's Chelsea connections were key to the misguided hiring of Ruud Gullit, whose personality and lack of preparation meant he lasted only nine months.
While the PR events were stage-managed to perfection, the meat and drink of the club were neglected so much that the Galaxy, Beckham included, were reduced to dining on fried chicken in cheap hotels, while office staff filled in for the reserves on one occasion. Gasp if you did not already know Becks, who lives in Hollywood luxury and rakes in around $30 million a year, plays alongside guys who share flats and earn only $13,000 per annum.
We learn far less about Beckham than we do about his colleagues, understandably since his media appearances undergo Pravda-esque vetting, but it is clear he is a quiet and unremarkable personality who soon realised he had erred in coming to America. Wahl scores highly by providing hitherto missing information and interviews which fill in the background to this global media event.
No soccer book has ever had so much publicity in the US, although its timing remains unsatisfactory, released just before Beckham's run-ins with beered-up fans made headline news. An updated edition is required when the Beckham Experiment is finally over, but for an in-depth low-down on what has happened thus far, this is the book.

Sean O'Conor

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My Story: David Beckham - buy this book from Amazon.

David Beckham: My Story

David Beckham, Neil Harman

ISBN: 0233993851
160 pp

From the moment you open the book and read the first chapter, you know how it ends. Or do you? Written back in 1998, the book tells the story of David Beckham to that point in his relatively young life, a life that has seen success after success. There have been lows also, and this book is a genuinely interesting insight into David Beckham's meteoric rise from gifted schoolboy, into one of the most recognised and photographed men in the world.
From pictures of him as a young lad lined up next to his teammates after winning the Fyfield five-a-side football tournament; playing for Manchester United in the Champions League; scoring for England in the 1998 World Cup in France; relaxing in his spare time with his wife Victoria, to appearing at a Versace fashion show in Milan, you realise when reading this book just what an amazing life David Beckham has had.
He talks openly at the sense of pride he feels when he thinks about all his achievements: from setting the all time record points score at the Bobby Charlton Soccer Coaching School, to making his debut for both the Manchester United first team as well as his national side. He comes across as a very humble man who is simply, and justifiably, thrilled with his lot in life-and of course at what he has achieved.
You sense the passion he has for the game, and the genuine joy he feels when his boyhood team, Manchester United, attain success with him in the side, and the pride that comes with pulling on his England jersey. This is not just his own pride, but the pride he knows his family and friends feel for him. However it must also be said that the book lacks something in its writing. There is nothing intellectual in what is written or said, and you occasionally get the feeling that you are simply reading just another life story without becoming emotionally involved. Even the disappointment at being sent off in the 1998 World Cup in France lacks expression in the telling of the tale. Published in 1998 there is nothing of Manchester United's famous treble winning campaign, his appointment as England captain, his infamous bust-ups with his long-time manager and mentor, Sir Alex Ferguson, or of course of his multi-million dollar transfer to the mighty Real Madrid. David Beckham: My Story is definitely worth reading, but be aware that, like his career, the book has its high points .. and its low.

Paul Harvey

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When Beckham Went to Spain: Click on the image to purchase.

When Beckham Went to Spain: Power, Stardom and Real Madrid  

Jimmy Burns

ISBN: 0718147472
Paperback, 272pp
Michael Joseph

The prospect of another hagiography of Goldenballs would sink the hearts of all but the starry-eyed teenager, but this one is different. What makes this worth reading is the fact that Becks’ celebrity circus has touched down in Spain, a country a world away from England, and specifically at Real Madrid, a galaxy away from Manchester United. In fact, those of us jaded by the prospect of more Beckhamology will be pleasantly surprised by the fact Jimmy Burns largely ignores him.
Few are better qualified to write this tale than Burns. The author is half Spanish, grew up in Madrid and has published a guide to Spanish literature as well as working for the FT, BBC & The Economist amongst others. His two football works, ‘Barça " A People’s Passion’ and ‘Hand of God - The Life of Diego Maradona’ were top-drawer football texts and not Harry Harris-style sycophantic potboilers. The book weaves between Beckham’s celebrity and Spain’s story of Franco, Catalonia, corridas, cojones and futebol.
Beckham comes across as a tool for Real, a man of little intrinsic substance who will ultimately not amount to much. We learn little here we do not already know about Goldenballs and there is more evidence that the end of his Real days will come to pass thanks to the increasingly destructive provincial mindset and xenophobic tantrums of his far from ‘posh’ wife Victoria.

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So You Think You Know David Beckham: Buy this book from Amazon.

So You Think You Know David Beckham?

Clive Gifford

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN: 0340877650
152 pp

Question: what do penguins, department store Marks and Spencer, Beauty and the Beast, roman numerals, artificial legs, Albania, the NSPCC and the LA Lakers have in common?
Answer: They are all answers in the "So You Think You Know David Beckham " The Unofficial Quiz Book".
At first glance, the book seems like it would serve well as something to stuff under that wonky table leg. "What is the first name of David's wife?" and "What sort of flower does David send Victoria when they are apart?" and "David's first car was a Ford Escort, a Vauxhall Cavalier, a Lotus Espirit (sic) or a VW Beetle?"
Do we care? Let me think for a moment. No we don't.
But then we start trying to answer the football-related questions. "Which England manager was the first to pick him for England?" I know I should know the answer to this, but who was it? How about this one: "What is the lowest division Manchester United have played in?" or "Before the 1990s, when was the last time Manchester United won the English league championship?" Hmm. "At which English league ground was the England v Mexico game of 2001 played?" Erm.
Already outdated, the book is "Man U-centric" and has Beckham as a player in that team as can be seen from some of the questions above - even though it was published in 2003. The publishers must have cursed their luck when "David" was transferred to Real Madrid, but still I bet quite a lot of kids and pub quiz aficionados were happy to find this book in their Christmas stocking.

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David Beckham: My Son by Ted Beckham.

David Beckham: My Son

Ted Beckham

ISBN: 0752225960
240 pp with 300 colour images

Dad Ted cashes in on his son's fame or a devoted father charts the tale of his kid's rise from park football to the Bernebeu? Ted, a gas engineer, still needs to pay the bills after a messy divorce from David's mum Sandra so who can blame him. There are 300 colour photos from the Beckham family albums to drool over. David and Posh are supposedly none too pleased.

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VII: David Beckham: Buy this book from Amazon.

VII: David Beckham

Amy Lawrence, Dean Freeman

ISBN: 0297851438
192 pp

Observer and Guardian journalist Amy Lawrence, who penned the excellent prose, and 'My World' photographer Dean Freeman combine on this stylish tribute to David Beckham.

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There's Only One David Beckham: Buy this book from Amazon.

There's Only One David Beckham

Stafford Hildred, Tim Ewbank

ISBN: 1904034721
256 pp

If a 265-page hagiography of David Beckham is missing from your life, then you are just a click away from fulfilling that vital need. There's Only One David Beckham consists of choice vignettes from El David's time to date on the planet earth, hundreds upon hundreds of fawning quotes, and many black-and-white photos (and some color) that feature nearly every hairstyle of a "sports and fashion icon."
From his humble beginnings in East London to his rise to the top of the world's most popular game, from his marriage to a pop star to the birth of his son Brooklyn, the sending off against Argentina to his many brilliant goals - it's all there.
Choice quotes include: "He epitomises all that's great about being British" (Piers Morgan, The Daily Mirror), "Basically he's got a gift from God…" (boxer Prince Naseem Hamed), "I'm in love with David Beckham" (straight actor James Nesbitt), "David Beckham is my ultimate hero" (rock star Usher), and hundreds more. And to top it all off, according to the authors: "The man who has everything is also a genuinely nice guy. Critics take note." Readers take note: you can't live without it or Him.

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El Becks: Buy this book from Amazon.

El Becks: A Season In The Sun

Alex Leith

ISBN: 0954642805
296 pp

Like Beckham's first year in Spain, El Becks is a mixed effort. Written by ex-English teacher and Madrid resident Alex Leith the book details "Beykan's'" first season in the white of Real Madrid. There's the initial honeymoon period as the demanding Real Madrid fans take Beckham to their hearts for his unstinting efforts for the team and then the disappointment and resentment as Madrid lose form and rumours of Beckham's personal life hit the tabloids.

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White Angels: Buy this book from Amazon.

White Angels: Beckham, Real Madrid

John Carlin

ISBN: 074757345X

White Angels looks at how David Beckham’s transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid took place and the machinations and intrigue behind the deal. The book details Beckham’s first year at Real, and how he fared on the pitch itself alongside the likes of Figo, Zidane, Carlos, Raul and Ronaldo.

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Brand It Like Beckham: Buy this book from Amazon.

Brand It Like Beckham: The Story Of How Brand Beckham Was Built

Andy Milligan

ISBN: 0954282957
208 pp

An insightful text for understanding the business of global celebrity, the book provides a detailed look into the Beckham marketing phenomenon - a fascinating glimpse of how brand consultants' minds work.

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Really Bend It Like Beckham: Buy this DVD from Amazon.

Really Bend It Like Beckham

Release Date: October 4, 2004

In this programme, which was filmed in Madrid, David shares his knowledge, skills and experience. His technique is dissected using the ultimate in technology and the programme is broken down into easy-to-use sections - control, space-making skills, passing and working for space, turning skills and forward play, crossing, closing down and defending, finishing and free kicks.

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David Beckham: Made In Manchester: Buy this book from Amazon.

David Beckham: Made in Manchester

Eamonn Clarke, James Clarke

ISBN: 0954684303
144 pp

Eamonn and James Clarke, the Manchester paparrazi duo, have recorded Becks' unofficial story in images from his earliest days at Manchester United to his move to Real Madrid. Good pix but a lame text.

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David Beckham: My Side: Buy this book from Amazon.

David Beckham: My Side

David Beckham with Tom Watts

ISBN: 0007157320
448 pp

More Beckham on Beckham through the medium of collaborator Tom Watts, this one covers the games he has played and his career with Manchester United and England up to signing with Real Madrid in 2003.

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David Beckham: Made In Manchester: Buy this book from Amazon.

David Beckham: The Great Betrayal

Virginia Blackburn

ISBN: 1844540162
288 pp

Sub-titled "The Inside Story of How Britain's Greatest Football Club Lost Their Greatest Player." More on the Alex Ferguson - David Beckham split from a decidedly Becksian angle.

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Beckham and Ferguson - Divided They Stand: Buy this book from Amazon.

Beckham and Ferguson: Divided They Stand

Jason Thomas

ISBN: 0750936754
192 pp

Interesting read on the Beckham - Ferguson relationship and their subsequent well-publicized bust-up.

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The Real David Beckham: Buy this book from Amazon.

The Real David Beckham: An Intimate Biography

Gaynor Morgan

ISBN: 1843581205
289 pp

The author, Gaynor Morgan, daughter of former Manchester United winger Willie Morgan claims an amorous Becks pursued her while he was still in the red of his former team. The book also compares the lives of the two Manchester United number sevens of different generations.

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