Saturday, 27 October 2012

Book review: The Damned United by David Peace

The Damned UtdThe Damned Utd by David Peace
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a lover of David Peace, but I've not read many (if any!) football novels.
I'd heard of the film, The Damned United, and I knew Michael Sheen played Brian Clough, but I knew nothing about the actual man himself. I wasn't born until 1992, so most of the references to footballers went straight over my head, apart from Kevin Keegan, George Best and Peter Shilton.
The story follows Brian Clough during two periods of time, simultaneously. The first part covers his managing of Hartlepools, then Derby, then Brighton, before meeting up with Leeds. While the second part covers just Leeds.
David Peace is an extraordinary writer, when you start reading it feels like you're taking a deep breath and going underwater. You're submerged in his world, and it's amazing. The pace just zips along.
With this book it's quite hard to explain why I gave it four stars. To be honest, my expectations were high, so I started with five. I think if I'd been around at the time of Brian Clough, been aware of what he was like as a man and a manager, and his teams I would have given this five. For me, I got a bit confused as to what section we were in sometimes, and there are so many football players' names to remember.
As I was reading the book I spoke to my parents about Brian Clough. They're old enough to remember him and from the book I gather he was hardly off the TV in his heyday. They didn't particularly like the man, but from reading this, I kind of did.
I know it's not written by Brian Clough, but despite his arrogance and his penchant for speaking his mind, no matter who it hurts, the character came across as a man trying to do his best.

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