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Best and Edwards [Paperback]

Gordon Burn
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

2 Aug 2007

Duncan Edwards played his first game for Manchester United at the age of fifteen and Walter Winterbottom, then England manager, called him 'the spirit of British football'. On £15-a-week, Edwards was the most prized of the Busby Babes. Then in February 1958 came Munich.

Half a decade later George Best represented United reborn. 'Georgie' of the boutiques and dolly birds; 'El Beatle' of the European Cup in '68 and European Player of the Year; in the opinion of Pele, the most naturally talented footballer that ever lived. Retired at 27 and reduced to the role of Chelsea barfly and tabloid perennial; George, where did it all go wrong?

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (2 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571215815
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571215812
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 517,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Absorbing from start to finish ... Burns captures the two eras perfectly - and with a style and elegance appropriate to the Red Devils.' -- Irish Times

'Burn is one of the best writers in the country ... A book about so many more things than just football.'
-- Nicholas Lezard, Guardian, August 11, 2007

Book Description

One football club, two players and the fame that destroyed them.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An awesome book about an awesome duo. 12 Jan 2007
Right from the beginning of this superb book it`s pretty obvious that Gordon Burn is not a football writer. He avoids the long, boring passages found in virtually all football writing which describe how so and so crossed the ball for what`s his name in the thirty-fifth minute of the match. Instead of that type of dross he goes for the jugular of his subjects. Duncan Edwards and George Best. Chalk and cheese yet peas in a pod. Both Manchester United legends, both gone before they should have gone. Edwards a product of the short back and sides era, Best the first real playboy football star. The common links with the two of them are Matt Busby and Bobby Charlton. Great football men in their own right. Both men survived the Munich horror which claimed Edwards and both men witnessed George Best`s career die an early death. The main thrust of the book is the contrast between the lifestyles of the two title characters and how society had changed drastically in the few years separating their appearances. I have read every book written about George, but I discovered some interesting, and not always flattering, facts here. As for Duncan, the more I read the more I regret never having seen him play. Awesome.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing Read 28 Oct 2006
This is a rarity - an intellegent book about football. Every true football fan and - especially - every Manchester United fan should read it. As well as being about two of the greatest players the British game has produced it's about what has happened to the game - and indeed Britan itself - over the past fifty years. Although the book is about Edwards and Best the fulcrum around which it turns is actually Bobby Charlton. This book is written with intellegence and insight and is light years away from the normal fare served up to football followers. If you love and care about the British game then read this book. It's brilliant.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There is little doubt that Burns is a writer who in applying his literary precision was never thankfully going to write a typical football biography, as his great book on professional snooker "Pocket Money" fully demonstrated. While here the choice of subjects is very well intertwined with many fascinating insights and much to appreciate on Manchester United as not being the dream palace many might have thought in the '50s and '60s and the underpin of the trajectory of the separate careers and different personalities of Matt Busby as not quite the saintly personna many claimed and Bobby Charlton as a troubled soul post Munich, I must admit I found the overall result finally lacking.

The key reasons for this are firstly that by being the more recent and better documented subject and having been observed by the author in his closing years in his favourite London pub, Best does over dominate the book. This is reflected by the many out of chronological order inserts of ""The legend of the holy drinker" that occur throughout the book on Best's alcoholism to the detriment of all else, even on the Best history.

Secondly, while rightly questioning people's perceptions of fame and depictions of past events when a hero dies, in the case of Edwards when documenting his visits to his hometown of Dudley, Burns seems to be more struck by trying to document accents and depicting the poor quality of lives in the early 21st century than appreciating that it was probably always thus but now the loss of jobs and decline of industry in that area makes it more painful.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dunc and Disorderly 26 Oct 2006
While eyeing the shelves groaning this season with semi-literate footballers' 'autobiographies' with as much longevity as, well, as a premiership footballer, spare a thought for Best and Edwards, a real work of literature - of art, even - about football, by a real writer.

Gordon Burn has tackled "the psychopathology of fame" before - most notably in his novel Alma Cogan - and here he comes at it from two angles, featuring the "trajectory of two careers unmoored in wildly different ways." Duncan Edwards, the rising star of Manchester United and England, died in the Munich air crash in 1958 aged 21. Within the next 10 years Man U would have a new star, George Best, considered by Pele to be "the greatest footballer in the world." Best died too, but only after decades of alcohol abuse and one of the most ignominious descents ever witnessed in broad daylight by the eyes of the world and the media.

And the media is the third character in this extraordinary book. Because what Burn is interested in is not just the contrasting stories of Edwards and Best, but the whole shift in fame that occurred then, when fame went and 'celebrity' arrived. "Celebrity," in Burn's eyes, "is an indicator of how far fame has come adrift from real achievement - of how personality has replaced output as the measure of fame." And this leads him into the sort of analysis that we don't expect in soccer biographies (but this is no mere soccer biography):

"This is a kind of fame that can be - almost always is - conveniently and irretrievably wiped. It is a thin, weightless thing and mostly exists as a series of electronically generated pulses and pixels.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the worst book I have ever read
Possibly the worst book I have ever read. I have given it one star because I am not allowed to give it none.
Published 1 month ago by p sanderson
5.0 out of 5 stars with Gordon Burns' beautiful, rhythmic
I've only just started the book and am totally absorbed, as always, with Gordon Burns' beautiful, rhythmic, subtle, friendly, honest, poetic and startling writing. Read more
Published 1 month ago by JoJacques
5.0 out of 5 stars football legend
brilliant book really enjoyed this book , went into great detail especially about George best, stuff that I did not know about until reading the book
Published 2 months ago by alice
5.0 out of 5 stars Best & Edwards Two Legends Revealed
Two great United legends, but poles apart as personalities and players. Imagine if they had played in the same team. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Saint and the Sinner
I think Gordon Burns has avoided the charge of opportunism and sensationalism in publishing this book soon after the death of George Best by telling a more interesting story of two... Read more
Published on 27 Aug 2012 by paperbackliker
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Football story
This book is a fantastic read contrasting the way both players reacted to their fame and celebrity. Edwards was the star of his day and the cog around which the Busby Babes... Read more
Published on 29 Jan 2010 by King Eric
4.0 out of 5 stars Best & Edwards
I delightful account of the lives of two of MAnchester United greatest players, Geroge Best and Duncan Edwards and their relationship with their manager Matt Busby. Read more
Published on 11 Feb 2009 by S. Surenthiraraj
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for footy fans
This book is well researched and draws from many football and non-football sources. I am not a football fan but I did buy a copy for a footy friend and he read it very quickly and... Read more
Published on 9 Feb 2009 by Dudley
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