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Justin Fashanu the Biography [Hardcover]

Jim Read
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
Price: 14.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

2 April 2012
For over 20 years Justin Fashanu was the only professional footballer anywhere in the world who had come out as gay. This first account of his life shows how he survived the bullying of Brian Clough, public rejection by his brother, John, and abuse from the terraces. But it also tells of clubs eager to sign him, support from managers and team mates, and affection from supporters. As a child, Justin Fashanu was put into care and eventually raised by white foster parents in Norfolk. At a time when black players were routinely subjected to racist abuse he rose to fame as a forward for Norwich City where he scored a famous goal. He became the first black player to command a £1million transfer fee when he joined Nottingham Forest. A knee injury forced him out of top level football. Desperate for the wealth and celebrity he had lost, Fashanu s attempts to sell fabricated sex scandals to the tabloid press ended in a humiliating exit from Britain. Based in the USA for several years, he returned to England when facing charges of sexual assault and committed suicide. This meticulously researched book shows Justin Fashanu to be a complex character, whose life was full of incident, conflict and controversy on and off the pitch. Perhaps the biggest conflict of all was between his beliefs as a bornagain Christian and his sexual orientation, one which was still tormenting him in the last hours of his life. At a time when British professional football is trying to tackle its reputation for homophobia, this biography is a timely reminder that an openly gay man has already played for clubs in England and Scotland. It has taken this detailed investigation to give a balanced account of his positive and negative experiences. Justin Fashanu was a charming man who became a reluctant pioneer. He showed courage in persisting with his career and speaking back to his critics. This flawed hero is a significant figure in football, in the story of black people in Britain and in gay history. This is the story of his fascinating life.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: DB Publishing (2 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780910142
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780910147
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 376,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

This book brings together Jim Read s passions for human rights, life stories and football. His previous publications have covered equal opportunities at work, the lives of people treated in the mental health system, and psychiatric drugs.He is a Leicester City fan and contributor to The Fox fanzine.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found this biography of Justin Fashanu so interesting that I wondered why nobody had written his life-story sooner. But I don't think anyone could have improved on way this author handles the dramatic changes of fortune in football stardom, the impact of transracial fostering and racist abuse, and the clash between homosexuality and born-again Christianity, all of which impacted on this vulnerable young man's life.

The author's love for football and his respect and empathy for his subject keep us riveted to each twist and turn of the story, as Fashanu's talent and dedication take him almost to the top, with all the fame and wealth he craved, only for a tragedy of Shakespearean drama and inevitability to unfold. One of a very few black footballers in the late 70s and early 80s, Fashanu was routinely subjected to a daily barrage of racist abuse from the terraces and on the field, that would be a hard test for anyone, let alone someone with a shaky sense of identity from a disrupted early childhood.

Read's meticulous research lets us share as much as can be known about the crises in the young man's life, and the reasons for the choices he and those around him made. He deals clearly and honestly with the difficult issues, keeping a touch of humour and lightness that enables Fashanu's engaging personality to shine through. It is a book that can be read as a fascinating life story, but also offers much to anyone concerned with racism in sport, young care-leavers or mental health.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, insightful biography 13 April 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Football biographies are not something I normally read because so many of them are dreadful, but this is an excellent, readable and in places genuinely gripping book. It is a very well written and thoroughly researched biography of a highly complex sportsman and also paints a vivid and subtle picture of his influence on the history of race relations and of attitudes to gays and lesbians in Britain.

Fashanu's story is itself a fascinating one as a black player at a time when there were very few of them in Britain and crude racism was often unchallenged, and then as the only openly gay footballer anywhere in the world. Jim Read writes very intelligently and refuses to resort to assumption or stereotype in assessing the prejudices faced by Fashanu. He writes, for example, of the culture of banter in sport and of the difference between "...teasing intended to include and taunting intended to exclude." Insights like this give the book balance and a remarkable depth of understanding both of Fashanu himself and of other players, managers and fans. Read does not spare bigoted fans or people like Brian Clough whose homophobic bullying did Fashanu so much damage, but also reports times like when Fashanu played for Airdrie whose fans - a notoriously tough bunch - affectionately chanted "He's black, he's gay, he plays for Air-da-ray, Fashanu, Fashanu," and includes an eloquent photograph of his Airdrie team-mates embracing him after scoring. It is a real achievement to paint a complex picture so clearly.

Fashanu himself was equally complex. Evidence from a lot of people who knew him shows that he could be charming, generous of spirit and kind, but could also be a manipulative, grasping, cruel, self-serving liar.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars clear and moving account 6 April 2012
By BeeS
A gripping and rounded account of a complex life that I really enjoyed. Professionally, I was more likely to be interested in the issues around Justin's sexuality, his childhood and his connection with Norwich. But Jim Reads writing about both football and politics is both erudite and page turning.
Its all the more interesting, in the light of this present tabloid crisis, to see the power of the press then, and his own ambivalent relationship with publicity-seeking, shaping his career and life
Incidentally, the book itself is lovely.. worth spending on it to get the cover, the photos and layout,which you'll miss with the kindle version.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a football book 3 April 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I absolutely loved this book. I have read many football biographies and some are just bland rehashes of careers. This is a fascinating insight into a complex man and a talented player. From his days as a Barnados boy with his brother John, to his rejection by his natural mother and his subsequent suicide it is a tragic tale throughout, but in between there are some great times. His homosexuality is now well documented but how he was treated in such a macho environment and how he reacted to it is written with great insight. It is a highly recommended read for football fans, but for non-football fans this book offers a great deal too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JanToms, Isle of Wight 12 May 2012
As someone who has little interest in football or celebrity, I found myself overwhelmed by Jim Read's sensitive, insightful and impeccably researched biography of Justin Fashanu.

Justin was fostered in rural Norfolk where his racial identity made it almost impossible for him to fit in. His father left his mother. She in turn found another husband and took back one of her children - but not Justin or his brother John. How confusing it must have been to visit her new family while being excluded. Happily, his foster family gave him the security he needed.

Justin was handsome, charming and a brilliant footballer. I was amazed to find myself caught up in the passion of individual football matches, the highs and lows of chasing victory. His clashes with Brian Clough - which bordered on abuse and the fickle support of the football crowds left him forever in a minefield. Suddenly rich, he was wildly extravagant. He also had a surprising friendship with Peter Tatchell.

Thanks to his Christian beliefs, he suffered the dilemma of being true to his own sexuality in the face of Christian condemnation. In the end, it all proved too much for him.

I would urge anyone interested in the human condition to read this excellent book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This is a fearless book, written with passion for football and a deep desire to understand Fashanu without whitewashing him. I loved it.
Published 3 months ago by Christocalena
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, well researched and very well constructed
One of the best 'sports' books I've ever read. Although to call this a sports book would be to do it a disservice. It's so much more than that. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Ben Tagoe
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Very well researched insight into the difficult and turbulent life of ,for me , one of Norwich City's great heroes
Published 11 months ago by ian hayes
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful
A fascinating and insightful read, particularly as I played in the same Norwich Youth team, and roomed with Justin in 1978. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Mr. G. M. Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, insightful biography
Football biographies are not something I normally read because so many of them are dreadful, but this is an excellent, readable and in places genuinely gripping book. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Sid Nuncius
5.0 out of 5 stars john fashanu biography
very interesting book about the ups and downs of john fashanu.although it is a lot about football it is about his life and coming to terms with his gay life aswell
Published 21 months ago by Mrs. Cynthia M. Carney
5.0 out of 5 stars Justin Fashanu - The Forgotten Genius
After watching the Justin Fashanu Fallen Hero documentary on Yotube 1998, I became fascinated in a footballer that was probaly one of the most articulate, smartest and sensitive... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Area88
5.0 out of 5 stars what a great book
What a great book this is - the author has done a superb job to produce a well-researched, entertaining and at times quite gripping read. Read more
Published on 14 April 2012 by Thurstine
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended
An excellent read. "Fash" was recently inaugurated into the Norwich City Hall of Fame - to this day he is fondly remembered in Norfolk and this is a fine testimonial to the... Read more
Published on 5 April 2012 by MalcB
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