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on 10 December 2008
Manchester United: The Biography is a finely written book, but not without its flaws. Principal among these is its bias. White may be a journalist, but he is also a die-hard United fan, and he writes like one. While this brings a certain authenticity to the work, it also renders it nigh-on unreadable for anyone who isn't of a United persuasion. I'm a United fan myself, but even I found myself cringing at some of White's assertions. There is a particularly distasteful passage in which White compares the 1958 Munich air disaster to the tragedies at Hillsborough, Heysel and Valley Parade and concludes that Munich had "a much more intense symbolism". United are praised for recovering more quickly from the disaster than Italian side Torino did when their team was wiped out in a similar accident in 1949, but the whole business of comparing tragedies leaves a sour taste and would probably better have been avoided.

In White's defence, though, he's not afraid to criticise, and key figures such as Roy Keane, Bryan Robson, Cristiano Ronaldo, former chairman Martin Edwards and even Alex Ferguson himself are all castigated for their perceived failings.

There are also, as Pat Stenson notes, multiple factual errors. That they appear in the book is probably a testament to White's confidence in his own memory of the events he witnessed first-hand, but even a cursory glance at YouTube will reveal that Brian Kidd was not wearing a "blazer" when he leapt on the pitch to celebrate the crucial 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday in 1992-1993, while a cursory glance at Wikipedia will tell you that Jaap Stam was indeed bought from PSV Eindhoven rather than Ajax.

One of the most obvious errors occurs on the very last page, where White refers to United youngster Danny Welbeck as "Daniel Welback". When White was writing the book Welbeck was still very much an unknown, but he has since made his Premier League debut (scoring a superb goal against Stoke in the process), and the fact the mistake is in the very last paragraph means it colours your final assessment of the book's accuracy.

Likewise, White sometimes shows a fondness for anecdotal evidence that is impossible to verify. The story about a player submerging himself in a bath of freezing cold water for half an hour to escape one of Ferguson's trademark rants certainly raises a smile, but it's almost definitely untrue.

But in spite of all that, the book is a tremendous achievement, and White's wide-ranging account of United's history is informed by the enormous role the club has evidently played in his own life. He is at his best when writing about the Tommy Docherty era of the late 1970s, when United emerged from the old Second Division to become once again one of the most entertaining sides in the land, and it is clear that it was during this period that White was first blooded on the raucous Old Trafford terraces. Now a journalist, his account of the Ferguson era is accompanied by intriguing chunks of insider information, lending a freshness to a period in the club's history that has been extremely well-documented already thanks to the huge growth of media interest in the game over the last 15 years or so.

This book is an insightful, warm-hearted and at times beautifully written love letter to White's favourite club and fellow fanatics will find much to savour in it. Neutrals and United fans not blinded by their love of the club, on the other hand, may find it a little harder to swallow.
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on 15 September 2008
This is another excellent book about United by Jim White. Far from the usual dull collection of facts and figures, this is an incisive, insightful journey through the history of Manchester United. From the early days of Newton Heath, through the barren inter-war years, the magical Busby Babes to the trophy-laden Ferguson years, White gives a superb illustration of the character of United and the characters that made the club what it is today. He superbly illustrates the backdrop of a changing industrial city with passion and humour, perfectly placing the reader in the realities of the day.

The only criticism I would have is that there are numerous glaring factual errors - for example, the words 'Football Club' were removed from the badge in 1998, not the initials 'F.C'; Gordon McQueen did not equalise in the 1979 Cup Final, rather Sammy McIlroy after McQueen had pulled one back (despite what Lou Macari bizarrely states!); Bryan Robson did not score 'the winner' in the 1994 FA Cup Semi-final, but the third goal in a 4-1 victory; and Jaap Stam was signed from PSV, not Ajax.
These are small details, however. On the whole this is a hugely entertaining read. Highly recommended.
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on 4 September 2008
This is an excellent book. I just finished translating it for the Dutch market. Being Dutch, I wasn't that familiar with a lot of things going on in English football. You get to know a lot about the whole history of United. Jim White obviously had the opportunity to talk with a lot of insiders and had access to all the information he needed. He writes with a lot of love about the club, clearly his favourite, but is critical where necessary. Furthermore, he has funny anecdotes and writes with the typically dry English humour. Of course, Matt Busby and Alex Ferguson are the two most important names in United history. Special attention has been paid to players like George Best and Eric Cantona. Sometimes, legendary goals (like the one Giggs scored against Arsenal) are described into detail (and can be found back on YouTube!). Being more of an Arsenal fan myself (well, actually, Ajax), you can't help but getting sympathy for Manchester United by reading this book. I'm sure the Dutch version will be a success as well!
Mark Tuijl
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This is a well paced an interesting history of Manchester United. The author is a fan, but tries very hard to remain objective throughout this as he takes us from United's origins as the "Heathens" through to the Champions League win over Chelsea in Moscow. The evolving history of the club and Old Trafford is told with many interesting anecdotes and good insight into all the characters involved. As a fan myself I have read quite a few books, but none have covered the history as well as this one. I particularily enjoyed the early years and White's chapter on "The flowers of Manchester" was both moving and poignant.
There are some very minor errors (as other reviewers have pointed out) but they do not detract from a book that should be of interest to both fans and people interested in English football. What the author does so well is spend the right amount of time on things, he doesn't regurgitate George Best's history, or go through pages of statistics, he hits the important notes and fleshes them out with perfect pace.

I picked this up thinking I would dip into it over a couple of weeks, but ended up finishing it in two days. Recommended.
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on 9 October 2013
I needed the answer to a question which I was asked on holiday regarding the original name of Manchester United and thought I would download a sample of this book to my Kindle which could hopefully give me the answer. I clicked "Buy" instead of "Look Inside" by accident and after kicking myself for making the mistake, I decided to read the book anyway. Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed it. It is both an interesting and entertaining read and happily, in addition to finding the answer to the question, I was able to come back with an equally obscure question about the origins of Manchester City!
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on 1 October 2008
In order for a review to be meaningful, I believe one must have a basic understanding of the "reviewer". Hence I am a New York lawyer from a soccer and Man U loving family who is well versed in soccer-football history, having bought many books from Amazon UK (and even having read some). This is the first time that I am discussing a book in this kind of forum. I first became aware of Jim White via his book "Always in the Running." I enjoyed it so much that I went on to read "The Biography." This new book is fantastic. It is witty, analytical, entertainig and extremely informative. It is clear that Mr. White neither has an "axe to grind" nor does he simply follow "the party line." Therefore, in my opinion, he has effectively accomplished writing an outstanding objective history of this endlessly fascinating institution.
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As this book shows Coronation Street is not the only soap opera based in Manchester, because not far away from that famous street is Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United, a football club whose history reads like the product of the minds of over imaginative scriptwriters.

Started as a means of recreation for railway workers United's rise to current status has been marked by more than their fair share of struggle and tragedy. During United's history players have gone on strike for more money (money is a dominant and recurrent theme in United's history), their ground has been rendered unusable due to wartime bombing and even today there is an uneasy peace as not too many people are happy with the clubs present owners, the Glazer family. Over and above all of this is the Munich air disaster, in which many players and back room staff were amongst those killed.

The story of Manchester United is also littered with many wonderful characters; players like the rebellious, toothpick chewing Billy Meredith, the bald-headed Irishman Johnny Carey, who looked more like a bank manager than a footballer, the teenage colossus Duncan Edwards, whose early death deprived the world of one of football's greatest talents and the `holy trinity' of Denis Law, George Best and Bobby Charlton. More than any of these though, probably the two most influential people in the history of Manchester United are two Scots, Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson, managers who both in their own way made United into the worldwide phenomenon they are today.

With so much material to call on it is no surprise that this book is an enthralling read. Obviously a fan and therefore definitely biased, Jim White nevertheless makes an excellent job of tying all the information together to produce a book that should be of interest fans of all football clubs, not just Manchester United.
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on 12 March 2011
The best 'history' of manchester united I've read.

well written, researched and, most importantly, readable.

Brings the major characters to life unlike a lot of other books.

A must buy for discerning united fans
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on 13 February 2009
Manchester United-Autobiography by Jim White is a fantastic history of the greatest football club in the world.Written in White's unique style and laced with dry wit it is a must for all football fans despite several statistical errors.
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on 15 March 2013
you love 'em or loathe 'em, me the latter, I only bought it for cross referencing for my book I'm writing, which all you haters will give 5 stars for......but for lovers of them its packed with anecdotes and facts, so my rating is false really, but I could not bring myself to rate it any higher
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