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on 17 August 2010
Unfortunately, the author/publisher have made a cataclysmic error with this book. They have sold it short. Sold it out. Bottled it. Typical Leeds.

With a blurb that screams 'partisan' louder than a chant from the Kop, it's easy to understand why other reviews dismiss the book as "written by a fan, for fans". To be considered a work only of interest to its subjects. Only relevant for those who accept its glaring hypothesis; that Leeds United are the football story of our times. Only to be read by Leeds fans, by Leeds people, by Leeds Jews.

This is plainly a travesty.

Instead, this is Promised Land. A tale of broad and sweeping scope. Of wide ranging, hard hitting themes. With the unmistakable political, social and economic agenda to be expected of a writer from the Mirror.

It's true that no author can ever hope to sum up a century of social, economic, relgious and football history. But this book tries. And it does so, not just from the perspective of a man or a community or a city (and it covers all of those themes), but from the perspective of modern Britain. This is the story of a football club which speaks to anyone interested in the ebbs and flows of our country's recent past.

The rise and fall of Northern Man. Of Labour. Of Thatcher. Of prosperity. Of jobs and shopping and fashion. Of immigrant communities through the decades. Of a community desperate to fit in and to find its place. Of a family fighting to survive and belong.

In some ways, this book is Andrew Marr for the football fan.

But unfortunately, with it's cover and it's blurb, it has been presented as fiercely particular. As one man's story written for his peers. For his classmates at school. For the community he's left behind.

And yes, there are a lot of Judeo-specific and Leeds-specific and Judeo-Leeds-specific stories and references. There are words and phrases and characters that will resonate more with some than others. But in my view, this only adds to the whole. There is a sense of a genuine history that is personal, but which adds depth to the broader, universal, picture.

I hope that any football fan, anybody from an immigrant community, anybody that has family history connected to the club, to the city, to the rise and fall of 'Northern Man', anyone with any connection, however slight, isn't put off by the presentation and picks this book up.

Particularly, anyone that remembers 'Dirty Leeds' or the Don, or has any interest at all in the amazing recent history of the club, will find in this book a fascinating context for all those headlines. For all the controversy. And, I suppose, for the trials and travails of the football seasons that have ended, or even only just begun.
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on 13 March 2016
Anthony Clavane’s book is thought provoking on a number of levels: It traces and the integration of foreign: Jewish, West Indian and Pakistani communities into Leeds. Anthony reflects four generations of his family and comments on both the influence of the Jewish community and its representational dilution within the City of Leeds and wider a field, through their integration and migration from ghettos. Starting with Anthony’s great grandfather’s arrival in Leeds, his father’s transition and Anthony’s journey away from his roots in Leeds. On his occasional re-visits he shares his observations of Leeds’, almost cyclic renewal and decay. Indelibly interwoven into this history is the relationship of Leeds United Football Club with the community and the city.

The fifth generation is captured in half a dozen pages; vignettes by independent writers, on the current ghettos and social prognosis for disadvantaged individuals, communities and generations of unemployed.

Lynsey Hanley ‘Estates’ (2007) touches on hope ‘…examining…the stigma of disadvantaged kids’, [and the metaphoric] ‘walls in their head, a barrier to knowledge and self-awareness, you must find a crack in it and whittle out and escape route.‘

The route for many of Don Revie’s lads was through football and part of his own formula for success. There is more than a glimpse behind ‘the magician’s’ curtain, though reading various books on the sporting elite, Revie was in many respects ahead of his time.

Within the community he improved the infrastructure in support of the club and extended a duty of care fore those involved.

The book speaks of ‘choke’ as a characteristic of Leeds, that when present, became a self fulfilling prophecy of a decent down a slippery slope; however when absent, the club has the potential of being the best in the world and come close more than once.

The English crowd, are Lions; listen to the various crowds in a World Cup and the England fans have it. The fans will have made a significant financial sacrifice to support their team which on so many occasions underperforms performs the sum of their parts, entropic. Choke is undoubtedly a ‘condition’ but not uniquely characteristic of football and certainly not unique to Leeds United FC.

Coincidentally people from Leeds are called ‘Lioners’ (although the origin of the name has various theories). You cannot speak about Leeds United without acknowledging the nature of their fans and the aura of Ellen Road; Sir Alex Ferguson referred to Ellan Road as the most intimidating ground in Europe.

Leeds has merchandising value, although an inherent volatility too, part of which is its incredibly following. Peter Ridsdale over-leveraged the club financially and the notorious ‘Choke’ not only bite his flawed decisions, but put the club back before the dark ages. The consequences and the fire sale that followed: mutilated the team and removed the bloodlines coming through, evidence of the flood tide of insolvency have yet to become a memory.

The book finishes on an almost despondent note, which at its time of writing, is not surprising, however; a number of years on, Leeds United is still playing football. A Pygmalion project could not manufacture the persistance and heritage, including the fanatical fan base. The financial backing must take a longer perspective, hopefully Massimo Cellino will be at the reins of this fruition.
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on 21 November 2010
This is more than the North. More than Leeds. More than Leeds United. More than Leeds Jewry. More than social change.
It's all of that and more.
This is a narrative carefully and lovingly crafted.
Picture a weaver weaving. The author takes all of the threads and makes the richest of yarns.
Is any thread dominant?
No not all.
Do you have to be from the North, born in Leeds, middle aged, Leeds United fan or even Jewish ?
No you do not.
It adds so much if you are.
This is an epic book, well written.
A book that describes and explains fully a club, a community, a city and a century.
A book to be read.
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on 11 October 2010
As a diehard Leeds fan this book was a must but, while a good read, it is a little disappointing and does not really provide any new insight into the rise and fall of Leeds. If you have read all the books the author draws on then you might feel a bit shortchanged. Basically the book is driven by his strand of the four Jewish movements: bring out, deliver, redeem, take which is a nice take but a bit contrived. There is good coverage of the Jewish side to LUFC's early management and support and he was obviously in place to observe the right people at the right time but I was instantly on the alert when I spotted a few Leodian howlers: for example Anthony's restaurant being open when Leeds was a Euro 96 venue (at least 15 years too early) and Leeds' trendy set recovering from their hangovers and shopping in the glass-covered Kirkgate market (er, not really where the trendies hang out!). So I know he is from Leeds and he says he moved away but how much time did he really spend there? Buy it if you're a completist or if it's your first book about Leeds United but otherwise caveat emptor.
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on 13 December 2010
I loved this book.

It is a personal account of one man's love of his city and his football club. And it is a description of Leeds and Leeds United's efforts to enter the big time of the Promised Land. Both have never quite made it. Leeds United were almost there on two big occasions: the European Cup final in 1975 and the Champions League semi-finals some 25 years later. Both events ended in disaster both on the pitch and off the pitch. Violence, racism and a closed Elland Road followed the 1975 final and economic meltdown followed the exit from the Champions League. Leeds itself boomed but has since suffered in the worldwide economic meltdown.

Clavane brings this all to the fore in his own personal way. I loved the allusion of the Promised Land to the Jews who emigrated to Leeds to escape the dire conditions of eastern Europe. Instead of making it to the real promised land of Israel they loved the opportunity that Leeds gave them and they took every opportunity to give back to Leeds. You really get the sense that until 1961 Leeds United had achieved nothing. Leeds was a rugby city through and through but a few tracksuits later supplied by some Jewish Leeds taylors and the appointment of Don Revie as manager in 1961 by a board of directors that included three Jews and Leeds became a footballing town with all the excitement and drama that brought to that lovely city.

The title of the book is the perfect description of the concerns we all have in life as to whether we will eventually achieve our hopes and dreams. Leeds and Leeds United are still hoping to enter the promised land. Hopefully Leeds can recover from the economic doldrums and the football club is currently 4th in the Championship. Could Simon Grayson be the new Don Revie?

Most Jews have, sadly, left Leeds for other promised lands but Clavane shows how they played such an important part in the creation of the theatre that is Leeds United.
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on 26 January 2011
This book gives a true football story which lives up to any of its predecessors. On the backdrop of a rapidly changing Britain, and a rapidly changing Northern Britain, this book gives a marvellous insight to a un-chartered History of Leeds as a club and as a city.
Set from a unique fans perspective, the author goes a long way to describing the highs and lows of a Leeds fan in such a way that any football fan of any club could relate. The uniqueness of Leeds and their story takes centre stage.

This however goes only a little way to describing what the book really portrays. It gives a personal history of Britain through a revolutionary period of Britain. Any person looking to gain a unique vision of the social and economic changes of Britain aught to read this book, and if you wish to see it from a football perspective also then you are in for a treat.

But these are again just two elements to the book, for you do not only have the uniqueness of seeing this experience from a footballing fans eyes, who sees a social revolution as well as a football revolution happen. You see it from the eyes of a young Jewish fan. With this you see a secret and un documented history to Leeds from a Jewish perspective. Therefore this book is revolutionary in itself in creating a unique new strand of Leeds support which differs from any stereotype that has existed prior.

For all of these reasons and more I would urge people to buy this book and enjoy it as much as I personally did.
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on 20 November 2010
Oh, there have been some shoddy books published in the name of Leeds United over the years - half-arsed biogs, thinly veiled paens to hooliganism, endless pointless rehashes of the Revie revolution, David O'Leary's 'Leeds on Trial' debacle - so it's a thrill, at least to this lifelong Leeds fan, that Anthony Clavane's 'Promised Land' comes from a new (Jewish) perspective and contains an ambitious narrative sweep that not only wrestles with the complex motivations behind loving a warts-and-all football club, but reveals extraordinary links and parallels between the club, the city of Leeds and the West Riding's past and present literati. There's a whole thesis going on here about the rise and fall of Northern Man that demands a follow-up book but, for me, the real joy of 'Promised Land' lies in Clavane's personal journey - from Jewish kid in Leeds to the bright lights of London - with Leeds United as a constant, sometimes vivid, sometimes transient, backdrop. Thoughtful football fans, of whatever colour, should investigate further. A total triumph.
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on 14 November 2010
Passionate, provocative and thrillingly honest throughout, Clavane writes as one utterly - ancestrally, and often comically - ensnared in the history of Leeds United; the story of Leeds. Resigned, wistful, but not mawkish, and celebratory where it counts, this is a richly balanced read; thumping and slumped in equal, quick-paced measure.
It's pithily sentimental - a gift for a Leeds lad like me and anyone, frankly, who romances the recent past - but loaded with lessons and new perspectives (yes, personal - this IS personal) on a city and side I thought I had down.
Beautifully conceived (from childhood) and brilliantly executed.
Family copies all round...... with a Billy Liar thrown in!
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on 23 February 2012
Knowing that this won the sports book of the year, and being a Leeds United supporter (obviously I can't help it) I was looking forward to reading Clavane's parallel accounts of the 20th century history of Judaism in Leeds and of LUFC.

On every level, I loved this book. Exceptionally well written, and clearly personal to the author it nevertheless rings true to any supporter of Leeds United. Indeed, to anybody with an interest in the history of Jewish settlement in England, or in the history of "Northern Man", or an interest in football in general this book hits home on many levels.

It is not merely a homage to the football club; indeed Clavane takes many a side-swipe and several full-frontal assaults on the club which all non-LUFC supporters will doubtless enjoy! Like me, Clavane can't help being a Leeds fan, and the syncope between the economic backdrop and the success or otherwise of the club is ever-apparent. A little out of date now, as Clavane ends his book with hope for Simon Grayson's management of the club...it's perhaps apt that Grayson has since been sacked for failing to fulfill his undoubted promise and talent. Typical Leeds!
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on 4 October 2011
This book is stunning: more than a piece of sports journalism, it is an intense psychological examination of a city with a turbulent life story, an enduring image (not always complimentary) to outsiders, and a fierce and passionate character which burns to this day.

Taking as his central motif the sign which was once on display high and proud at Leeds train station declaring 'Leeds - The Promised Land Delivered', Clavane examines that very character, telling an epic saga which weaves together the story of the football club, of the city, and of the Jewish community in which he himself grew up.

His reflections are searingly honest. Famous vignettes from the seminal New Wave film 'Billy Liar' (originally written by Leeds-born Keith Waterhouse) are recurring scene-setters, which Clavane builds upon to charactise the city as an historically ambitious place where idealistic dreamers have come to achieve: Hull-born architect Cuthbert Brodrick who built the majestic Town Hall; and of course Don Revie, the man who took over as Leeds United manager in the sixties, ordering his team to play in an all-white strip like that of world-class Real Madrid.

Yet that ambition, that apparent self-confidence Clavane suggests betrays a rather more deep-seated insecurity about ourselves: that no matter what pretentions we might ever adopt towards worldwide greatness, we will never lose our abiding provincial roots.

A book which gives every Leeds lad or lady a great deal to think about. It is at once a nostalgic tread through footballing history; a treatise on sport and culture; and a fascinating treasure chest of stories - mostly now forgotten and little-told - about a city and a football club which continues to have its "ups and downs".
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