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Customer Review

TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 29 March 2009
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. It is fascinating to me that the book is almost silent on what in comparison happened after Best's death with a very public funeral in a homeland that he had continually shunned and ignored but in short time even named the local city airport after him. Indeed Burn's relative lack of coverage of Ulster and Best's upbringing seem the biggest gap in the story.

Finally, Burn's numerous use of literary quotes while working in the case of collectors of football memorabilia fail largely to add much elsewhere and by the end chapters on Best's final years one almost feels are being as padding.

There is much to enjoy here with its very different style and structure to many sporting biographies plus giving new facts on Busby and Best but not quite the breakthrough book in understanding rather than documenting Best's loss of interest in his talents and life.
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