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Celebrity biographer Russell (Arise Sir Tom Jones, 2007, etc.) chooses as her latest subject the phenomenally popular soccer star.

Beckham isn’t merely a very skilled athlete, she suggests, but an icon deserving a knighthood. This is a difficult claim to make since he doesn’t come across as unusually culturally or socially active. In chronological fashion, Russell recounts Beckham’s already well-known history: childhood soccer prodigy, Manchester United star, romance with wife Victoria (aka Posh Spice), move to Real Madrid and finally a quarter-billion-dollar contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy. Along the way, the author works hard to demonstrate that Beckham is deeper than the average celebrity. She points out that, although he works in the hyper-macho world of competitive sports, he enjoys fashion and accepts his status as a sex symbol to gay men. (While unusual among athletes, this isn’t quite on par with Dennis Rodman wearing drag or Billie Jean King defeating Bobby Riggs.) Russell’s effort to paint Beckham as beyond mere celebrity superficialities, however, is undercut by the fact that she goes out of her way to attach a dollar value to just about everything he gets or owns, from salary and cars to homes and jewelry. The biography reads like little more than a puff piece gleaned from dozens of tabloid clippings. It chronicles events familiar to any Beckham fan, including his turbulent relationship with Manchester’s old-school manager, Alex Ferguson, the births of his children and the rumors of infidelity that rocked the perception of Beckham as, in Russell’s hyperbolic words, “the world’s best husband and father.”

Fawning biography of a not particularly complicated celebrity, containing few surprises and little insight.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-84454-416-5
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: John Blake/Trafalgar
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2007