The Damned Utd

A Novel

He was a real-life, working-class hero known as the “British Muhammad Ali”—because he had a big mouth and wasn’t afraid to use it.

But Brian Clough wasn’t a boxer, he was a soccer coach, known for taking backwater teams and making them into champions. In towns where people had little else, the hard-drinking and scrappy Clough was a hero. He was especially beloved for telling it like it was on behalf of small-town teams everywhere — calling out the stars who played dirty, rival coaches he suspected of bribing referees, and the league that let them get away with it.

And then one day Clough was offered a job coaching the big-city team he’d called the dirtiest — the perennial powerhouse Leeds United.

The Damned Utd tells the story of the legendary Clough’s tumultuous forty-four days trying to turn around a corrupt institution without being corrupted himself — the players who wouldn’t play, the management that looked the other way, the wife and friends who stood by him as he fought to do the right thing.

The inspiring story behind the movie of the same name, The Damned Utd has been called by the Times of London “the best novel ever written about sport.”

DAVID PEACE—named in 2003 one of Granta’s Best of Young Novelists—is the acclaimed author of the Red Riding Quarter (1974, 1977, 1980, and 1983), which was adapted into a BBC television series that was released theatrically in the United States, and is currently being adapted into a major motion picture directed by Ridley Scott. Peace is also the author of the highly praised Tokyo Trilogy, which so far includes Tokyo Year Zero and Occupied City. His book, GB84, was awareded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and The Damned Utd was called “probably the best novel ever written about sport” by The Times (UK). His newest book, Red or Dead, was shortlisted for the UK’s prestigious Goldsmith’s Prize.

“A well-crafted, visceral book with a terrifically alive protagonist.” —The Millions

“In a stream-of-consciousness, first-person narration, Peace builds tension and characterization brilliantly, imparting an epic feel to what was ultimately a brief, failed experiment.” —Booklist, starred review

“If there’s one sports novel you should read, it’s probably The Damned Utd….  In the end it’s a book less about soccer or even sports than about friendship and the darker side of genius.”Deadspin

“The book that brought the legend back to life.” The Observer

“Fascinating… Brilliant.” The Guardian

The Damned Utd isn’t good, it’s brilliant. Vivid… compelling… as the reader, you are swept along. It is quite an achievement.” The Scotsman

”The most extraordinary novel about football to appear yet.” The Independent

Praise for Red or Dead

“Red or Dead is a masterpiece. David Peace already has a considerable reputation but this massive, painstaking account of the career of Bill Shankly towers above his previous work . . . I want to go out and knock on doors like a Jehovah’s Witn
ess and read this book to people.”—The Observer

“The writing is honed, sculpted, poetic . . . Peace has built what is a worthy monument to a figure light years removed from the megabucks and hype of today’s football. It doesn’t matter if you don’t follow the game, this is also a profound investigation of the tension between aspiration and the constraints of time, the very essence of the human condition.”Metro

“An epic that has more in common with Beowulf or The Iliad than with the conventional sports novel.”—The Times (UK)

“Both epic in scale and meticulous in its attention to detail.”—Esquire

“Peace . . . again proves himself to be magnificently single-minded and unbiddable, and has recognised in Shankly another brilliant and pioneering obsessive of his profession.”—The Guardian

“It is truly brave and it is utterly heroic . . . I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like Red or Dead before. Not ever. Peace has created the perfect mantra for life, for love, for obsession, for sport.” 
—Nicola Barker, author of The Yips, in the Goldsmith’s Prize shortlist citation

Praise for David Peace and Tokyo Year Zero:

“A fierce marriage of mood and narrative drive. David Peace continues to polish and advance his particular brand of literary crime fiction.”—George Pelecanos

“Part historical stunner, part Kurosawa crime film, an original all the way. David Peace’s depiction of a war-torn metropolis both crumbling and ascendant is peerless, and the story itself is beautifully wrought.” —James Ellroy

“A fantastic talent.”—Ian Rankin

“An extraordinary and highly original crime novel . . . A truly remarkable work. It is hugely daring, utterly irresistible, deeply serious and unlike anything I have ever read.” —Justin Cartwright, The New York Times Book Review