cover image WHITE ANGELS: Beckham, Real Madrid, and the New Football

WHITE ANGELS: Beckham, Real Madrid, and the New Football

John Carlin, . . Bloomsbury, $24.95 (340pp) ISBN 978-1-58234-546-8

While most Americans are clueless about it, there is a sport played by the rest of the world that inspires such widespread and ferocious fanaticism that busboys, journalists, sultans and taxi drivers can all expound on its details for hours, no matter their nationality. Football (called "soccer" by unknowing Americans) is the closest thing to a lingua franca that the world has, Carlin says, and no team inspires more speculation, or takes up more ink, than Spain's Real Madrid. Since the 2003 acquisition of David Beckham, the celebrity player who came from Britain's Manchester United, Madrid is at the top of the world's game. European sports journalist Carlin details the whole story in loving detail. He deploys endless metaphors and brings to vivid life the sometimes dry details of high-salaried sports figure trades and the play-by-plays of a game that doesn't lend itself well to such descriptions. With chapters on Beckham's celebrity (including some fun stuff about his famous marriage to former Spice Girl Victoria Adams), the history of the Spanish team, the roles of the other players and the impact the game has on the rest of the world, this is an engaging story of how the union of one player and one team has changed the way a sport is played and discussed. Agent, Anne McDermid & Associates, Ltd. (Dec. 15)