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  • The Life and Career of David Beckham: Football Legend, Cultural Icon by Tracey Savell Reavis
  • Michael A. Hill
Reavis, Tracey Savell. The Life and Career of David Beckham: Football Legend, Cultural Icon. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014. Pp. xii+ 236. Appendices, notes, index, and illustrations. $38.00 hb. $37.99 ebook.

In the world of international soccer, few names summon as many images and opinions as that of David Beckham. While recognized as a talented player in his own right, Beckham’s great influence may well have more to do with his skill as a businessman and his marriage to Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham, which turned him into a fashion and pop-culture icon. By the end of his playing career, Beckham had proved influential to the expansion of soccer in the United States and Asia and in bringing the summer Olympics to London, erasing much of the controversy that surrounded his early career and turning himself into a legend.

In this biography, Reavis seeks to explain the complexities of David Beckham’s soccer career, business accomplishments, cultural impact, and charitable endeavors. Beckham was unquestionably a talented soccer player. As a precocious member of Manchester United’s famed Class of ‘92, he served as an important cog in the Red machine that would go on to tremendous success in England and Europe, culminating in Man United’s historic treble-winning year of 1999. Later, he would add titles while playing with Real Madrid in Spain and AC Milan in Italy. The six seasons Beckham spent playing in the MLS in the United States saw unprecedented growth of soccer in this country, demonstrated by a 231 percent increase in worldwide MLS merchandise sales during his time in the league. The MLS championships Beckham won while playing with the Los Angeles Galaxy made him the only English player to win league titles with four different teams in four different leagues. Additionally, Beckham made 115 appearances for the English national team, second all-time for England and most for any English nongoalkeeper.

Reavis goes to great lengths, however, to demonstrate that Beckham was much more than simply a soccer player. Relatively early in his career Beckham—whom Reavis repeatedly refers to as “handsome,” “hunky,” and “sexy”—realized the exposure soccer afforded to him could be exploited in the business world. Beckham quickly moved from simple product endorsement to full-blown modeling and eventually partnered with international companies to form personalized clothing and cologne lines. Not satisfied to only accumulate wealth, Beckham’s tireless charitable work was recognized when he was awarded the Order of the British Empire and has led many to believe that it is only a matter of time until he receives a knighthood.

Reavis is perhaps at her best, however, when discussing Beckham’s relationship with his wife, former Spice Girl and trend-setting fashionista Victoria Beckham. From the first time David saw Victoria on television, to their first meeting after a charity match, to their wedding—covered exclusively by OK! magazine for a price tag of $1.5 million—Reavis traces their relationship through four countries, two continents, friendships with entertainers and royalty, and nearly innumerable business ventures, leading to their eventual recognition as one of pop-culture’s most influential couples. While David and Victoria were famous individually, together they have reached an unprecedented level of international [End Page 275] recognition and influence. They are truly an example of the total being greater than the sum of its parts.

It is clear that Reavis took the writing of this biography seriously. While she is a sports journalist, Reavis admits the ignorance of soccer and David Beckham she possessed on receiving this book assignment. Nonetheless, her use of soccer parlance—such as “pitch,” “footballer,” and “Cup Winners Cup”—is nearly spot on, a difficult task for the uninitiated. Additionally, Reavis demonstrates an admirable knowledge of soccer history, such as referencing the Munich air disaster of 1958. There are times, however, when Reavis’s nonlinear narrative bends on itself, causing confusion and mix-ups. For example, at one point Reavis incorrectly states that England played only three matches in the 2010 World Cup. Several chapters later, when again...


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pp. 275-276
Launched on MUSE
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