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After Clough fallout, The Damned United author David Peace turns his novelist's eye to Shankly

Controversial author David Peace, who generated both anger and acclaim with his fictional account of Brian Clough's torrid 44 days as Leeds United manager, is to place another football legend at the heart of a novel.

Almost six years after his dark portrayal of Clough's imagined inner torment in The Damned United, Peace has turned his attention to a man whose greatness he makes no attempt to deny, the former Liverpool manager, Bill Shankly.

Red or Dead, to be published by Faber in August -- a month ahead of the centenary of Shankly's birth -- will focus on how Shankly, who had previously managed Carlisle United, Workington, Grimsby Town and Huddersfield Town, emerged from relative obscurity to transform then down-at-heel Liverpool into the team that would dominate English football and conquer Europe.

It will dwell, too, on Shankly's life after Liverpool, following his surprise decision to retire in 1974, which to an extent was a rather sad time, in which he struggled to let go of the club he had handed over to Bob Paisley, his trusted lieutenant, and was told ultimately to stay away, his regular appearances at Melwood considered unhelpful.

"I have written about corruption, I've written about crime, I've written about bad men and I've written about the demons," Peace said, in the Faber press release announcing the book. "But now I've had enough of the bad men and the demons. Now I want to write about a good man. And a saint. A Red Saint.

"Bill Shankly was not just a great football manager. Bill Shankly was one of the greatest men who ever lived. And the supporters of Liverpool Football Club, and the people of Liverpool the city, know that and remember him.

"But many people outside of football, outside of Liverpool, do not know or do not remember him. And now – more than ever – it's time everybody knew about Bill Shankly. About what he achieved, about what he believed. And how he led his life. Not for himself, for other people."

Red or Dead promises to be a very different book from The Damned United, which echoed the stark prose style of Peace's Red Riding series, novels about police corruption against the backdrop of the Yorkshire Ripper murders.

David Peace
The Damned United was roundly condemned by the Clough family, who felt its depiction of Brian as ruthless, obsessional and foul-mouthed was unfair, particularly on a man no longer around to defend himself.  Others, notably his biographer, Pat Murphy, complained that it was full of inaccuracies that made the Clough portrayed by Martin Sheen in the film version almost unrecognisable from the real person.

The family were particularly vexed by scenes that suggested Clough was a whisky-drinking chain smoker who was once so anxious about the outcome of an important match when he was Derby manager that he spent its entirety cowering in the dressing room.  They argued that his heavy drinking days came much later in his life, that he had given up smoking and that the idea of him deserting his post on the touchline for a critical match was too ludicrous even to contemplate.

Johnny Giles, one of the Leeds players Clough inherited from his predecessor, Don Revie, sued Peace for libel over the way he was depicted in the story and won.

Now 45, Yorkshire-born Peace now lives in Tokyo, where he has been writing his Tokyo Trilogy, another series of dark novels, about crime and corruption in post-War Japan.  The third volume, following on from Tokyo Year Zero and Occupied City, will be published after Red or Dead.

Click on these links for more information about the The Damned Utd book and the DVD

Other novels by David Peace:

Red Riding: 1974
Red Riding: 1977
Red Riding: 1980
Red Riding: 1983

GB84
Tokyo Year Zero (Tokyo Trilogy 1)
Occupied City (Tokyo Trilogy 2)

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