The Beckham Experiment: How the World's Most Famous Athlete Tried to Conquer America
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The Beckham Experiment: How the World's Most Famous Athlete Tried to Conquer America

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  1,019 ratings  ·  85 reviews
In 2007, David Beckham, the golden boy of soccer, shocked the international sports world when he signed a five-year contract with an American team, the Los Angeles Galaxy. Under the direction of his manager, Simon Fuller, the mastermind behind American Idol and the Spice Girls, Beckham was ready for a monumental challenge and a risky adventure–ready, as Fuller put it, to e...more
Kindle Edition, 306 pages
Published (first published 2009)
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John Harney
Wahl has produced an interesting, well written and balanced account of David Beckham's self-proclaimed proselytizing mission on behalf of the most popular sport in the world in the one nation that refuses to accept it: America.

This book is as enlightening in its description of the inner workings of Major League Soccer as it is in the journey undertaken by Beckham, the corporate interests behind his transfer to the LA Galaxy, and his various minders.

The author, commendably in my view, strives to...more
Bill
I'm generally not into "tell-all" books about celebrities. I always figure that their private lives really aren't any of my business. But this book was really interesting in that it got into the inner workings of the LA Galaxy and what the team and entire organization went through when they signed Beckham. It also got into the inner workings of Major League Soccer and all the challenges it faces. I had no clue about any of it--which I guess is part of MLS's problems.

The only thing I really could...more
Gene Vityugov
This is a pretty good write-up about the Beckham Experiment at the LA Galaxy. You will probably enjoy it if you're a fan of MLS (like me). Written well, with just the right amount of "People" magazine crap, it builds on the point that the Beckham Experiment was a clear failure for Galaxy and MLS on all fronts except jersey sales. This quote summarizes the experiment results pretty well:
"Violating one of the cardinal rules of professional sports, the team had brought in a new player (Beckham) on...more
Sarah
I have no idea why I read this. So self-important and self-absorbed. Woof.
Robert
The Beckham Experiment is a fascinating book. On the surface, it is about David Beckham coming to America, joining the LA Galaxy and playing in Major League Soccer (MLS). But in reality, the book is about so many things including: the growth of MLS as a whole; trying to make the Galaxy a standout “SuperClub” in MLS ala a European one like Manchester United or Real Madrid (Beckham’s two prior clubs); Beckham the brand vs. Beckham the player; the diehard American soccer players who were Beckham’s...more
Greg
What is MLS? Whereas soccer news, rumors, trash talk, questionable journalism, and scandals consume the daily lives of sports fans elsewhere here in the US soccer isn't a joke, just no one cares. Well, we are aware of soccer as a sport during the World Cup, but I'm sure that's mainly an excuse to get drunk on a weekday.

The Beckham Experiment tells the story of the one time people cared, or at least were aware of, MLS. The January and July of Beckhams' journey to the states and the Los Angeles Ga...more
Bryan
Oct 31, 2009 Bryan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: MLS Fans; Beckham fans; nobody else
Shelves: sports, soccer
First things first, this book will only be enjoyable to a fan of MLS. If reader is merely interested in the "celebrity" of Becks, this book won't give you much. And the insights into his world that it provides are in the first 3rd, as it handles he Beckham clan's arrival in SoCal.

The rest is pure insight into what an MLS team goes through in a season. Sure, the focus is David Beckham. But the book really seems to use him to help reader understand the game of soccer here in America, the state of...more
Nathan
As pop culture studies go, I suppose this was pretty standard. It's a weird cross between Sports Illustrated and People magazine, hip, savvy, but soulless. The emphasis here is not on Beckham as a soccer player but as a cultural commodity. Of course, Wahl is perfectly aware of this double persona and is careful to explain this as an effect of pop culture. But his handling of the synthesis veers too much toward tabloid-style gossip and too much away from the sociological analysis that I prefer.

I...more
Takaya
9/27 60 minutes
7 words summary
England, handsome, Manchester United, legend, Real Madrid, Victoria, transfer

Discussion Questions
1 David Beckham is one of the legend of soccer players. What do you think who is the best soccer player in the world?

A I think Lionel Messi is the best soccer player in the world. His performance makes us exciting! He got so many prizes of football. Therefore, I think he is the best player in the world.

2 FIFA World cup will be held in next year. So, What do you think whi...more
Sarah
Very readable and well-written account of David Beckham's time with the LA Galaxy, and why it hasn't exactly worked out as hoped (at least on the field). Wahl had lots of access to Galaxy players and management, so it's quite a behind the scenes work. Although I'm not a Galaxy fan, I learned a lot about MLS that I had not gleaned from following the Crew.

Despite some of the previews that suggested the book would be a hit piece on David Beckham, I didn't think he came off as an evil character. He...more
Kathryn
This quick and interesting read gives a lot of insight to inner workings of American soccer and why the MLS does not and cannot function in the same way as a European league.

Wahl was ready to spread the blame for what is arguably a disastrous "experiment" as he described issues with the ownership, management, coaching and Beckham himself.

I see a flaw, however, in his praise of Donovan frequently calling him "America's best player" etc, while acknowledging that Donovan has failed now 3 times to...more
Damon
This was a decent read. Very fast paced and interesting to boot. The author follows David Beckham from Real Madrid to LA and covered the sixteen month saga of the Beckham move to LA Galaxy. Grant Wahl does a good job of explaining who all of the major players are behind the scene, (not so much the ones on the field that is) and how the politics behind the MLS and LA Galaxy interfered with the experiment that is Beckham. Yes, his deal was one of the most lucrative deals in decades, but did it rea...more
Melissa
I'm not a fan of MLS (altho I do like some of the players) and I'm really not a fan of beckham, at least not as a footballer (his underwear modelling is a different story!) but I did enjoy this book. Donovan IS one of my favorite players, I looked at this book more to learn about his experiences and life than I did about Beckham.

As a Premier League follower (and die-hard Liverpool fan) it was interesting to read how the MLS differs from the EPL in business practices alone, which is basically wha...more
Kelly
Wahl appears to have had great access to those who watched this show unfold, which made the reading truly interesting to one who cares about soccer. I was disappointed to see that soccer took a back seat to the "Beckham Show" so often, but I can't say I was surprised. Multi-million-dollar marketing machines tend to do all they can to perpetuate their existence (and profitability). I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. Wahl also does a great job of elucidating the peculiarities of the MLS...more
Donald
The most interesting thing about this saga is all the behind the scenes stuff that the casual fan (i.e. myself) had no knowledge of while watching the Galaxy implode during Beckham's first two seasons in Los Angeles.

Wahl is an excellent columnist for SI and I have always enjoyed his work (and continue to for that matter). The only criticism I could make about the book is that it kind of reads like a series of columns at times. That said, they are at least good to excellent columns, so it's not t...more
Tim
Being a soccer fan and a Galaxy fan, this story has personal meaning as I suffered through the Beckham Experiment first hand as a supporter. To me this book isn't so much an indictment of David Beckham the man as it is an indictment of David Beckham the brand...and the LA Galaxy...and Major League Soccer. Grant Wahl manages to write about a compelling story while maintaining a necessary bias. His access to all parties involved (save for Terry Byrne and most of the 19 Entertainment team that hand...more
Seth
So when I turned soccer nut, as an American I suppose it was inevitable that I'd get to this. I enjoyed it. It's in the tradition of the insider-story nonfiction narrative, and specifically, the season(s)-long look at a team and an organization. But it's not too soccer-heavy and instead focuses more on the business machinations. I like this kind of behind-the-scenes book and you could very easily take out "David Beckham" and the "LA Galaxy" and put, in their place, "Dick Cheney" and the "Iraq Wa...more
Lance
The book was a very good account of David Beckham's experience with the LA Galaxy up to that point in time. Why I am writing a short review now is that in the time since the book was published I believe the goal of making the US public more aware of MLS and fr more on field success for the Galaxy has been achieved. The latter is obvoius with LA winnimg the MLS Cup in 2011 and 2012..The other part is more subtle but still notable by the expansion of MLS and its stability on the American sports sc...more
Kate
A bit like watching a train wreck in slow motion, but Wahl's keen understanding of the differences between the European and US soccer worlds, plus his access to the major players in this drama make it a fascinating story. The inside look at MLS and its perplexing rules and policies was also interesting since I primarily follow the European game and pay little attention to MLS (and now I understand why its a less compelling league).

Not sure why this was classified as a biography at my library. I...more
Reverenddave
Great book about the behind the scenes of one of the biggest sports stories of 2007.

My only quibble is the the author's description of Celestine Babayaro. He bombed in the MLS because he was a terrible player, as proven by his disastrous spell at Newcastle, and a writer with Grant's knowledge of the game and its players should know that, not cite his pathetic play on the Galaxy as evidence of the effects of frustration for international players coming to the league.

(Seriously, Babayaro was atro...more
Adam
More than being about Beckham, I loved the insider look at any team, the dynamics involved in a long season or two. The protagonist, even though it doesn't really have a POV of its own, is the Galaxy.

Of course, it helps to have some big, dynamic characters like Beckham, Lalas and Donovan. (I doubt this would have been quite the same covering Claudio Lopez, Curt Onalfo and Josh Wolff in Kansas City).

Great that Wahl got so many people to talk so candidly, though Donovan really should have remembe...more
John
I picked it up from the book depository website for under $14. I decided to give it a shot. It was a damn good read. It confirmed that Alexi Clueless is a big dope. It detailed an interesting account of growing tension on the club between Beckham and Donovan. It discusses at length the co-dependent relationship between the owners of the Galaxy (AEG), and Beckham's representation of Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment. Beckham's folks eventually were responsible for the hiring of Ruud Gullit, and the...more
Vicky
Wow, this book reminded me, once again, to never take anything at face value. Never believe everything you hear in the media. Everything is a business. Money runs this country. Yada yada yada. Even after reading this I still like David Beckham as a person and as a soccer player but I think "his" decision to come play soccer in America was a big mistake for his career and for the MLS. I guess when you have so many people behind you making all of your decisions and you have big corporations seeing...more
Marnie Morales
I found it absolutely fascinating learing about the business of stardom and depressing learning about the machinations behind MLS and world soccer. As a soccer fan, I may never see a soccer game in the same way ever again. Some parts of the book were a bit repetitive and the ending felt a bit rushed, as I'm sure it was in order to get the latest info out just before Beckham returned to the US. But overall Grant Wahl did a great job and I'm sooo interested in finding out what's going on at the Ga...more
Erik
Really an extended SI article, though a great one at that. Chronicles the leading up to and immediate aftermath of David Beckham signing with the LA Galaxy, as well as the general sporting culture of the MLS. Wahl is a clean writer who tries to be objective, though one knows where his heart lies by the end. I can't blame him. I feel the same. In brief: The experiment is a failure even if it hasn't truly ended yet. I would definitely recommend this book to US soccer fans.
Alex de G
An interesting insider's account of the MLS perhaps, however this read simply as a really, really, really unnecessarily long Sports Illustrated article. What's worst is that this writer obviously has an agenda and an opinion about European Football... A negative opinion of course (I'm sure the writer's nationality will therefore be easy to derive!).

An OK book for what it was, but I wouldn't be unhappy if I had the few hours it took to get through it.
Edwin
A pretty interesting account of David Beckham's journey to the states to play in the MLS, a lightly regarded league.
Fascinating to read about group dynamics on a squad in which Beckham earned 6.5 million dollars but some younger players earned 12.5 thousand. Beckham, it seems, has deep pockets but short arms, and repeatedly refused to pay for team meals at restaurants.... don't know if i needed to know that, but pretty interesting nonetheless.
Daniel
This book did a good job of describing what went wrong during Beckham's first two seasons with the Galaxy. It didn't really get to the bottom of why he came to America in the first place. That will probably stay with the man himself and his closest entourage. I got the feeling, based on the fact that all the one-on-one stuff in this book was with Donovan and the others, that Becks didn't participate wholeheartedly with the author.
Rachel Friend
Really great read. It sidelined me from the other books I'm working on at the moment. The best parts of this book come in Grant Wahl's incisive writing style and the glimpses he provides into the behind the scenes workings of the MLS. This is a must read for any American soccer fan. The only question left at the end of the book is, given his ever-changing attitudes and actions, what should we really make of David Beckham?
Jocelyn
When I saw this book, I remembered hearing of Beckham going to the LA Galaxy awhile back to popularize soccer in the US. Obviously this didn't happen, and so I picked up this book in hopes it would shed some light on the subject. It gives a behind-the-scenes look into what went wrong in the early stages, Beckham's leadership within the team (sometimes lack thereof), and of all the people pulling the strings of the team.
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