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

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,658 Ratings  ·  107 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
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by Three Rivers Press (first published July 14th 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,937)
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John Harney
Sep 23, 2009 John Harney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Gene Vityugov
Mar 10, 2014 Gene Vityugov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 16, 2010 Bill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 20, 2016 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been fairly obsessed with soccer for the past 2 years, and my favorite team is the LA Galaxy, so I mainly read this for the behind-the-scenes Galaxy stuff and less for anything about Beckham. It was pretty good for that purpose, actually. It's insane how the team was being run in 2007-2008, especially when Gullit was coach (THEY DIDN'T EVEN PRACTICE SET PIECES???). I may have some issues with Bruce Arena's choices these days, but thank god they got him to fix this mess. Also, I already like ...more
Jul 28, 2014 Jennyb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great, quick read, if you are at all interested in MLS. I didn't know that Beckham is managed by Simon Fuller, mastermind behind American Idol. Fuller seemed to believe his touch for creating entertainment messiahs would extend to the sports world as well, and that David Beckham could single-handedly make people care about soccer in this country the way they do about the NFL. He couldn't. They didn't. But what happened along the way is pretty fascinating. Wahl points out that Fuller as starmak ...more
Colee B
Aug 11, 2014 Colee B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
Would David Beckham's $32.5 million contract with the LA Galaxy ever be about the soccer before the celebrity? This is the question that is explored in The Beckham Experiment. Wahl offers an in-depth look at what David Beckman's presence at the LA Galaxy really meant for the team and the sport of soccer in America from 2007 until 2009. It's refreshing to read a book that is blunt about Beckham's character and his questionable practices as teammate and captain instead of only looking at him as Si ...more
David Jin
Feb 09, 2015 David Jin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grant Wahl is a very good sports journalist, and his soccer book about David Beckham's tenure with the LA Galaxy is worth reading as well. I was previously not a soccer fan, and this book helped change that. I'm not by any means hardcore, but now I understand the game better, and I enjoy watching a good match. I gained an appreciation for the talents of the best players in the world, as well as respect for the lowly players of MLS in their climb to gain recognition in America's sports juggernaut ...more
Rafal Cebula
A really fascinating look at the back end of professional sports. It was shocking to see how many people were involved in a deal that brought arguably the worlds most prolific footballer to the US. Furthermore, it was even more surprising that the sport exists in both the microcosm of the US market and the macrocosm of the global market. It is also apparent that for the most part, Beckham was very rarely the one making the decisions and orchestrations that decided his fate.

The writing was solid
Cole Szegda
Jan 29, 2016 Cole Szegda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good book about Beckham and how he went from two of the best leagues in the world to the U.S. where they really don't even know what soccer is. He made the stands filled when he started playing for the Galaxy and millions of people bought his jersey. That was when the U.S. soccer started to become famous. Everybody wanted to see him play and watch the best player in the world. But was he the best player in the world when he went there or even a captain for the Galaxy? Read the book an ...more
Dec 13, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have no idea why I read this. So self-important and self-absorbed. Woof.
Sep 24, 2015 Ruel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars.

A solid behind-the-scenes look at David Beckham's early years with the Los Angeles Galaxy. Since this was published before Beckham won back-to-back MLS Cups with the Galaxy, it's an incomplete yet fascinating document of the ups-and-downs (mostly downs) of Beckham becoming an MLS ambassador and growing his international brand.

Grant Wuhl is a longtime Sports Illustrated reporter and has interviewed all of the major players in the Beckham drama: team officials, Beckham's handlers, league
Jun 06, 2010 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 22, 2011 Greg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 31, 2009 Bryan rated it really liked it  ·  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
Apr 21, 2010 Nathan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: franklin-library
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.

Oct 14, 2013 Takaya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 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
Aug 16, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
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
Jul 26, 2009 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009
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
David A-S
Jan 15, 2016 David A-S rated it liked it
The book hangs as a the epic update of the ambitious MLS circa 2008. It is presently outdated as the expose with shocking inside information was printed before the last three significant years transpired. That said, Wahl does present the business of American soccer in its most painful and striving light. With the benefit of time, I can say that the Experiment was an overwhelming success but after reading this piece, one can more fully appreciate what MLS came through.
Sep 01, 2009 Damon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: soccer
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
Aug 26, 2009 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 23, 2010 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 10, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 2007, David Beckham signed a contract with the LA Galaxy in a move that was hoped to raise the U.S.’s Major League Soccer to the next stage in world athletics. The next two seasons would instead prove to be the worst in the history of the team. As Beckham struggled with injuries and stamina, his advisors created chaos in the Galaxy front office, and the players tried to deal with problems on and off the field. A great look behind the scenes of the MLS.
Feb 26, 2016 Mandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book after hearing Grant Wahl on the longform podcast, wondering what the interviewer meant by Wahl getting LA Galaxy players and staff to say things they probably should't've. It didn't disappoint, offering a captivating study into the complex business practices of MLS and how they contained the team accepting a super star into their Galaxy.
Jul 06, 2015 Mycle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good, got repetitive at times (literally repetitive, like it was meant to be read as a bathroom book... restating each players back story each time they were mentioned.)

Was a little disappointing it didn't cover the whole story, **spoilers** Beckhams return to the Galaxy and cup winning years**

But hey, that's what I get for reading a 2009 book in 2015.
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
Sep 01, 2009 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jake Wangberg
May 31, 2016 Jake Wangberg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think one of the most interesting parts of this book has to be the honesty of how "Un"glorious the MLS is. The few pages showing the salaries of the players were eye opening on their own, but the tell all of life on the road is just as good. I have bought a few copies of this book as gifts.
Dec 21, 2009 Seth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jimmy Laroue
Jan 06, 2015 Jimmy Laroue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Appreciate the effort it took for the author to provide this account. An easy, yet informative read about an important player at an important time in Major League Soccer history.
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