News

TWO BOOKS PUBLISHED THIS MONTH:
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On 10 September Simon & Schuster published A Man’s World: The Double Life of Emile Griffith. Michael Joseph/Penguin publish Steven Gerrard’s autobiography on 24 September. This will be, I am sure, the first and only time in my writing life that two books I’ve written are published in the same month.

STEVEN GERRARD AUTOBIOGRAPHY:
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It’s been a pleasure and a privilege working with Steven Gerrard on his autobiography. I am writing the book but Gerrard leads us through every exhilarating high and bruising low of his 27 years at Liverpool. It is a career full of contrast and drama.

There is depth and pathos, too, because Steven Gerrard is a one-club man who joined the Liverpool academy at the age of eight. While English football has turned itself inside out, undergoing enormous upheaval, often fuelled by greed and selfishness, Gerrard has stayed constant. He played 710 games for Liverpool and earned 114 caps for England.

Many of the goals are incredible while the biggest games are riveting. His very public long goodbye is often painful, always moving. But the grittier, far more private details are the most powerful. The cast of characters offer intriguing and revealing insights into the addictive soap-opera of modern football – from Luis Suárez to Brendan Rogers, José Mourinho to Rafa Benítez, Paolo Maldini to Andea Pirlo, Fernando Torres to Raheem Sterling, the list is richly varied.

Gerrard’s connection to Liverpool is marked by the tragedy of Hillsborough and the fact that his cousin, 10 year-old Jon-Paul Gilhooley, was the youngest of the 96 Liverpool fans who died on 15 April 1989. After all the lies and cover-ups, Justice for the 96 has moved closer over the last 18 months.

There is plenty of laughter too, especially in Gerrard’s days as a YTS apprentice at Liverpool. In the end the biggest days and the grandest nights hold sway. Two Champions League finals, World Cups and European Championships, FA Cup winning goals and games against AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Olympiakos and Everton come to life all over again.

The Steven Gerrard autobiography will be published by Penguin Random House on 24 September 2015.

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PUBLICATION OF ‘A MAN’S WORLD’:

A MAN’S WORLD: The Double Life Of Emile Griffith to be published by Simon & Schuster on 10 September 2015

On 24 March 1962, when Emile Griffith stepped into the ring at Madison Square Garden to defend his world welterweight title against Benny Paret, he was filled with rage. During the weigh-in, the Cuban challenger had denounced Griffith as a ‘faggot’. In boxing’s macho world there could be no greater insult. At a time when homosexuality was illegal and officially classified as a serious mental illness, Paret’s insinuation could have had dangerous consequences for Griffith – especially as it was true.

Griffith had once dreamed of becoming a milliner who made pretty hats for ladies. But, in the infamous fight, he pounded Paret into unconsciousness.

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The Cuban would die soon afterwards, leaving Griffith haunted by what he had done. Despite this, he went on to become a five-time world champion – and fought more world championship rounds than any other boxer in history in a career that lasted for almost 20 years. 

He also lived a double life as he visited New York’s gay bars and clubs. Griffith was black, so doubly damned by contemporary society, but he refused to cower away. Muhammad Ali, Frank Sinatra, Sugar Ray Robinson, Bob Dylan, Joe Frazier and others were fascinated by Griffith’s dark nights in the ring – while gay men and transvestites celebrated their secret hero.

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Written in elegant and gripping prose, and intricately researched by the award-winning author Donald McRae, A Man’s World tells the unforgettable, deeply moving story of Emile Griffith’s life in and outside the ring. It is a true story made uplifting by its courage, humour and daring. In his first sports book in more than a decade, McRae weaves a compelling tale of triumph over prejudice.

‘Hey, maricón,’ Paret said in a cooing lisp, ‘I’m gonna get you and your husband.’

The Cuban’s corner roared. They had seen how the words hurt Griffith.

Emile was about to hit Paret harder than he had hit anyone before when Clancy dived between the fighters. He wrapped his wiry Rockaway Beach arms tightly around Emile.

‘Save it for tonight, Emile,’ he hissed.

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SIMON & SCHUSTER PRESS RELEASE:

Donald McRae returns to the boxing world

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Almost twenty years on since his classic account of boxing, Dark Trade, was published, Donald McRae is returning to the sport that helped make his reputation. His new book, due to be published in 2015, is called A Man’s World: The Double Life of Emile Griffith. It tells the extraordinary story of Griffith, a six-time world champion boxer in the 1960s and ’70s, who lived a double life as a gay man in the macho world of boxing. Before his most notorious fight, against Benny Paret, Griffith was taunted about his hidden sexuality, and in the ring he knocked the Cuban into unconsciousness after a ferocious assault. Ten days later, Paret died and Griffith always felt terrible guilt about the fate of his opponent. The death haunted him the rest of his life.

Ian Marshall, Head of Sport at Simon & Schuster, who acquired UK & Commonwealth Volume rights from Jonny Geller of Curtis Brown, commented: ‘I have known Don for many years, but never managed to be his primary publisher until now, and I am delighted finally to have the privilege to work with him on his new book. Don is justifiably rated one of the best sports writers in the business, with two William Hill prizes to his name, but in fact that does not do full justice to the range of his talent. I could not be more proud that we will have Don’s new book on the Simon & Schuster sports list.’

Don McRae added: ‘I’m thrilled that Simon & Schuster will be publishing my next book – and that Ian Marshall will be editing it. I have been working on A Man’s World: The Double Life of Emile Griffith for a few years now and, deep in the actual writing of it, I think it’s the most intriguing and complex subject I’ve ever researched. I first became aware of Emile Griffith when he visited South Africa, and stood up to apartheid, in 1975 – but the more I have researched his life the more I have been convinced that this is a story like little else in sport. This is a book framed by tragedy, and death, but it’s also inspired by courage, daring and exhilaration. I’ve met some incredible people while working on Emile’s story and I hope it will be the best book I have ever written.’

Ahead of publication of his new book, Simon & Schuster have acquired two backlist titles from Mainstream, Dark Trade and Winter Colours. Along with three other books, they have all been re-issued with stunning new cover designs. McRae’s three previous sports books, including In Black & White, have all been updated while his biography of Clarence Darrow, The Old Devil, comes out at the same time as a new play at the Old Vic, where Kevin Spacey plays the famous lawyer. Every Second Counts, McRae’s groundbreaking story of the race to transplant the first human heart, is also re-released this week.

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FIVE NEW EDITIONS PUBLISHED

On 5 June 2014 Simon & Schuster will publish new editions of five books from my backlist:

• DARK TRADE: Lost in Boxing
• WINTER COLOURS: The Changing Seasons of Rugby
• IN BLACK & WHITE: The Untold Story of Joe Louis & Jesse Owens
• EVERY SECOND COUNTS: The Extraordinary Race to Transplant the First Human Heart
• THE OLD DEVIL: Clarence Darrow, The World’s Greatest Trial Lawyer

Dark Trade, Winter Colours and In Black & White have all been updated – each with an extensive new chapter.

The first two books, originally published in 1996 and 1998, have been bought from Mainstream Publishing – while the remaining three have been published in various past editions by Simon & Schuster.

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LONDON SPORTS WRITING FESTIVAL 17-20 OCTOBER 2013

The first London Sports Writing Festival will be held at Lord's Cricket Ground from 17-20 October. At the opening event, from 6.30-7.30pm on Thursday 17 October, Duncan Hamilton and I are due to talk about "great sports-writing" as two-time winners of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award. Duncan won in 2007 for Provided You Don't Kiss Me, his evocative book about Brian Clough, and two years later for his powerful biography of Harold Larwood. I'm obviously more long-in-the-tooth and won for Dark Trade in 1996 and In Black & White in 2002. Alyson Rudd, an excellent writer from The Times, who has also been a judge of the William Hill award in recent years, joins us. Mike Atherton, who has moved seamlessly from being a great cricketer to a great sportswriter of real authority and insight, will chair this session and hopefully curb any redundant rambling from me.

http://www.londonsportswritingfestival.com/?page_id=60

The question we're meant to answer on 17 October is…What Makes Great Sports Writing? I think, in short, I'll be saying the answer is very similar, and as intriguing, if you remove the word "sports" from the question.

A couple of days later, on Saturday 19 October, from 5-6pm, I'll join Ben Dirs, the BBC journalist whose compelling new book, The Hate Game, features a violently-riveting series of British fights from the 1990's, and Kevin Mitchell, my best ally in boxing at The Guardian. Kevin knows much more about boxing than me and his War, Baby is one of the definitive books to have emerged from our favourite red-light district of sports-writing. We'll be talking about the drama and hysteria of the rivalry between two contrasting fighters – Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn – and I'm sure, also, of Michael Watson and Gerald McClellan. Mike Costello, the BBC's venerable boxing and athletics commentator, will be in charge of an undoubtedly passionate but well-mannered chat.

http://www.londonsportswritingfestival.com/?page_id=64

And, beyond us, there is much, much more at the first London Sports Writing Festival…hats off to David Luxton and all those who have arranged it.

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Simon & Schuster Buy book rights

Simon & Schuster have just bought the rights to two of my books – Dark Trade and Winter Colours – from my old publishers Mainstream. Six of my eight books, from next year, will now be published by Simon & Schuster who will re-launch much of my back catalogue in 2014. I have also begun a new book which, at the outset, feels like it might be the best I have ever written. It's mainly set in the past but the last section will be rooted in the present. The book will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2015 as over two years of research are required for this one. More details to follow in the coming months…