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This review is of the book "Paradise and Beyond : My Autobiography" by the footballer Chris Sutton, with additional writing help from Mark Guidi.
Chris Sutton played for a number of football clubs, and was once the most expensive football player in the country when he was bought by Blackburn Rovers from Norwich City. He later played for Chelsea, Celtic, Birmingham City and Aston Villa, but he is probably best known for playing for the first three clubs.
Sutton explains in the book why he felt the need to write it, saying that, "I'm not writing this to settle any scores or to put anyone down. Likewise, I'm not out to criticise any football club. But I felt strongly about clearing certain things up", and I felt this was an accurate portrayal of the book. It didn't seem overly defensive, and did seem to be more about putting the record straight.
One of the areas which Sutton addresses is his limited number of international caps, he played just once for England. There was an argument with Glenn Hoddle, then the England manager, and Sutton refused to play for the England B team, which led to him not being considered in future to represent his country. As Sutton writes, he regrets this decision, and would have very much liked to have played for England.
Sutton claims that he wanted Hoddle's version of events to be included in this book, but that Hoddle refused to take part in an interview. Although I understand this, as Hoddle could quite rightly worry about how his words would be used, I felt it was the right thing to offer to include, although a shame that it wasn't possible to get this added dimension into the book.
The offer of an interview was actually made to other managers who Sutton played for, and I found the interview with Martin O'Neill, who managed him at Celtic and Aston Villa, to be the most interesting, as it did offer that extra dimension of seeing Sutton from both his own account and from that of others.
Sutton also had a difficult time in his personal life, convicted of assault by spitting at a man when out, fearing that the death of his young son and also his fears about his own cancer fight. He writes that football isn't more important than life and death, and it is clear that the near death of his son was one of the most defining events of his life.
I felt overall that the book was well-written, and Sutton did have the help of Mark Guidi, who is an experienced sports writer. I found that the interviews with other people, from other managers to Sutton's wife, were interesting although they did break up the flow of the book because of how they are quoted in large sections.
I'm not a particularly knowledgeable football fan, so I was pleased that the book was written in an accessible way, otherwise it would have been harder for me to follow and understand. I felt that the book was a little disjointed and didn't always flow naturally, and possibly I didn't feel that the book felt as heart-felt as others I've read. This might possibly be the presence of Mark Guidi, or just because of the large sections which are quotes from others, but I did in general find the book interesting.
The hardback version of the book retails for 18.99 pounds, but is currently available from Amazon for 13.29 pounds including UK delivery. As the book was only published in October 2011, there aren't yet many second hand copies available, so these are currently not much better value than buying a new copy. The book's ISBN is 9781845023492 and the publisher is Black and White Publishing.
At the time of writing the Kindle version of this book is available from Amazon for just 1.29 pounds, which I feel represents very good value compared to the printed versions of the books. This price may however change, and the list price for the Kindle version is 9.43 pounds.
Overall I did find this book interesting and got to the end knowing more about Sutton and the sometimes difficult past which he has had, but also the great football talent which he had. I didn't feel that the book flowed as well as others, and sometimes the interviews with others are a little distracting, but they still offer an interesting insight. I would however recommend this book to football fans, especially as it is an honest look at his life and not just an attack on others.