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Red or Dead by David Peace

Red or Dead by David Peace is a wonderful, majestic and haunting modernist masterpiece.

The book is a fictionalised account of Bill Shankly’s 15 years at the helm of Liverpool FC and follows in Peace’s previous fiction, like the Damned United, GB84 and the Red Riding Quartet, of focusing on the 1970s and 1980s, where the socialist dream in the UK slowly gave way to Thatcherism never really to be seen again.

Another Peace tradition is a staccato, percussive prose style, where the rhythm of repetition becomes utterly hypnotic and links neatly to Shankly’s management style, where training drills were repeated endlessly.

As a Peace fan, I can say with confidence that this remains his highest point among a lengthy career of high points - there is something about the subject matter, the team and the era in which it is set that makes this so intensely beguiling.

At 700+ pages, coupled with Peace’s unique way of writing, this may not be the most appetising of books to start but, for me, it has been one of the most rewarding.