Dishing the dirt: 10 books that rattled cages, ruffled feathers and made the fur fly

None of these authors should consider a career in the diplomatic corps as they let rip with revenge, retaliation, conspiracy theories and good old common abuse
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KP: The Autobiography

"Infamy, infamy, they've all got it in for me," wailed Kenneth Williams as Julius Caesar in Carry On Cleo, a line that seems to sum up Kevin Pietersen's view of his team-mates, the entire England cricket set-up, the media and, who knows, probably life, the universe and the whole damn thing. Few people come out of it well, least of all KP himself.

The Second Half

Another card-carrying member of the awkward squad, Roy Keane revisits old feuds, including Sir Alex Ferguson, his manager at Manchester United ("Will I ever forgive him? I don't know"); and hated opponent Alf-Inge Haaland ("Weak… average player"). At last week's launch of this latest autobiography, Keane added Jose Mourinho to his hitlist. Expect another chapter in the paperback edition.

Alex Ferguson: My Biography

"The hardest part of Roy's body is his tongue," claims the bold knight in an entire chapter chronicling his fallings-out with Keane. In contrast, he devotes a scant four pages to Manchester United's debt-ridden takeover by the Glazer family, preferring to belabour bêtes noires such as Arsène Wenger (12 pages) and Rafa Benitez, plus, of course, the BBC.

Foul: The Secret World of Fifa

No score-settling here, but plenty to appal as serial grime-buster Andrew Jennings delves into the dark recesses of football's governing body. Published in 2006, its subtitle, "Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals", has been more than justified by subsequent events. Never has dirt been dished with more justification.

The Fix Is In

Do professional sports in the US regularly manipulate results to increase TV revenues? Brian Tuohy thinks so: he claims, for instance, that the New England Patriots were allowed to beat the St Louis Rams in the 2002 Super Bowl, a huge upset, because the NFL were "attempting to capitalise on the nation's unfettered patriotic sentiment" in the wake of 9/11. The lack of one shred of hard evidence weakens his case a tad, but that's the joy of conspiracy theories.

Cycle of Lies

Books about the spectacular fall from grace of Lance Armstrong have become a mini-industry, but American journalist Juliet Macur, who knows him well, dug more deeply into his personal life than most, and the results aren't pretty. She portrays an out-of-control adolescent given to under-age boozing, fighting in bars and drink-driving, who morphed into a ruthless, sweary man who would stop at nothing to crush anyone who dared to challenge him.

The Outsider

Brash, chippy and potty-mouthed, Jimmy Connors was widely disliked on the tennis circuit in his playing days, and nothing much seems to have changed. "Mellowed? Screw that," the 62-year-old says in his autobiography, as he accuses Chris Evert, his fiancée of over 40 years ago, of being a humourless, promiscuous nag. As for his readers, if we don't like him we can "fuck off". Bye-bye then, Jimbo.

Confessions of a Rugby Mercenary

John Daniell, an itinerant Kiwi, played top-flight rugby union in France for 11 years from 1996. His account is an eye-opener – or an eye-closer, as he found "having a dirty fingernail scrape along the back of your eye socket" was the favoured Gallic method of slowing down opponents, and he also lays into dodgy agents, devious owners, manic managers and self-serving team-mates.

You Cannot Be Serious!

Knockabout stuff from Matthew Norman, whose victims include Pele: "Genius that he was on the pitch, off it he struggles to make the cut as a half-wit"; and cricket commentator Mark Nicholas: "a cocky drawler [whose] self-besottedness shines blindingly from every glance to camera".

Sods I Have Cut on the Turf

Included here mainly because of its splendid title, jockey, trainer and racing journalist Jack Leach's memoirs nevertheless have some sharp things to say about the Turf fraternity, not least bookies: "Never bet with a bookmaker if you see him knocking spikes into his shoes."