Jimmy Burns Maranon OBE was born in Madrid in 1953 to Anglo-Spanish parents. His mother, Mabel, was the daughter of the doctor and writer Gregorio Maranon and his father, Tom Burns, was a publisher, journalist and diplomat. Jimmy Burns was a journalist for the Financial Times for thirty years, working as a foreign correspondent and specialist in intelligence. He is now a full time author and freelance journalist, with expertise in security, espionage, Latin America and Spanish football among other things.
His previous books include The Land That Lost Its Heroes, winner of the Somerset Maugham prize for non-fiction, Papa Spy, Barca, When Beckham went to Spain, Beyond the Silver River, and the internationally acclaimed Hand Of God: The Life Of Diego Maradona. His most recent book, La Roja, a history of Spanish national football, was published by Simon and Schuster in the UK and Nation Books in the US in May 2012.
Jimmy’s next book, Francis: Pope of Good Promise, the story of Pope Francis I’s first year in office, was published by Constable in September 2015.
Ask any football fan who’s better, Ronaldo or Messi and they’ll have an opinion.
Football is a team game. It’s virtually unheard of to have the sort of focused, one on one rivalries that dominate individual sports. But for the best part of the last decade football has seen a personal rivalry unlike any seen before. Cristiano and Leo. This is their definitive story, from children kicking a ball halfway around the world from each other to their era-defining rivalry.
One the preening adonis, a precision physical machine who blows teams away with his pace and power. The other a shuffling genius, able to do things with a football that seem other-worldly. Their differences seem to tap into something fundamental about football and indeed life.
Between them they have scored over a thousand goals, won the Ballon d’Or nine times and redefined modern football. For the past eight seasons they have shared the accolade of best footballer in the world and arguments rage over which one deserves the title of greatest player of all time. Cristiano and Leo by journalist and author Jimmy Burns is the essential book to understand the defining players of a generation.
Publisher: Macmillan (31 May 2018)
FRANCIS: POPE OF GOOD PROMISE — Buy it here
From the moment Pope Francis stepped on to the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica for the first time, a global audience sensed that not only the Catholic Church but the world at large could be entering a new spiritual, political and social age.
In the days following Pope Francis’ election, there would be further early signs of the simplicity worthy of the first apostles and the leader that inspired them. Not since John XIII appeared on the scene half a century earlier had a new Pope opened the windows of the Church in such a way as to let in some much needed fresh air. Nevertheless, for the excitement generated by the first Latin American Pope and a man who claimed to want to put the poor back at the centre of the Church’s social teaching, people could still only guess where it might be all be leading.
Francis: Pope of Good Promise is neither an instant media job, nor a hagiography based on authorised interviews, but the product of diligent investigation across a wide range of official and independent sources – a measured, objective portrait of a man who, in circumstances that he neither sought nor foresaw, found himself handed the highest office at a time of crisis not just for the Church but for long established institutions worldwide from banks to political parties.
PUBLICATION DATE: 10 September 2015
US PUBLISHER: St Martin’s Press
US PUBLICATION: September 2015
RIGHTS CONTROLLED: Translation
RIGHTS SOLD: Chinese (complex)
LA ROJA: A JOURNEY THROUGH SPANISH FOOTBALL – Buy it here
The author of a best-selling biography of Diego Maradona, and similarly widely acclaimed books on FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, digs deep into the roots of the most popular sport, to look at how football played in Spain became the most admired in the world. From its early beginnings when the first football on the shores of Bilbao and Buenos Aires was played by British sailors and engineers, through to the influx of South American stars, and similarly inspirational Italians, Dutchman and Scandinavians, the author shows how the engagement of foreigners with home-grown Spanish talent overcame political adversity and produced football of sublime skill, passion, and unparalleled entertainment value. The book takes us on a journey through some of the extraordinary characters, games, and moments that have defined Spanish football from the early days when a few enthusiasts developed their talent kicking a ball around on a piece of industrial waste-ground or beach, to the emergence of rival giants, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid – the most powerful and successful football clubs in the world – and a national team that, encompassing all that was most brilliant in the Spanish League, became the World Champions.
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster (UK), Nation Books (US)
PUBLICATION DATE: 10th May 2012 (UK), 29th May 2012 (US)
BARCA: A PEOPLE’S PASSION — Buy it here.
Founded in 1898, FC Barcelona or Barca, is the world’s biggest and best-loved football club. Barca has more than 500 local fan clubs spread across the world, while its championship matches attract a global TV audience. Former players include such legendary figures as Kubala, Maradona, Cruyff, Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Lineker, and Barca has been managed by greats such as Helenio Herrera, Cesar Menotti and Bobby Robson. The club’s honorary members have included Pope John Paul II and opera star Jose Carreras. To unravel the background to the Barca phenomenon, Jimmy Burns has unearthed police files and long-forgotten newspaper reports. He has travelled with supporters and has talked to people intimately linked to the club, from managers and players to groundsmen and doctors, whilst also gaining access to those who have conspired to gain political and financial control.
PUBLICATION DATE: 31 July 1999
RIGHTS CONTROLLED: Translation
RIGHTS SOLD: Polish
MARADONA: THE HAND OF GOD – Buy it here.
Diego Maradona, is arguably the greatest and certainly the most widely-known footballer of the modern age. During his tempestuous career he played for top clubs in South America and Europe, and was a central figure in four World Cups. With the fortunes he has earned from sponsorship and transfer deals, he personified football, both as popular sport and big business. Jimmy Burns pursued his research in several countries on both sides of the Atlantic, gaining access to Maradona’s inner circle, and to other key witnesses, such as players, managers, trainers, doctors and officials. The result is a story straddling the international scene, from the slums of Buenos Aires, where Maradona was born, to the huge stadiums of the United States from where, in 1994, he was ignobly expelled after undergoing a positive drugs test. In his rise to fame – and notoriety – Maradona played for some of the world’s greatest teams: Boca Juniors, Napoli and Barcelona. He scored some brilliant goals – and cheated with others. He provoked fans into a mass hysteria of adulation, and his enemies into sinister campai.
PUBLICATION DATE: 19 Sept 1996, reissued 7 June 2010
PAPA SPY – Buy it here
In the 1930s Tom Burns was a rising star of British publishing, whose friends and authors included G. K. Chesterton, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, the artist Eric Gill and the poet David Jones. And among his glittering social circle he had set his heart on the beautiful Ann Bowes-Lyon, cousin of the Queen. When war was declared in 1939, Burns joined the Ministry of Information, effectively the propaganda wing of the secret services. Sent to Madrid as press attached at the British Embassy, where the Ambassador was the formidable and very Protestant Sir Samuel Hoare, Burns used his faith and his deep love of Spain in the propaganda war against the Nazis, who at the time had pretty much unrestricted access to the Spanish media. Burns’ brief was to do all in his power to keep Franco neutral and so protect Gibraltar and access to the western Mediterranean. The strategy was simple, but the tactics were more complicated, especially when Burns found he had begun to make enemies at home, not least among them Kim Philby and Anthony Blunt, head of the MI6’s Iberian section. By 1941 he felt far from the real fighting, Ann had pledged herself to another man, and Burns was spending as much time protecting his back as fighting the Nazis.
How he overcame these odds, was involved in the Man Who Never Was decoy plot, arranged Leslie Howard’s fatal propaganda trip to Portugal and Spain, and finally found true love while loyally serving his country is the story told in this extraordinary book by his son.
PUBLICATION DATE: 7th September 2009
Buy it here.
“What a country is Spain for a traveller,” remarked Washington Irving, “where the most miserable inn is as full of adventure as an enchanted castle.” He was not the first to be captivated. A country of immense contrasts, Spain has always inspired writers and travellers, and in this book the reader accompanies them into a history and culture enriched by the influence of other lands and by the wealth of a great empire, though seared as well by frequent wars.
THE LAND THAT LOST IT’S HEROES — Buy it here
An account of the military planning of the invasion of the Falklands, exposing the motives and nature of Argentina’s military regime and the reactions of British diplomacy and intelligence. The author was foreign correspondent in Argentina for the “Financial Times” from 1981-86.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2 April 1987
WHEN BECKHAM WENT TO SPAIN
David Beckham’s transfer to Real Madrid was football’s worst kept secret. After he moved, it seemed the British press devoted more coverage to the Spanish game than their own. But while Beckham’s arrival at Real Madrid captured the world’s imagination, in the hands of author Jimmy Burns, this is much more than a book about David Beckham and Real Madrid. It is about how Spain became Europe’s most exciting country, a revolution in the world of football; and how this came to be epitomised by the arrival of a sports icon.
PUBLISHER: Michael Joseph
PUBLICATION DATE: 20 Sept 2004