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Among the Thugs Paperback – Oct 1 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (Oct. 1 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099416344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099416340
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #24,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Suber on Jan. 9 2002
Format: Paperback
Bill Buford slowly worked his way into a loose club of football hooligans. He witnessed, firsthand, football riots at away games and the daily lives of his subjects-- Britain's disaffected and alienated working class.
This book is remarkable document. It pulls no punches-- I felt a lot of sympathy and kinship with many of the hooligans. They are simply people who are bored by all the trivial entertainment around us and want a more visceral and demanding set of experiences from life.
Their crime? Too much passion. Too much patriotism. Too much of a desire to leave the everyday world of dead-end jobs behind.
This book is much better than something like 'Fight Club'. I recommend it to any amateur anthropologist interested in the modern human condition.
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Format: Paperback
Although good in its day, the simple truth is that this book has been overtaken by the explosion of hooligan related books in Britain. More importantly, anyone who knows anything about the hooligan scene will quickly realise that this book is simply too far fetched to be taken seriously. People just do not gain access to these type of groups that easily as I know from experince in my younger days.
A far better book on this subject is one which is sadly not available in the US but is entitled Barmy Army by Dougie Brimson.
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By Randy Menk on April 5 2001
Format: Paperback
I, like Mr. Buford, lived as a priveleged American in London during the heydey of bootboys and hooligans in the early and mid 70's. I was a teenager and a wannabe-hooligan, too young (early teens) to be a real hooligan. I travelled extensively on the "football specials" to away games, among them a 1973 FA Cup semifinal at Hillsborough (scene of the 1996 disaster that ended standing on the terraces forever), and the danger of violence was expected and palpable. I recall a lovely spring day in Southampton where hooligans in motorcycle helmets roamed the streets smashing milk bottles on heads in a completely random fashion. Unlike some readers, I found his descriptions dead-on accurate. The discussion of crowd theory and when things change right before they "go off" was fascinating, as well as absolutely true. The part of the book I found odd was the change of opinion from wanting to study his topic to throwing up his hands and deciding there was nothing to study. What's the conclusion, or are there none? I am happy to report that those days are, for the most part, over. Having recently returned from England, the ticket pricing, and all-seater stadiums, have eliminated the hooligan mobs at football matches. the reason the hooligans rampage in continental Europe is because that's all that is left (there are still terraces in much of Europe). Domestically, many of the football venues described by Mr. Buford have been torn down or rebuilt as all-seater stadia.
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Format: Paperback
To say that this work of nonfiction is about football is like saying The Godfather is about the mob. On a simple level, yes, it is about football fandom in England -- but there's so much more. I'd think that sociologists would love to get their hands on this book, especially the ones who study crowd dynamics, because that is undoubtedly Among the Thugs's greatest feat. What separates this book from most other crowd studies is that Buford fully immerses himself into the situation. Like the way Johnny Depp the cop becomes Donnie Brasco the gangster, Buford becomes a hooligan. He infiltrates their club and becomes a member, and we see their crazy, desperate violence from the primary source.
It's a dream come true -- none of these hooligans are smart enough to analyze their own psyches, but Buford, being infinitely smarter and aware, is able to report on being a hooligan. Haven't you ever wondered what might be going through an animal's mind? Here we have the answer. I don't know if I like the answer, but it's there, and it's as true as true journalism can get.
Buford was just a real pleasure to read, his self-deprecating humor making me chuckle many times over. His description of British football and its fans was so real that I felt almost uncomfortable. They're all animals, every last of'em! I'll be happy if I never see a soccer match live as long as I live.
The only part of the book I didn't enjoy was Part 3, Dusseldorf. I thought it slowed down significantly, and I wondered just why he kept going on. Then I noticed another chapter followed, Sardinia, and sighed. But Sardinia is worth it. It is absolutely where the book should have ended. Until Sardinia, I thought to myself, "What hasn't Buford done?" Read Sardinia. You'll see.
- SJW
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Format: Paperback
Bill Buford's "Among the Thugs" is one of the most engaging books I've read in a long time.
The first thing that is fascinating was his ability to "infiltrate" and gain the trust of the Manchester United supporters. This trust was not easily gained, but once attained it took him into several unforgettable situations.
Looking at the book within the wider scope of mob & crowd violence is an interesting point of view. Buford argues that once one person crosses the "threshold of violence" in a group then everyone feels like its okay. The larger the group is the easier it is to negate an individual's responsibility. He talks at length about the phenonmenon of the crowd taking on its dynamic and how the individual gets sucked into the moment and passion. Anyone that has ever attended a sporting event, a large concert or a street festival can surely attest to the excitement that exists when vast numbers of people are assembled. Add violence to that recipe of large crowds and excitement and you have a potential disaster on your hands. His tales of people that engage in violence as a form or recreation are befuddling and fascinating. Buford's writing draws you into the fervor of the crowd and you find yourself always wondering if "its going to go off." (A phrase used throughout the book.)
Aside from looking at the book in a larger sociological frame of reference, it is also quite enthralling as personal anecdote. Buford goes to Italy (twice) and all over England with a bunch of rowdy bruisers and other places in Europe.
It is interesting to see how someone with such a good education and an upbringing different from the other supporters (Buford is American) could so easily get swept along in all the excitement.
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