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Among the Thugs [Paperback]

Bill Buford
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 1 2001
The acclaimed bestseller (over 63,000 copies sold in paperback) now reissued with a new cover.

What kind of man spends his Saturday afternoons with people named Bonehead, Paraffin Pete and Steamin’ Sammy? Bill Buford’s acclaimed Among the Thugs is a book about the experience and the attractions of crowd violence.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The American-born editor of the British literary magazine Granta presents a horrifying, searing account of the young British men who turn soccer matches at home and abroad into battlegrounds and slaughterhouses. Buford, resident in England for the last 15 years, set out to get acquainted with these football supporters--as their fellow Britons call them in more measured moments--to learn what motivates their behavior. He discovered a group of violent, furiously nationalistic, xenophobic and racist young men, many employed in high-paying blue-collar jobs, who actively enjoy destroying property and hurting people, finding "absolute completeness" in the havoc they wreak. He also discerned strong elements of latent homosexuality in this destructive male bonding. Following his subjects from local matches to contests in Italy, Germany and Sardinia, Buford shows that they are the same wherever they go: pillaging soldiers fighting a self-created war.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Buford, a native of the United States, is the editor of the London-based literary magazine Granta . In 1982 he witnessed the takeover of a train, a football special, by English soccer thugs. He reveals how fascination for this distinctly English phenomenon of "soccer hooliganism" led him to follow a group of violent supporters of the Manchester United Red Devils. Buford is accepted into the group and in time seems to develop a sixth sense about impending violence or when things, in English parlance, are "going to go off." Particularly riveting is his account of the aftermath of a match in Turin, Italy, where 200 or so Manchester supporters marched through the ancient streets leaving fire and destruction in their wake. Buford's original theories on football violence, fraught with notions about disenfranchised youth and the frustration of the working class, are forever dashed. He concludes that the English working class is dead, and what remains is a culture so vapid that " . . . it pricks itself so that it has feeling, burns its flesh so that is has smell." Public and academic libraries should have this.
- Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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4.0 out of 5 stars True to Life April 5 2001
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Extreme Football, and I Don't Mean XFL March 17 2001
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining/fascinating on many different levels Nov. 23 2000
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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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Skeptical
Bill Buford's book makes for an interesting read, no doubt. And kudos go to whoever designed the cover jacket. Read more
Published on June 17 2003 by Andy Orrock
2.0 out of 5 stars Great work of fiction
I think the author here either has some major issues ne needs to deal with . The kind of people described here in the book are about 1 1,000th of how british soccer fans are . Read more
Published on Aug. 23 2001 by ANDY COLE
1.0 out of 5 stars Too dated and unbelievable
Although good in its day, the simple truth is that this book has been overtaken by the explosion of hooligan related books in Britain. Read more
Published on June 19 2001 by Mick Cooke
5.0 out of 5 stars What Makes Some Peple Tick?
This book is a verbal news photo from the front. I liked it. It adequately explains and describes behaviour and people that can only be classified as perverse. Read more
Published on Oct. 6 2000 by Alfred L. Hathcock
4.0 out of 5 stars Oh, come on!
Among the Thugs is highly entertaining: it's Michael Herr meets Bill Bryson--a hybrid that has produced a documentary of the British hooligan phenomenon that is at once gripping,... Read more
Published on Sept. 5 2000 by Richard Singer
1.0 out of 5 stars Gullible and sensationalistic
This book is well written, and that is the only positive thing about it. The author suggests that he immersed himself in the life of English hooligans. Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2000 by O. Adang
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, deeply disturbing, thrilling, a voyuer's trip
This book will put you into the shoes and mind of the football thug. The American author of this non-fiction book enters into the fold of British football hooligans, in an attempt... Read more
Published on Aug. 27 2000 by Paris1929
4.0 out of 5 stars This story is as ugly as the lad on the cover.
Buford spent several years closely involved with various English football (soccer) hooligans. This is really the story of how his initial interest in crowd behavior developed... Read more
Published on Aug. 13 2000 by W. Doyle
5.0 out of 5 stars An honest account
Buford's experiences with football (soccer) hooligans, most of them supporters of Manchester United, is an honest and brutal account of what is out there. Read more
Published on July 14 2000 by Stosh D. Walsh
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