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Barca: A People's Passion [Hardcover]

Jimmy Burns
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1 1999 0747541957 978-0747541950
Founded in 1898, FC Barcelona, also know as Barca, is today the world's biggest football club. Its 120,000-seat stadium, Camp Nuo, is one of the great cathedrals of the game, and its museum is the most visited in Spain. This is the story of FC Barcelona and its evolution as a social and political phenomenon.

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Review

'Burns' strength lies not just in his compulsive, well-told story of the club's evolution, but his notable grasp of Catalan history.' -- Sunday Times

'Excellent...A densely detailed account of the history of FC BArcelona...Coincides with Barcelona's 100th anniversary but it is not in the least pious.' -- Daily Telegraph

'FC Catalonia could scarcely have wished for a more thorough but sympathetic chronicler.' -- Sunday Telegraph

'Well-written, the book details the level of passion of a club that refuses to tarnish its shirt with a sponser and still belongs to its members.' -- Manchester United

About the Author

Jimmy Burns is social affairs and employment correspondent at the FINANCIAL TIMES. His previous books are The Land That Lost Its Heroes, winner of the Somerset Maugham prize for non-fiction; Beyond the Silver River; Spain: A Literary Companion; and the internationally acclaimed Hand of God: The Life of Diego Maradona. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful May 18 2001
Format:Paperback
Jimmy Burns is a very good writer. In this book he conveys the relationship between the Barcelona football club and the people of the Catalan region of Spain. It's a history of the Catalan people written through their love of their football team. He takes you through the Spanish Civil War (when the only place the Catalan's could display their regional pride was at the stadium) all the way to present day (the rivalry with the Castillon side Real Madrid is as touchy as ever). A great read for any football fan, sports fan or someone interested in history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More than a Club March 1 2003
Format:Paperback
Jimmy Burns writes dispassionately about a football club that evokes the strongest of emotions, including the kind of tribal love that borders on the chauvenistic. Fans of the club interested in modern Spanish history will appreciate the author's intertwining of football and politics. At times, however, this well-researched book feels drained of the game's abundant color and spirit as club presidents receive far more attention than the boot room. Burns presents Barca's story chronologically, offering an absorbing account of the club's creation, but when Franco arrives on the scene, the pages become populated with conniving industrialists. While certainly part of Barca's story, the board room machinations of ambitious men, the suited grandees who routinely violate the club's dubious democratic ethos, drown out the passion of the cules.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful May 18 2001
By Justin Berkner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Jimmy Burns is a very good writer. In this book he conveys the relationship between the Barcelona football club and the people of the Catalan region of Spain. It's a history of the Catalan people written through their love of their football team. He takes you through the Spanish Civil War (when the only place the Catalan's could display their regional pride was at the stadium) all the way to present day (the rivalry with the Castillon side Real Madrid is as touchy as ever). A great read for any football fan, sports fan or someone interested in history.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you love Barca... Sept. 10 2005
By J. S. Lloyd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book provides a great overview of the history of the club, its stars, the machinations of its ruling junta, and the passion of the cules, all against the backdrop of Catalonia's political struggle for identity and independence within Spain. Burns provides some nice historical details and great anecdotes, but, as is to be expected considering the hundred year focus of the book and the complexity of 20th century Spain, necessarily deals with some of the political history in a less comprehensive manner.

Although it at times extremely well-written, the book could have done with tighter editing (hence, 4 stars). Burns repeats his descriptions of individuals and events in subsequent pages and at time his prose is florid and unfocused. Pretty minor complaints, however. Although not uncritical, Burns clearly appreciates what Barca have achieved. He also questions how the club will adjust, or might be changed, in the new century. Overall, the book is an excellent read, and continually succeeds in portraying the people involved as just that, people with passions and short-comings. At the end, you understand why the club embodies true football, why it inspires such passion, and why it's such an important part of Catalonia. Forca Barca!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good History of FC Barcelona Feb. 8 2007
By N. Warner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I highly recommend this book for Barca fans and for general football fans alike. Not only does Burns write about the great players and personalities of the club, he also places them into a historical context.

This was one of the great surprises of the book. He spends considerable time placing Barca's history into the context of the Spanish Civil War and resulting Franco era. Students of Spanish History would do well to read this book.

Overall, I enjoyed it greatly, and hope to read more of Burns' football books.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Read Nov. 14 2006
By Paul Marc Oliu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Let me first say that I am very bias. I've been an FCB "soci" since 1981, played in their youth system for a couple of years, and by and large am one of the many fans that buys into the whole "Mes que un Club" mantra.

So understanding that, let me just say that Jimmy Burns has done a fantastic job helping the reader understand how history has shaped the meaning of "Mes que un Club". Part history, part sociology, Burns discusses the club's history, both real and invented, that pushed FCB into being the opposition to Real Madrid.

Keep in mind this is more than a book on the Club. Burns adeptly weaves the Club and the sport with Catalan politics and identity. Always balancing the passions of "Cules" with the machination of the member's of the board, one truly gets a sense of the depth of history and passion behind the Club.

The reader learns some of the details behind some of FCB lore, from the Di Stefano controversy, the Kings Cup match against Real Madrid after the Civil War, to the famous field invasion that erupted into a pro-Catalunya demonstration toward the end of the Franco regime. Some of the myths are debunked, but in all, the Clubs history is given a fair shake.

Keep in mind - On the downside, Jimmy Burns does favor the Catalan club, more times than not. He doesn't approach the topic dispassionately.

As a follow up to A Peaople's Passion, another great read on Spanish football can be found in Phil Ball's excellent book, Morbo. It touches upon the unique history of Spanish football from it's roots in the mines of Huelva, through the use of the sport in identity politics, particularly in the Basque Country and Catalunya.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More than a Club March 1 2003
By Michael S. Mahoney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Jimmy Burns writes dispassionately about a football club that evokes the strongest of emotions, including the kind of tribal love that borders on the chauvenistic. Fans of the club interested in modern Spanish history will appreciate the author's intertwining of football and politics. At times, however, this well-researched book feels drained of the game's abundant color and spirit as club presidents receive far more attention than the boot room. Burns presents Barca's story chronologically, offering an absorbing account of the club's creation, but when Franco arrives on the scene, the pages become populated with conniving industrialists. While certainly part of Barca's story, the board room machinations of ambitious suits drown out the passion of the cules.

The last few chapters of this history manage a comeback. Johann Cruyff swoops down on the Catalan capital and with a combination of deft moves and Dutch footballing genius restokes Barca's smoldering fires. Cruyff is the catalyst. The passages describing his obsessiveness and his successors success or failure to embrace the pulsing life of Barcelona are intriguing pictures of the cultural assimilation phenomenon. Dutchmen, who possess a paradoxical nature, both catholic and single-minded, universal and gaulingly self-possessed, obviously feel a kinship with FC Barcelona, with the Catalan spirit. The present manager of the team, Frank Rijkaard, is a perfect example of the Dutchmen that Burns describes as having an essential talismanic role at the club. Forca Barca.
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