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Futebol [Hardcover]

Alex Bellos
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Through the lens of Brazil's trademark sport, Alex Bellos brings us a fascinating portrait of Brazilian identity.
The Brazilian soccer team is one of the modern wonders of the world. Its essence is a game in which prodigious individual skills outshine team tactics, where dribbles and flicks are preferred over physical challenges or long-distance passes, where technique has all the elements of dance and, indeed, is often described as such. At their best Brazilians are, we like to think, both athletes and artists. Soccer is how the world sees Brazil, but it is also how Brazilians see themselves. The game symbolizes racial harmony, flamboyance, youth, innovation, and skill, and yet it is also a microcosm of the country itself, containing all of its contradictions.
Travelling extensively from Uruguay to the northeastern backlands, and from the coastal cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo to the Amazon jungle, Alex Bellos shows how Brazil changed soccer and how soccer shaped Brazil. He tells the stories behind the great players, like Pele and Garrincha, the great teams, and the great matches, as well as extraordinary stories from people and pitches all over this vast country. With an unerring eye for a good story and a marvelous ear for the voices of the people he meets, Alex Bellos uncovers what Ronaldo called the 'true truth' about Brazilian soccer.

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Futebol is sub-titled "The Brazilian Way of Life", and if any sport can truly be deemed to be such a thing for any country on the planet, then surely the sport must be football, and the country Brazil. Alex Bellos's study of football in Brazil, its history, its players, supporters and legends, works from the standpoint that Brazilian football is one the modern wonders of the world, "the beautiful game" being an art form in itself and a universally recognised trademark and brand. From such a view, he is able to entertain the reader not only with stories about great players and matches well known by the followers of world football, but also about the unique position of the game in the world's fifth largest country. Thus featured here are not only tales of Garrincha, Socrates and Ronaldo, of Flamengo and Fluminense, but also of football amongst the Indians of the Amazon, Brazilian footballers in the Faroe Islands and the story of the design (and designer) of the famous golden yellow Brazilian shirt, perhaps the most instantly recognisable icon in football anywhere. Where other books investigating the footballing culture of one country might have a more straightforward story to tell, Bellos uses this more eclectic approach. While the subjects of his observations are linked by the common threads of football and Brazil, he still captures magnificently the beauty, passion and the occasional absurdity of the world game in the world's number one footballing nation. --Trevor Crowe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Bellos is an astute reported who writes clean, sparkling prose...he has produced a rich and enjoyable book." -- Chicago Tribune

"Compelling, alternately funny and dark...Bellos offers a cast of charachters as colorful as a Carnival parade." -- Publishers Weekly starred review

"Full of cheeky exuberance...an irresistible blend of many things at once." -- Time Out New York

"This book is the best way to explore this eccentric culturally verdant country." -- Forbes

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Futebol: The Brazilian way (of writing) Jan. 12 2003
Format:Hardcover
This is an outstanding book about the Brazilian soccer and culture. As Brazilian and top soccer fan, I can say that the book is rich in details and realistic information that few Brazilians know. It is clear that Alex did extensive, diligent, and almost Herculean researches all over this continental size country. The author clearly described the history of Brazilian soccer, our passion for soccer, idols, martyrs, the bad-guys, the culture behind soccer, memorable moments, episodes we are ashamed, the corruption, and justice in this sport. The superior English sense of humor makes this book a very relaxing and entertaining reading.
This book should be translated to Portuguese. It is top reference in any Brazilian soccer fan library. It really worth the reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
The author has superbly combined sports journalism with anthropological analysis and written a splendid book. If you like soccer, or want to know why Brazil has won the World Cup five times, this book will explain it. If you want to understand the nuances of Brazilian culture, this book explains it through Soccer.
I especially enjoyed the chapters on Garrincha and the 'Pelada' in Manaus. In addition, the sense of humor that the author has is funny, and provides great insight into Brazilian life.
In short, highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than 5 stars! Aug. 3 2002
By Brian Maitland TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Easily the best book written on soccer ever. If you want to learn the why and wherefores of Brazilian soccer, buy this now! There really are no words to explain how insightful and fun the writing style is and the research here is beyond amazing. You think you know all about Brazilian soccer from watching Ronaldo et al in the World Cup, then think again. It's more than samba style and goals galore. It's Brazil itself in all its glory from sun, sex and sand to completely corrupt political dealings to bizarre religious soccer rituals.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Who put the beauty in the beautiful game? May 7 2002
Format:Hardcover
A heartfelt odyssey through the heartland of the most popular game in the world. Bellos has travelled the world in his search for the soul of Brazilian football. Along the way, it seems like he has talked to everyone who has ever played a part in its development. From former World Cup stars like Socrates and Pele, to the low-level players who ply their trade in the Faroe islands, the author finds time to explore expound upon and eventually explode the myth of 'o jogo bonito'.
When the first footballs arrived in Brazil at the end of the nineteenth century (in the baggage of a British industrialist, naturally) no one could ever have imagined the revolutionary effect they would bring about.
But add football to a huge number of displaced ex-slaves, a culture of music and capoiera, and a desire among employers to encourage physical exercise among their employees, then put it all together in a new country that desperately needs myths of its own, and you soon end up with a national sporting obsession that no other place in the world can match.
As Bellos shows, football has an unshakeable grip on the Brazilian psyche. A grip that culminated in the World Cup triumph of Mexico 1970. (Coincidentally, the first time the global football jamboree was beamed in colour around the world, courtesy of television.)
In the years since then, the myth of Brazilian football has grown while performances on the field have faded. The team that won USA 94 did so without plaudits from their own people, while the current national side has fallen from grace almost completely owing to its controversial allegiance to Nike and the sheer dullness of its football. (Which has become almost European in its one-dimensionality).
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