How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization Paperback – May 11 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Foer, a New Republic editor, scores a game-winning goal with this analysis of the interchange between soccer and the new global economy. The subtitle is a bit misleading, though: he doesn't really use soccer to develop a theory; instead, he focuses on how examining soccer in different countries allows us to understand how international forces affect politics and life around the globe. The book is full of colorful reporting, strong characters and insightful analysis: In one of the most compelling chapters, Foer shows how a soccer thug in Serbia helped to organize troops who committed atrocities in the Balkan War—by the end of the war, the thug's men, with the acquiescence of Serbian leaders, had killed at least 2,000 Croats and Bosnians. Then he bought his own soccer club and, before he was gunned down in 2000, intimidated other teams into losing. Most of the stories aren't as gruesome, but they're equally fascinating. The crude hatred, racism and anti-Semitism on display in many soccer stadiums is simply amazing, and Foer offers context for them, including how current economic conditions are affecting these manifestations. In Scotland, the management of some teams have kept religious hatreds alive in order to sell tickets and team merchandise. But Foer, a diehard soccer enthusiast, is no anti-globalist. In Iran, for example, he depicts how soccer works as a modernizing force: thousands of women forced police to allow them into a men's-only stadium to celebrate the national team's triumph in an international match. One doesn't have to be a soccer fan to truly appreciate this absorbing book.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Americans are fond of jokes that play on our incomprehension of soccer, and, at times, this ignorance seems an apt metaphor for our intellectual disengagement from the world. But we ignore the world-- and its favorite sport--at our peril. In his wonderfully conceived treatise, journalist Foer uses soccer as an arena in which to examine world events, such as Balkan genocide (Serbian gangster Arkan helped form Milosevic's paramilitary troops from among Red Star supporters), and worldviews, such as U.S. culture wars (he uses the game as a metaphor for our divided attitudes about globalization, an issue that underlies our cultural split). Evenhanded and well reported, it's written in a crisp and engaging style that will hook even readers who have no idea how the "beautiful game" is played. Perfectly timed to coincide with soccer's growing coolness (team jerseys are a hipster's must-have), this excellent book belongs with two other great soccer-outsider inquiries, Bill Buford's Among the Thugs (1992) and Joe McGinniss' The Miracle of Castel di Sangro (1999). Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I also really dug the whole revealing on the Milan-Juventus axis of power and influence over refereeing in Serie A. Sure Brian Glanville has beaten this to death elsewhere but Franklin Foer writes in a much more clear and concise manner.
The only fault I see with the book is the chapter on his own nation, the U.S., and why soccer really has failed to grip the nation. I think his dismissal of MLB's failed attempts to globalize baseball misses the fact that this spring of 2006 will see the first World Baseball Classic in a format similar to soccer's World Cup Finals. A better comparison would have been how NFL football despite various forays into Europe, Asia and Mexico (well, they did well this year at the Azteca so maybe there is hope) has really not resulted in the world embracing [American] football.
If you liked this book, I'd also recommend: Soccer Against the Enemy by Kuper, Africa United by Steve Bloomfield and Soccer Empire by Laurent Dubois.
I really enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend it. Another book for hockey lovers that fits in the same vein (although certainly less political) was written by Dave Bidini, but the title escapes me at the moment.
Most recent customer reviews
Well, the title promises way more than is delivered. This is a good 30,000 foot view I guess but to satisfy one needs to get down into the weeds and that doesn't really happen... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Tom McGreevy
The title could easily be the other way around. While Foer uses soccer as a metaphor to explain globalization, his theory states that soccer explains the world, I believe the... Read morePublished on July 5 2010 by Luigi Di Serio
This is a strong work. Like J.C. Hallman's "The Chess Artist" for Chess and Stephan Fatsis' "Word Freak" for Scrabble, Foer goes on a world tour via soccer... Read morePublished on July 5 2004
The reviews will tell you how insightful this book is, and how much it has to say about the way we live now. All of that is very true. Read morePublished on July 4 2004