Into The Arena is one of the better pieces of non-fiction literature I have ever read. Fiske-Harrison develops both major and minor characters from the world of Spanish bullfighting in a way that makes you truly imagine being there. I found myself Googling the histories of many matadors depicted in the book because they are depicted in a way that makes you want to know more. Each is presented as a fascinating protagonist of both bullfights described as intricate dances and of a personal, colorful, and unique life. The reader is drawn into relating to the matadors as both heroes and artists, egotists and humble, fallable, philosophical, humans, facing their fears. The breeders of bulls, support team, and aficionados are similarly depicted in a round way that draws the reader into their culture. Alexander Fiske-Harrison himself makes a worthy protagonist, managing to paint himself as the type of person most of us probably consider ourselves to be and can therefore sympathize with. He alternates between confidence, joy, melancholy, questioning, and a pantheon of other feelings, generally finding the dynamic balance of a mature and philosophically curious person in a complex world.
I highly recommend Into The Arena to anyone who is interested the interplay of art, brutality, history, and human nature. The book obviously discusses animal rights issues in detail, but to me it is more about how human beings interact with our planet in general, including the animals who live here with us, how we interact with death (of both ourselves and the animals), and what constitutes art.
Read it-- you will soon find yourself researching tickets to Spain and the bullfighting schedules for Cayetano or El Fandi-- after you realize that they are actual characters, today, and not only the wonderfully developed characters of a memorable book.