American audiences exposed to the EPL, La Liga or any other league for that matter, often times only get to see 2 dimensions of the game. First, the emphasis on the bigger team names, and second, the game itself. What they often fail to see is the intracacy of the game behind the game - that is, the cultural elements that make soccer overseas so unique, so passionate, and often times, so beyond the grasp of comprehension to the audience that is watching on Fox Soccer Channel.
In Morbo, Phil Ball does a wonderful job of illustrating the cultural background to spanish soccer. And true to form, he effectively illustrates that La Liga is not only about Barcelona and Real Madrid. There is much history between these two clubs but fortunately, Ball doesn't spend all his effort on them. Instead he dives into the history of spanish soccer, starting with English miners, to the history of clubs that no one has heard of outside of Spain, like Recreativo de Huelva.
This is far more a cultural study, than it is a history of spanish soccer. Balls successfully discusses how the two paths combine, and how club support was defined more by class/politics/ and culture, than by a jersey's color. It certainly goes a long way in helping outsiders understand the level of support and the long ties people have to clubs. It is especially interesting in light of how the modern world is shaping the game.
Finally, like many sports leagues, there is history and their is myth. Ball does a service to the spanish game by not buying into the myth of some of the rivalries (Betis-Sevilla, RM-Barcelona, Athletic-everyone else). In doing so, he provides a complete and true picture of how the game has evolved on the Iberian peninsula.
For people interested in understanding how events actually shaped the game in Spain, this is a must read. There are plenty of books out there about Real Madrid and Barcelona, but there are few books that look at Spanish soccer with this depth and refreshing candor.