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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2004
Foer is an excellent writer, and for those who aren't familiar with the history of the sport this is an excellent introduction. For those who are already well-read on football, much of this will be too familiar. The religious and political context of the Celtic v. Rangers rivalry, the laughable corruption of Brazilian football, and basically every other story in this book has already been covered by other writers. Though the globalization theme tries to bring a new perspective to these old stories, it just feels gimmicky. If you've already read Simon Kuper's FOOTBALL AGAINST THE ENEMY you'll regret spending your money here. If you haven't read Kuper's book, but you're interested in the sport, buy it immediately. This is light reading designed for those who know nothing about the sport's history. For those looking for more depth and more entertainment, skip this and go straight to Kuper, David Winner's BRILLIANT ORANGE, and Alex Bellos' FUTEBOL: SOCCER, THE BRAZILIAN WAY. All three are excellent, entertaining, and provide more insight into the topics Foer touches on. To summarize: the typical American reader with limited soccer knowledge will enjoy this, those with real interest in the subject would do well to move on to more meaty fare.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 16, 2005
Sure this book can be compared to Simon Kuper's Football Against the Enemy, but it stands well on its own. I'm sure most soccer fans know of the infamous Red Star Belgrade vs. Dinamo Zagreb free-for-all that was a foreshadowing of the wars in the Balkans, but it's still interesting to learn how these Red Star hooligans became the strike force for one of the most notorious war criminals (Arkan) in modern history. So right from this first chapter, you will be hooked whether you are a soccer fan or not.
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.
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on July 9, 2004
Foer is an excellent writer, but for football fans who read a lot about the sport, much of this will seem overly familiar. Though he does his best to bring a new perspective to these stories, his focus on globalization still ends up feeling gimmicky. The religious and political aspects of the Celtic v. Rangers rivalry, the ludicrous corruption of Brazilian football, and many of the other stories here have been well-covered by writers like Simon Kuper, Alex Bellos and others. While I think Foer's name and reputation might help introduce non-fans to some of football's fascinating history--and that's a good thing--football fans who are well-read on the topic will wonder why Foer bothered writing what's already been written. For an introduction to the history of the sport, this isn't bad at all, but Kuper's book is better. Those who are truly interested should skip this and read Kuper's FOOTBALL AGAINST THE ENEMY, David Winner's BRILLIANT ORANGE, and Alex Bellos's FUTEBOL: SOCCER, THE BRAZILIAN WAY. This is not a bad book, but there's nothing new here and other writers have said it better.
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on May 22, 2013
While Franklin Foer is somewhat riding on the coat-tails of Simon Kuper's "Soccer Against the Enemy" (1994), Foer presents the most readable and accessible non-fiction study of the cross-over between football and politics / social behaviors. Instantly readable, Foer goes around the world and looks at several themes of globalization, and how soccer acts as either a mechanism or manifestation of these phenomenons. There is something here both for casual fans - who might want to know the gritty details behind the El Classico rivarly - to hardcore fans (the rise of Shakthar Donetsk's, Ukraine's soccer federation and the Oligarchs was timely written as both Donetsk and the Oligarch-backed president saw large-scale success after the book's publication).

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.
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on September 4, 2005
This book is a quick and easy read. But it is also a piece of obviously well-researched journalism by someone whose love of the game is apparent. While it doesn't really explore globalism in the political science/economic sense, it is still very interesting to see the impact that soccer has on various parts of the world. What I was amazed at was how much football and government are intertwined in some many countries. As well, it was interesting to see how soccer can be both a force for unity as well as an obvious way to divide and influence, even brainwash, a country's populace.
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.
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on July 5, 2010
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 opposite is true. Globalization has allow players access to clubs the once only read and dreamed about. This book has enough about the game, but the true gem in this book is a series of riveting real-life stories that have much more meaning than just the game itself. I would give the book 5 stars, but I just wished there was a little more soccer and a little less sociology. Nonetheless, a splendid read from beginning to end, very captivating.
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on July 4, 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. But what distinguishes this book is how damned entertaining it is. Foer's chapters---each takes place in a different part of the world, and uses soccer to address a different aspect of globilzation---are suspensful, and often hilarious. The is the perfect book for a long plane flight, or a rainy afternoon, or a day on the beach. I loved it.
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on July 5, 2004
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 that ultimately says more about the world than it does about soccer, addressing things like peoples' tendency to obsess, exhibiting a cult-like fascination with games and sports. Soccer is the vehicle here, and the book is well worth its world-wide ride.
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on March 12, 2015
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 here. I believe that the strongest chapter is the one on the USA - not surprising as Mr Foer is an American. The other chapters are interesting snapshots but are journalistic in tone rather than ethnographic - a pity that...
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on July 4, 2004
This book is one of the most keen, interesting, and breathtaking reports on our world. While, you have to understand and like soccer to really enjoy the book, even for non-soccer fans, it will be an unforgettable experience.
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