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on October 15, 2002
Young journalist Kuper traveled around the world like a madman to gather the stories of soccer's relationship to politics and culture collected in the book's twenty chapters. The result is a book that will delight anyone with an interest in the world's most popular sport, and will intrigue those interested in the world beyond their boundaries. The book's sole flaw is a certain choppiness, which is partially due to the haphazard nature of his travels, and partly due to Kuper's perhaps overambitious goal of examining how soccer "affects the life of a country" and "how the life of a country affects its football." Concentrating on one or the other would have given the book the focus it lacks-but that doesn't detract from its power.
Kuper uses soccer as a lens to look at the most central issues of the modern world race (South Africa), religion (Ireland and Scotland), culture (Brazil), totalitarianism (Argentina & East Germany), corruption (Ukraine), poverty (Africa), and especially nationalism (Holland, Slovakia, Catalonia, Serbia). Even those who dismiss sport as an "opiate of the masses" and don't care for soccer will be forced to acknowledge the sport's popularity and centrality, especially in less-developed nations. Each chapter is a stand-alone piece, with lengths varying from 5-25 pages or so, perfect for reading on the bus or just before bed. The only other caveat on the book is that it does often seem rather dated, and one keeps wishing it was a bit fresher. Still, this is a great bit of journalism and one every soccer fan should read.
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on October 15, 2002
Young journalist Kuper travelled around the world like a madman to gather the stories of soccer's relationship to politics and culture collected in the book's twenty chapters. The result is a book that will delight anyone with an interest in the world's most popular sport, and will intrigue those interested in the world beyond their boundries. The book's sole flaw is a certain choppiness, which is partially due to the haphazard nature of his travels, and partly due to Kuper's perhaps overambitious goal of examining how soccer "affects the life of a country" and "how the life of a country affects its football." Concentrating on one or the other would have given the book the focus it lacks-but that doesn't detract from its power.
Kuper uses soccer as a lens to look at the most central issues of the modern world race (South Africa), religion (Ireland and Scotland), culture (Brazil), totalitarianism (Argentina & East Germany), corruption (Ukraine), poverty (Africa), and especially nationalism (Holland, Slovakia, Catalonia, Serbia).E ven those who dismiss sport as an "opiate of the massess" and don't care for soccer will be forced to acknowledge the sport's popularity and centrality, especially in less-developed nations. Each chapter is a stand-alone piece, with lengths varrying from 5-25 pages or so, perfect for reading on the bus or just before bed. The only other cavaet on the book is that it does often seem rather dated, and one keeps wishing it was a bit fresher. Still, this is a great bit of journalism and one every soccer fan should read.
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on December 4, 2002
Apart from a very informal writing style and a few errors like calling 1994 Brazilian presidential candidate LULU instead of LULA (Lula btw is the next President of Brazil), this book is just a jewel.
He shows well how culture and society mingle with sport, in this case, soccer. He was spot on repeatedly, such as:
--Holland Vs. Germany rivalry. I've asked Dutchmen about whether those comments regarding the war are true and they said yes.
--Brazil vs. Argentina: he said an American journalist never saw home court advantage such as the rabid fans in the Nunez venue in the Brazil match. True again. When these two play in either country home court advantage blows away anything US sports fans are used to.
And on he goes. If you are a diehard soccer fan as I am, you will love this book!
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on April 23, 2002
This book is written in a style that will appeal to the lazy sunday reader in search for a funny read about football and politics, or the serious academic seeking answers to how a nation's culture manifests itself in the football style it adopts.
Kuper's book is simply outstanding. In it, we find out why the Dutch hate the Germans, the secret behind the success of Dynamo Kyev, and why anyone trying to map a post-war history of English culture must explain Gazza's tears. No serious football aficionado should be without this book.
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on January 20, 2001
Football against the Enemy is a very entertaining book, but you have to wonder about how much of it is true. Peru had witch doctors at the '82 world cup that predicted they would lose to Cameroon? One of the reasons that Peru lost to Argentina in the '78 world cup was they wore red uniforms? Argentinian players cheated on doping tests in the 78 world cup? Does he have any proof of this? Is there anybody out there who belives this?
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