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5.0 out of 5 stars Lo miracolo - an american interferes
The single most superb football book I have ever read, with a narrative and plotline that would be a feat of tremendous inmagination if fiction is made more shocking by the fact that these events actually transpired. McGinniss comes across as a typical American - interfering in things he is supposedly a passive witness to. This grates with me, but also spices the book...
Published on Nov. 30 2003 by danjrussell

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3.0 out of 5 stars Book about a miracle reveals story of corruption and sadness
I'm a sucker for sports books so I was eager to read this one. Not being a soccer fan, it was cool to read about the author's passion of soccer. Well Mcginniss is close to insane. The first half of the book is great when you read about the soccer team, the tiny town of Castel di Sangro, and their amazing achievement of playing these great Italian teams. But the story...
Published on March 20 2004 by Retesh D. Shah


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3.0 out of 5 stars Book about a miracle reveals story of corruption and sadness, March 20 2004
By 
Retesh D. Shah "retesh_shah" (Fremont, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy (Paperback)
I'm a sucker for sports books so I was eager to read this one. Not being a soccer fan, it was cool to read about the author's passion of soccer. Well Mcginniss is close to insane. The first half of the book is great when you read about the soccer team, the tiny town of Castel di Sangro, and their amazing achievement of playing these great Italian teams. But the story gives you a dose of reality - deaths, corruption, deceit, disloyalty, stubbornness, etc. The fact is that when I read about cheap and unforgiving the team management and ownership, I was almost prepared for the shocking ending. I'm glad the author put this part in because the truth is there are no fairy tale endings. The weakness in the book is there was no examination of what makes soccer fans so nutty and passionate. He had this perfect place where he could talk to every single fan if he wanted to and find out what is it about this game? Still a recommended read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lo miracolo - an american interferes, Nov. 30 2003
This review is from: The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy (Paperback)
The single most superb football book I have ever read, with a narrative and plotline that would be a feat of tremendous inmagination if fiction is made more shocking by the fact that these events actually transpired. McGinniss comes across as a typical American - interfering in things he is supposedly a passive witness to. This grates with me, but also spices the book. The calciatore are presented in a most sympathetic manner, although i feel are patronised by the author. Buy this book, I have not found a more stunning insight into Il Calcio.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book in spite of the author, Nov. 29 2003
This review is from: The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy (Paperback)
Inside there is a great story of uncelebrated heroes, and villians, behind what might be considered the more mundane situation -- that a soccer team from a small village manages promotion to a B league with the season-long goal of surviving. Along the way, there are many great details of the local players, supporters, life within Serie B soccer, and the fabric of society in a small, working-class Italian hillside town. Set on this smaller stage, the story has it all -- life, death, compassion, greed, character, and corruption -- woven together with many amusing and curious subtexts and insights about a "strainero" trying to fit in to a whole other culture and language.
The story is a great success at real-life drama. The only unfortunate part is that the story slowly unravels how much the author completely blew a real opportunity to fit in more and delve deeper beneath the surface of his adopted society -- opting more and more to impose his own self-righteous mindset and judgement on matters (he was as much a "bulldozer" as he accused the soccer team's manager of being) rather than taking a step back to learn more about the inner workings of another culture. This isn't ethnocentrism or even an example of American arrogance -- the author simply self-destructed at his mission to respect, observe, and ask in order to learn and report.
Even so, the book is a great success in spite of the author's mistakes. He gained access to a remote, close-knit community amidst the throes of of several major events -- also capturing moments of great humor. The author's detailed accounting of his conversations and experiences there makes it a fascinating story in its own right.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Great Story ruined by annoying author, Sept. 9 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy (Paperback)
The actual story that is supposed to be told would have been a great story. However, the arrogance and poor writing style of the author made me cringe every time I turned the page. The fact that the story about the unlikely successes of a team turned into a story about the author's 9 month vacation in Italy was a shame. This must be the first book I've ever read where I literally couldn't stand the author and the only thing that got me through the book was the underlying tale of this incredible soccer team.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good book. Disappointed on how the ending was handled., Sept. 5 2003
This review is from: The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy (Paperback)
I don't want to spoil it for people who may read, so I'll try to beat around the bush.
I would have liked a follow up chapter of "where are they now" and "what happened to the team". If anybody knows, please email luigib@ragingbull.com.
McGinnis leaves the town with a sour taste in his mouth, nonetheless, it would have brought closure to find out what happened to these people. Much like if you were ever dumped by someone, life goes on, but you do wonder "what ever happened to such and such"
Beside that, good reading, lots of great stories about Italian life, culture, geography, history. Good book for soccer fans, great book for a study in small town life and big city problems.
I was disappointed in lack of pictures as well. Not even a team shot. I guess with the ending and the accusations, I understand why, but still disappointed.
The writer is very opinionated and inserts himself into the story more often than not. This is not a fly on the wall recount.
Recommendation: worth a read, but prepare yourself for some very slanted ideas and some self promotion. It seems like there was even a better story out there, but it just wasn't captured all the way... maybe 80%
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!!!, July 13 2003
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This review is from: The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy (Paperback)
What a terrific book! Great story (greed, corruption, comradeship, triumph, tragedy, comedy), and wonderful insights into both professional soccer and the Italian mindset. I'm a big soccer fan, but I think anyone would love this book, soccer fan or not. Thanks, Mr. McGinniss, for taking on such a seemingly unpromising subject and producing such a wonderful story!
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1.0 out of 5 stars American Arrogance, June 17 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy (Paperback)
Although the book purports to speak to a year in the life of an Italian football team, it rather highlights typical American arrogance. This book is more telling about the author than anything else. As an author covering the team he thrusts himself as a knoweldgable member of the football community 9although clearly a novice). His arrogance in the manner of interacting with the team, as described in the book, is insulting. I would not recommend this book to anyone, regardless of their interest in football, or Joe McGinnis.
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1.0 out of 5 stars story overwhelmed by presence of unappealing author, June 5 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy (Paperback)
This was one of the few books that I bought on a whim. I saw it prominently displayed on a shelf at my local bookstore and immediately recognized the potential for a great story. As a lifelong fan of the game as well as Italian culture (I'm an American but lived off of the Ligurian coast for three years as a child), I couldn't wait to read a book that I thought would strengthen these passions. Instead, what I got was the classic story of an Ugly American. McGinniss consistently revelled in his ignorance of the foreign behaviors that he stumbled upon, conveying a clear disrespect for the people in this story. I'm all for writers taking on foreign cultures and relating their unique aspects to readers. But such endeavers require subtlety and the ability to observe without interfering--qualities that McGinniss does not possess. For me, this subtext completely overwhelmed what could have been a very good story. I rarely quit reading a book, feeling that I need to be open to perspectives that I am not completely attuned to. However, McGinniss gave me one of those very rare opportunites to permanently drop an unfinished book, guilt free. I can't say I'm grateful.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The tragedy of Castel di Sangro, April 9 2003
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It is easy to compare two recent books about Italian football written by foreigners. Both follow a full 38-match season of teams that are, at times, surprising and mediocre, sometimes simultaneously. Avoiding relegation to a lower division is the major impetus for both teams, not a national championship. One is coming off a miracle, the other hoping for and heading for one. And there are significant differences. Unlike Tim Parks in ´¿A season with Verona,´¿ McGinniss has direct access to the players and coach, although only brief, menacing contact with the owner. Parks acted as a fan, lived and died with the team while he stayed with his family, became very familiar with other fans, and lived a normal home life between matches. McGinniss lived alone in a cold apartment, away from his family in America; he has too much time on his hands. Parks had been a lifelong fan from Britain. McGinniss came to the game much later in life. And it shows.
The ´¿miracle´¿ of Castel di Sangro, a town of 5,000 hearty souls high in the mountains east of Rome, occurs before McGinniss arrives. What transpires while he is there might be better described as tragedy, without farce. There is death, drama, drugs and sex. Travel to play matches offers some glimpses of Italian life and land, but very little. He is more than a little pleased with his self-evaluation of the Castel di Sangro players, and not shy about saying so. McGinniss irritatingly inserts himself into disputes and advises the coach on players and tactics. He tries to play agent for a promising goalkeeper, but can´¿t convince the American coach to take him. He can identify a rotten, corrupt referee like an expert. He begins to read his own worshipful (if invented) clippings from the Italian press, who marvel at the very idea of an American writer spending a year with such a minor league team. He even seems to flirt, at the end, with the idea of earning a coach´¿s license himself (Italian coaches need to be licensed). Yet he can´¿t see the inevitable betrayal that closes the season.
McGinniss´¿Italian improves with time, but it is not clear that his judgment or insight does. McGinniss´¿ intimacy with the players seems genuine yet there are times when the players seem to mock him or to treat him with the disbelief his assertions sometimes deserve. There is more a series of events, matches than a real story here.
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4.0 out of 5 stars italian balls, March 26 2003
By 
forza roma (San Francisco, California United States) - See all my reviews
great and easy read...went beyond football. It shed light on several historical facts as well as politics.
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