Eight World Cups: My Journey through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer Hardcover – May 13 2014
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- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0805098488
- Item Weight : 499 g
- ISBN-13 : 978-0805098488
- Dimensions : 16.23 x 2.82 x 24.13 cm
- Publisher : Times Books; American First edition (May 13 2014)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,875,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
“George Vecsey … writes eloquently and passionately about the sport on a journey from Spain in 1982 to South Africa in 2010.” ―The New York Times
“Full of humor and insight about sport and culture… Vecsey had me on page 202 of his new book when he characterized Cristiano Ronaldo as ‘the most annoying great player in captivity.' Nah, he had me well before that… The pomp, glory, and great entertainment all get their due in Eight World Cups.” ―The Boston Globe
“No one has ever described sports better than Vecsey and he describes soccer...better than any other sport. Every run to the goal, every great defensive stop, is discussed in this book by details that will remind readers of such descriptive writers as Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, and John Updike… You don't find writing like this these days in novels and poetry, much less sportswriting. Vecsey's book is a masterpiece.” ―Florida Times-Union
“Vecsey proves himself a comfortable Cup companion…A few days reading Vecsey and life on the pitch becomes a beautiful (and understandable) game.” ―The Christian Science Monitor
“For anyone with even the most pedestrian knowledge of soccer, [Eight World Cups] is an entertaining read, a terrific primer on the sport's modern history, and a profound take on America's own soccer renaissance occurring right now.” ―Men's Fitness
“A witty, inviting companion/introduction to the joys of soccer on the world stage…Throughout, Vecsey's narrative is full of fun and gentle wisdom. There are few things greater than great sports writing, as Vecsey proves in these fine pages.” ―The Daily Herald (Chicago)
“George Vecsey's stories on the eight World Cups that he has covered is perhaps the best book written on the subject by an American author. Vecsey's stories of the various actors in the game, from the players on the field to the faceless bureaucrats of FIFA, comes with a certain freshness.” ―Soccerly
“I can't think of a better gateway to the World Cup for non-fans, as well as for obsessives, than George Vecsey's Eight World Cups.… Vecsey's always had just the right touch when it comes to writing about anything, soccer in particular, and this is a treat for all.” ―Extracurriculars
“Action-packed reportage…one of soccer's earliest advocates in this country, Vecsey writes with expertise and flair about the otherworldly plays, volatile personalities and sticky politics that make the game so fascinating.… Vecsey's delight in soccer culture is palpable, and he makes his audience--even the reader who isn't smitten with the sport--care, too.” ―BookPage
“Five Stars … Vescey has written a book that provides detailed World Cup history with an American flavor. It will make a great addition to your sports library and the perfect reference for the upcoming World Cup … Brilliant.” ―The Soccer Translator
“George Vecsey gets it … [He] provides a freshness that many other titles are lacking, something that both casual and hardcore fans would enjoy … Consumers will certainly have a lot to choose from this summer when it comes to titles related to the World Cup, but Eight World Cups …has to be #1 on everyone's list. Everyone will get something out of this one.” ―The International Soccer Network
“An exceedingly enjoyable blend of travelogue, sports writing, and social analysis…with infectious enthusiasm that makes clear the game's appeal…. Eight World Cups makes a wonderful background to the World Cup kicking off this June in Brazil.” ―Booklist
“New York Times columnist Vecsey … was among the earliest major sports journalists in the United States to embrace wholeheartedly the world's most beloved game…. Timed to appear before the 2014 tournament in Brazil, the book provides a readable personal story and a history of America's coming-of-age on the pitch.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Of the many recent excellent books on soccer, Vecsey's work stands out.” ―Library Journal
“Spectators at an event as extraordinary as the World Cup deserve a tour guide equal to the task. During his remarkable career as a New York Times sportswriter and columnist, George Vecsey has opened his heart and mind to eight of these quadrennial spectacles, and here he takes us with him on his journey, enhancing our own every step of the way.” ―Joe McGinniss, author of The Miracle of Castel di Sangro
“Long before half the kids in the U.S. were decked out in Lionel Messi and Manchester United jerseys, one of our most gifted sportswriters was writing intelligently about soccer. In Eight World Cups, George Vecsey gives us much more than the story of one man's journey from novice to aficionado. This is also an elegant, absorbing primer on the world's game. No one but Vecsey could have given us so much insight, so much humor, such a smart take on soccer and the World Cup.” ―Jeremy Schaap, author of Cinderella Man and Triumph
“In Eight World Cups, George Vecsey writes with his usual elegance, humanity, and insight. As ever, his view goes beyond the field, and in this case well beyond our shores.” ―Bob Costas, NBC Sports
“Baseball is America's game but soccer is the world's game, and no American writer knows more about the world's game than George Vecsey. All of that knowledge is reflected in his terrific and timely book, which is a wonderful guide to a game whose inscrutability I have only now come to appreciate.” ―Tom Werner, chairman, Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC
“What fun to weave through these World Cups as the book reads part diary, part travel guide, part voyeuristic glimpse into how the best teams and players operate at the highest level. The cultural musings, mixed with a love of the game that is endearingly pure, makes me want to travel to the next eight World Cups right alongside George Vecsey.” ―Julie Foudy, co-captain, 1999 Women's World Cup champions
“With the eye of a reporter and the soul of a fan, George Vecsey has perfectly captured the magic and allure of the World Cup. Eight of them, in fact. This sporting event captivates and unites the globe as no other, and George's personal journal – from the stadiums and stars, to the many people encountered on his global journeys – is a remarkable history by a gifted writer.” ―Bob Ley, ESPN
About the Author
Top reviews from other countries
Vescey, for several decades a poetic pontificator in his New York Times sports columns, has always been about the language, with a social conscience to boot, a kind of Pablo Neruda of athletics. Vecsey has championed women in sports, minorities in sports, and has not hesitated to question the authorities in charge of baseball, football, tennis, and in the case of soccer, called football in most of the world, Sepp Blatter, the autocratic strong man of the Federation Internationale de Football Association, commonly known as FIFA.
Vecsey devotes several chapters to the success of the American women's team and its super star, Mia Hamm.
No one has ever described sports better than Vecsey and he describes soccer, which he played in high school in Queens, New York, better than any other sport. Every run to the goal, every great defensive stop, is discussed in this book by details that will remind readers of such descriptive writers as Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, and John Updike.
In seeing his first World Cup in 1982, Vecsey exclaimed, "This was some entirely new sport, a blend of ballet and geometry, quick triangles appearing and disappearing, instant decisions by athletes on the move, so graceful and independent, performing intricate maneuvers with a round ball, on the fringes of their feet."
The artistry of the great scorers of the game, including Pele, Giorgio Chinaglia, Roberto Baggio, Diego Armando Maradona, receives special attention from Vecsey, whether with pathos, drama or, especially melodrama, and these athletes are as entertaining as protagonists in major novels.
Indeed, while Vecsey understandably dedicated the book to his wife Marianne, who attended many World Cups with him, he might have dedicated it to Maradona, the rougish super star of soccer who provided him with such great material. Vecsey's account of his telephone conversation with Maradona in Naples, in which Maradona went back and forth in several languages pretending he was not Maradona, is one of the most hilarious stories I have ever read.
Vecsey's affection for the Italian team, known as the "Azzurri," for their blue uniforms, is combined with his bemused description of their melodramatic falls and flops to flim flam the referees into giving them decisive penalty kicks, along with his reporting on their various brushes with the law and gambling.
Vecsey's wife Marriane once said "Nobody else does what George does in his writing," meaning the skill in which he tells sports stories and the eloquent language he used to tell them.
Where else are you going to find description like this from the 1986 World Cup in Mexico? "Maradona kept running and leaped toward the ball, somehow getting higher than Shilton. He elevated his left fist above his head, as if imitating the Statue of Liberty holding a torch. I could see the fist raised, could see the ball bounce into the goal, could see Maradona wheel away, jubilantly, trying to sell the goal to the official and the crowd. The broadcaster quickly said it looked like a handball. The Argentines flocked after Maradona to celebrate. And the referee went for it."
"Maradona had heard his personalized will of God and made the instant calibration that it was worth a try- a red card for cheating versus a goal during a scoreless draw.
"Play resumed, with the English probably still in shock from the blatant cheating and referee error. Then Maradona performed one of the greatest scoring romps ever seen in his sport. He received the ball near midfield, with Hodge and Peter Beardsley at his flanks.
"Maradona wriggled onward, flicking the ball back and forth between his feet, as the defenders planted their own feet in the turf. He outraced Peter Reid, left Gary Stevens behind, and cut inside, leaving Terry Butcher with his back to Maradona, his right leg kicking backward in a vain attempt to slow Maradona down. Just outside the box, Fenwick seemed close enough to jostle Maradona, but, playing with a yellow card, Fenwick avoided contact, or maybe Maradona avoided him.
"Now it was between Maradona and Shilton. Shilton knew how to cut off angles, but he had never done it against Diego Maradona at the absolute peak of his career. Maradona shifted his weight, moved the ball from right foot to left foot, and slipped it past Shilton, so softly, so gently.
"Given Maradona's closeness with his creator, he no doubt had a sense of redemption. He had sinned and then sought absolution with the most developed part of his being--that is to say, his feet."
You don't find description like this these days in novels and poetry, much less in sports writing. Vecsey's book is a masterpiece, the culmination of a lifetime of work in the art of writing.
[Hansen Alexander's most recent book is "An Introduction to the Laws of the United States in the 21rst Century," an Amazon e-book exclusive.]
It's written in a very condescending manner — as if written for a simpleton. Worse, each chapter is a dry (very dry in parts) recounting of World Cup results over the years, with precious little insight and little to no flavour of what the games were really like, or what even happened in those games. A lot of "what," "when" and "where," but very little "how," let alone "why." Vecsey's writing style is what might charitably be described as "basic." For a much better stylist, turn to Vecsey's colleague with the International NY Times (formerly Int. Herald Tribune), Rob Hughes. If you're at all tempted to read this book, sight unseen, you may be better off with Anon's I Am the Secret Footballer (on both Kindle and in paperback form). There's not much on the World Cup in that book, but there is keener insight into what it takes to play "the Beautiful Game" at a professional level. Considering Vecsey's vaunted reputation as a sports columnist, this book is practically a disgrace. Just one man's opinion, of course, but trust me: If you give it a miss, you're not missing much. In hindsight, I'm furious that I put in the effort.
However he also added to other interesting tid-bits including how he landed places to stay at the various venues as well as his relationships with other writers covering the various Cups.
I had written him on one occasion encouraging him to compile an expose on FIFA. He replied that it would be a tough job and probably demand a huge time commitment.
Fortunately he wrote this book and did a commendable job of pulling together all of FIFA's misdeeds as part of this book.
For anyone who loves World Cup soccer and its history Vecsey's book is a "must read."
In addition to dissecting many world cups, George exposes the reader to the trials and travels that is part of covering a World Cup.
I played soccer for ten years starting at fourteen in 1948 and have been a fan ever since. There are many good books about the game of soccer, but none better than Eight World Cups. It is a quick read that keeps bringing you back.
I never thought a sports book would be a page turner.