The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy Paperback – Jun 6 2000
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We already knew Joe McGinniss could chill our blood (Fatal Vision) and arouse both our pity and distaste for the Kennedys (The Last Brother), but who knew he could be so funny? (Well, maybe readers who remember The Selling of the President back in 1968.) Even those who have no interest in soccer--the majority of Americans, he ruefully admits--will relish the author's vivid account of a team from Castel di Sangro, a tiny town in Italy's poorest region, that against all expectations made it to the national competition. Whether he's chronicling his ordeal at possibly the least-inviting hotel in Italy (the heat doesn't come on until October, no matter the temperature; he is assigned to a room up four flights of stairs though there are no other guests), or sketching a colorful cast of characters that includes the team's sinister owner and an utterly unflappable translator, McGinniss prompts roars of laughter as he reveals an Italy tourists never see. He also saddens readers with a shocking final scene in which he confronts the nation's casual corruption, which taints men he's come to respect and even love. Although not a conventional memoir, this stirring book reveals as much about the author's passionate character as about the nation and the players who win his heart, then break it. --Wendy Smith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
With the growing popularity of soccer in North America, McGinniss, author of numerous best-selling works of narrative nonfiction (Blind Faith, LJ 1/89), has written the rags-to-riches story of how an Italian soccer team, Castel di Sangro from the Abruzzi region, rose through the ranks from the very bottom (Terza Categoria) to the Serie BAa remarkable feat. There are eight steps to reach the world's best league, the Serie A. The Italian press was motivated by the achievement of Castel di Sangro, referring to the club as the "Lilliputi." More than a mere history of the team's improbable season, this book provides the reader with insights into the passionate world of Italian soccer. The journey documents the trials and tribulations surrounding a professional sports team. Certainly a good read for soccer fans as well as for other sports enthusiasts; recommended for purchase where demand warrants.
-ALarry Robert Little, Penticton P.L., BC
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
I would have liked a follow up chapter of "where are they now" and "what happened to the team". If anybody knows, please email email@example.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%
The ï¿½miracleï¿½ 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 canï¿½t convince the American coach to take him. He can identify a rotten, corrupt referee like an expert.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Highly entertaining and a good read, even for a non soccer fan, but particularly if you are a fan.Published 24 months ago by Serigi
Reviewer: tom cieszinski from United States
The above quote is found on page 345 of this book and a renowned author in his own right, of various books, including one on... Read more
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. Read morePublished on March 20 2004 by Retesh D. Shah
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... Read morePublished on Nov. 30 2003
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... Read morePublished on Sept. 9 2003
What a terrific book! Great story (greed, corruption, comradeship, triumph, tragedy, comedy), and wonderful insights into both professional soccer and the Italian mindset. Read morePublished on July 13 2003 by Moochie
Although the book purports to speak to a year in the life of an Italian football team, it rather highlights typical American arrogance. Read morePublished on June 16 2003
great and easy read...went beyond football. It shed light on several historical facts as well as politics.Published on March 26 2003 by forza roma