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The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy Paperback – Jun 6 2000

4.0 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (June 6 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767905997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767905992
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.1 x 20.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #121,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: Hardcover
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.
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