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Soccer Against the Enemy: How the World's Most Popular Sport Starts and Fuels Revolutions and Keeps Dictators in Power Paperback – Apr 27 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; Third Edition edition (April 27 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568586337
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568586335
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.1 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 490 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #318,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Kuper, a reporter for the Financial Times, delves deeply into the ways that soccer has become intertwined with the politics, philosophies and worldview of most of the planet's population. Originally published in the U.K. in 1994; this updated version includes chapters that refer to more recent events such as 9/11 and the U S. foray into Iraq. Sketching relations between Holland and Germany or Croatia and Serbia, Kuper describes a transglobal culture of fans, managers, players and political leaders engaged not only on the pitch but in the arenas of money, power and influence. Toward the end of this often slang-laden book, Kuper makes some useful observations: "the main allure of soccer to terrorists is the game's global reach." Indeed, Kuper quotes Osama bin Laden's biographer Yossef Bodansky stating that the deadly 1998 al-Qaeda attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were the direct result of a foiled plan to disrupt the World Cup competition earlier that year. Arresting stuff, but as a whole the appeal will be limited by the microscopic focus on the particulars of a sport whose professional teams haven't yet found mass appeal in the U.S. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In 1992, Kuper set out to travel the world, looking for case studies to support the thesis in this book's subtitle. He found a former East German who'd been hounded by the Stasi for his love of a West German team, a Slovakian president who made a nationalist statement with troops and truncheons in a soccer stadium, a Ukrainian club that exported nuclear missile parts, and much more. First published in England as Football against the Enemy (1994), this version has been updated (with a new preface, a postscript, and a chapter called "Global Game, Global Jihad") and Americanized (the word soccer substituted for football and occasional American references added). It's an exceedingly interesting book and a good shelf mate for Franklin Foer's How Soccer Explains the World (2004). But while Kuper ably blends travelogue, political research, and social investigation, the material's lack of timeliness limits its effectiveness. And while the examples don't always justify the bold thesis, it's a worthy approach: "Enough has been written about soccer hooligans," he writes. "Other fans are much more dangerous." Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid book, but with a major editing error June 24 2006
By DubyaW - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The work Kuper put into this book is terrific (one can see where Foer got his inspiration, as "How Soccer Explains the World" reads like an attempt to write a new version of this book). However, it seems that the folks at Nation Books (or whomever was in charge of updating this book) has made a blunder with Kuper's words. Since they decided to change the name of the book from "Football Against the Enemy" (the original title, if I recall) to "Soccer Against the Enemy", they also decided to change references inside the book from "football" to "soccer". While this change is no problem in itself, it appears that the editors may have ran Kuper's text through a "find/replace" program, because now EVERY time the word "football" should be mentioned, it has been changed to "soccer", even if it messes up the grammar or meaning of the sentence. For example, when Kuper referres to the position of "an American Football Quarterback" the text reads "an American Soccer Quarterback", which makes no real sense. Or the "corrected" sentence that reads, in part, "they saw or even bought a World Cup bumper sticker that depicted a soccer covered by barbed wire" (page 215), where it should read as either "a football" or even "a soccer ball." This happens in many parts of the book, and detracts from the fantastic work Kuper has done.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The politics of sport May 18 2006
By Patrick W. Hancock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Finally available in the U.S., this is essentially the same book as Football Against the Enemy, which was originally published in England in 1994, with an additional chapter touching on the connection between soccer, terrorism, and the Middle East. According to FourFourTwo magazine, this is the number one football/soccer book ever. The author travels to Croatia, Russia, the Ukraine, Argentina, South Africa, and many other venues famous and obscure, talks to the people that matter, and focuses on telling stories about the beautiful game and the people who play it, own it, use it, and live it, while including great insights on the cultural and political issues that surround this truly international sport. Much better than "How Soccer Explains the World," the people, places, and stories in this book remain as vivid and relevant as ever. As you read how an East Berlin fan of "Western" teams was stalked for years by the East German secret police, you realize that international soccer is much more than a sport. Not just for soccer fans, this is also highly recommended to anyone interested in politics or travel.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but.... Nov. 13 2007
By Ken Schiele - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I read this a few years after reading "How soccer explains the world", so my comparison is based on a shaky memory, with lots of other soccer reading in between....

In some ways, SATE a more interesting read - you can really feel that the author knows soccer much more intimately than Foer (HSETW author) does. And the writing is a little less 'clinical' than the other book, and the extra chapter is nice. But while this book is a series of anecdotes that are entertaining, I thought Foer does a better job making the point implicit in the title.

And the clumsy translation is ridiculous - it's as if the publishers just performed a "search and replace" for "football" and "soccer" - to the point where it's at times confusing: sections about "American soccer" where clearly he meant American Football (=gridiron). I know it's not Shakespeare, but I'd rather read the "real thing".
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book, but with outdated references Sept. 25 2010
By Mal Warwick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you think England's notorious soccer hooligans represent the worst expression of violent behavior in competitive soccer, read Soccer Against the Enemy. As British sports journalist Simon Kuper explains it in this lively book, soccer, like war, is merely politics by other means.

The style a national soccer team brings to the game is also widely thought to be an expression of national character. As Kuper writes, "Soccer is never just soccer. In debating soccer, the Brazilians also debate the kind of country Brazil should be." Presumably, much the same holds true for South Africa, Cameroon, Nigeria, Argentina, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, and most of the other countries whose soccer scene Kuper profiled -- despite the fact that playing styles may change from year to year and manager to manager and that any given country at any particular time may employ a "Brazilian" style while the Brazilians themselves have adopted an entirely different approach.

A handful of dictators surface in the pages of Soccer Against the Enemy, and Kuper treats us to the colorful tales told about their meddling ways. Perhaps one or two of them actually stayed in power for a year or two longer as a result, but their citizens' passion for soccer may just as easily have been a factor in their undoing. It's an exaggeration to claim, as the book's subtitle does so brazenly, that the World's Most Popular Sport Starts and Fuels Revolutions and Keeps Dictators in Power.

Soccer Against the Enemy was originally written in 1992-93, when Kuper traveled the world to investigate the relationship between soccer and politics. Starting out as a 22-year-old fresh out of Oxford, he backpacked his way from one continent to the next, often traveling on buses and second-class trains, staying in cheap hotels and hostels, wearing worn and often torn clothing, and yet somehow managing to secure interviews with many of the soccer world's biggest-name managers, owners, and players.

Kuper successfully illustrates the interrelationship between big-time competitive soccer and the politics of many of the countries where it's taken most seriously. He recognizes, though, that the impact of the sport is limited. "The game is a good way of studying what is going on in repressed societies, but it rarely changes these societies." (So much for that misleading subtitle!)

Kuper clearly wrote the book for readers who were familiar with the leading soccer figures of the day, since Soccer Against the Enemy repeatedly refers, often using nicknames only, to players and managers whose names have long since been forgotten. The Americanized Kindle Edition I read routinely substituted the word "soccer" for the English "football" and included an extra chapter written in 2005 and an afterword along the lines of "Where are they now?" Little else was changed since the early 1990s.

(From Mal Warwick's Blog on Books)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars [...] book review - An excellent glimpse into the world of soccer Nov. 8 2006
By Kevin Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Soccer Against the Enemy is a book which chronicles the impact that society has upon soccer, and soccer upon society in various countries throughout the world. The author, Simon Kuper, is a Dutch born writer who has been around the world of soccer for most of his life and has written for numerous publications in Europe. The problem for Kuper is that he wrote this book towards the beginning of his career, and there are a few sections of this book where this becomes obvious. The fact that Kuper was a 23 year old traveling the world on an extremely limited budget gives him some excuse for this, and makes it a distraction that isn't too noticeable.

Along with these rough parts, the full title; Soccer Against the Enemy: How the World's Most Popular Sport Starts and Fuels Revolutions and Keeps Dictators in Power, is somewhat misleading. The majority of this book is not focused on this specific statement. Rather, the author spends time examining why soccer culture is the way it is in different countries. He spends time within some chapters addressing dictators and revolutions, notably the section on African soccer, and spends time on it in the Argentina chapter, but for many others, he seemingly ignores politics, or at least politics as we think of them in the traditional sense.

With that said, Kuper does very well in his examination of why soccer is played the way it is. His look into African soccer really gives an insight into what life is like there. He shows the absolute dictatorial rule that many people suffer under, and how soccer can become the one true expression of how people feel. This startling insight can catch the reader off guard.

Kuper looks at all sorts of aspects in the world of soccer. His journey spans five continents and over twenty countries. He talks to politicians, generals, coaches, and players to get a full view of everyones perspective on the game. This perspective is added to by the breadth of teams which he involves himself with. From Barcelona, to Dynamo Kiev, to the United States National Team, Kuper goes everywhere and talks to so many players that the reader really gets a full view of what soccer is throughout the world. The only thing that eclipses Kuper's breadth of teams, is the variety of countries he visits, including but not limited to, Russia, Croatia, South Africa, Cameroon, and Argentina. Kuper's goal is to give perspective from throughout the world, and he succeeds in this.

Kuper's segment on the Celtic v. Rangers rivalry is among the best in the book. It really shows the intensity and history behind the rivalry. This section alone defines the passion that soccer fans around the world have. However, the best section of the book was the add on chapter for the American version. This chapter, entitled Global Game, Global Jihad, details the impact that the game of soccer has on developing Middle Eastern countries in conjunction with radical Islam. It isn't a controversial chapter, just a statement of facts that helps details how soccer has turned so political in that part of the world.

When reading this book it is sometimes slightly confusing as to where exactly the author is trying to go. There are times where the big picture gets lost in the details, but once finished with the chapter everything tends to fall into place. I would suggest this book for a soccer fan of every level. It really gives a good look into why things are the way that they are in certain countries. The look at mafia ties in Eastern Europe, religious convictions, geographical and ethnic divisions, and the plight of third world countries to be noticed reveal stories that are usually kept under wraps in the soccer world. Kuper does a great job explaining these stories, and provides great information that can only come from first hand accounts like his.