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The World is a Ball: The Joy, Madness and Meaning of Soccer Hardcover – May 11 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 7 ratings

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Product details

  • Hardcover : 416 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0385664982
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0385664981
  • Item Weight : 544 g
  • Product Dimensions : 14.61 x 3.3 x 21.59 cm
  • Publisher : Doubleday Canada (May 11 2010)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7 ratings

Product description

Quill & Quire

The literature of soccer is extensive. From the lyrical whimsy of Eduardo Galeano’s Soccer in Sun and Shadow to the thorough social history of David Goldblatt’s The Ball Is Round to the ardent fanaticism of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch, the beautiful game has been covered from every angle. In The World Is a Ball, Globe and Mail television (and sometimes soccer) columnist John Doyle steps into the long shadow of those earlier books to offer up his take on the world’s most popular sport and the culture that surrounds it.

The World Is a Ball loosely follows the model of Fever Pitch. It begins with Doyle’s boyhood discovery of soccer in Ireland and continues, after his move to Canada, with his rabid fandom and his travels to cover the world’s biggest tournaments over the last decade. Because Doyle’s main gig is not sports writing – a distinction that he insists on making several times in this book – his reports focus less on the game itself than on the culture of travelling supporters, the efficiency of stadium security, and the nature of big-event media.

Unfortunately for dedicated soccer fans, there isn’t much new in The World Is a Ball. Stipulating that the English are overrated, Dutch fans are legion, the Italian style is boring to watch, and African teams are thrilling underdogs doesn’t break any new ground. However, general readers will enjoy Doyle’s gonzo travelogue. The catalogue of the author’s sleepless nights, language difficulties, and trials as a foreign correspondent makes for compelling reading.

Although Doyle duly reports the match results and heralds the star players at each tournament he attends, by the time the final rounds are played, the match descriptions have been reduced to brief asides, as if the results are less important than the journey that leads to them.

For general readers, this is a good thing. For hardcore fans, however, the game’s drift to the sidelines is a disappointment.


Praise for A Great Feast of Light:
"[This] book crackles with unexpected angles, and is written with a kind of naïve delight. It is the ideal present for anyone given to pontification about the brain-deadening effects of television."
The Sunday Times, (UK)

"A marvelous read, with keen insights and laugh-out-loud moments..."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"I had to stop reading several times because I was laughing hysterically."
— Malachy McCourt

Customer reviews

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Top reviews from Canada

Reviewed in Canada on December 24, 2016
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Reviewed in Canada on November 7, 2014
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Reviewed in Canada on May 28, 2010
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Reviewed in Canada on September 2, 2014
Reviewed in Canada on May 26, 2010
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Top reviews from other countries

T. Luo
4.0 out of 5 stars Diaries of a Traveling Football Journalist
Reviewed in the United States on April 14, 2011
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for any true soccer fan
Reviewed in the United States on February 13, 2012
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