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on January 12, 2003
This is an outstanding book about the Brazilian soccer and culture. As Brazilian and top soccer fan, I can say that the book is rich in details and realistic information that few Brazilians know. It is clear that Alex did extensive, diligent, and almost Herculean researches all over this continental size country. The author clearly described the history of Brazilian soccer, our passion for soccer, idols, martyrs, the bad-guys, the culture behind soccer, memorable moments, episodes we are ashamed, the corruption, and justice in this sport. The superior English sense of humor makes this book a very relaxing and entertaining reading.
This book should be translated to Portuguese. It is top reference in any Brazilian soccer fan library. It really worth the reading.
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on August 2, 2002
The author has superbly combined sports journalism with anthropological analysis and written a splendid book. If you like soccer, or want to know why Brazil has won the World Cup five times, this book will explain it. If you want to understand the nuances of Brazilian culture, this book explains it through Soccer.
I especially enjoyed the chapters on Garrincha and the 'Pelada' in Manaus. In addition, the sense of humor that the author has is funny, and provides great insight into Brazilian life.
In short, highly recommended.
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Easily the best book written on soccer ever. If you want to learn the why and wherefores of Brazilian soccer, buy this now! There really are no words to explain how insightful and fun the writing style is and the research here is beyond amazing. You think you know all about Brazilian soccer from watching Ronaldo et al in the World Cup, then think again. It's more than samba style and goals galore. It's Brazil itself in all its glory from sun, sex and sand to completely corrupt political dealings to bizarre religious soccer rituals.
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on May 7, 2002
A heartfelt odyssey through the heartland of the most popular game in the world. Bellos has travelled the world in his search for the soul of Brazilian football. Along the way, it seems like he has talked to everyone who has ever played a part in its development. From former World Cup stars like Socrates and Pele, to the low-level players who ply their trade in the Faroe islands, the author finds time to explore expound upon and eventually explode the myth of 'o jogo bonito'.
When the first footballs arrived in Brazil at the end of the nineteenth century (in the baggage of a British industrialist, naturally) no one could ever have imagined the revolutionary effect they would bring about.
But add football to a huge number of displaced ex-slaves, a culture of music and capoiera, and a desire among employers to encourage physical exercise among their employees, then put it all together in a new country that desperately needs myths of its own, and you soon end up with a national sporting obsession that no other place in the world can match.
As Bellos shows, football has an unshakeable grip on the Brazilian psyche. A grip that culminated in the World Cup triumph of Mexico 1970. (Coincidentally, the first time the global football jamboree was beamed in colour around the world, courtesy of television.)
In the years since then, the myth of Brazilian football has grown while performances on the field have faded. The team that won USA 94 did so without plaudits from their own people, while the current national side has fallen from grace almost completely owing to its controversial allegiance to Nike and the sheer dullness of its football. (Which has become almost European in its one-dimensionality).
Bellos voyages to every corner of this vast and fascinating country to get to the bottom of the beguiling myth. From button football tournaments to autoball, footbull, futevolley and even to a unique tournament/beauty pageant in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, no example of football is left unexamined in his quest for truth.
At the same time, every other aspect of Brazilian cultural life takes its turn under the microscope - candomble spirituality, the architecture of Oscar Niemeyer, the singing of Astrud Gilberto, the unending differences between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo.
The result? A fascinating and beguiling blend of sociology, history and human geography, with a leavening of sport... a book that is as unmissable as one of Pele's fabulous goals.
Naturally, a must-have for anyone who loves football, but equally for anyone who is interested in Brazil, global culture or simply people.
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on June 25, 2002
I don't know if I can do it, but I'm giving these five stars not for the book - I haven't read yet - but for Alex's courage to write about such wonderful subject! I'm brazilian and I'm very happy to know that there's a book about FUTEBOL (thanks again for leting people know about the way we call it) writen from both points of view: extraordinary and - and this is the great point - ordinary people too! You won't be disappointed about this book, I assure you; the idea of mixing futebol's history and its influence in brazilian way of life is incredible! Alex, you'd better try to translate this book to portuguese, it'll sell a lot!
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on July 24, 2002
An absolutely fantastic book. I haven't finished reading the entire book yet but I'm facinated by the stories, details and importance of futebol in the brazilian culture. A great book for anyone interested in understanding why brazilians are so fanatic about soccer. It tells stories of a country so rich in culture and embraced by the magic of the Beautiful Game.
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on January 25, 2003
I expected an exciting, informative book full of interesting anecdotes, but was disappointed. The beginning is simply boring, and the end is a superficial criticism of the current state of corruption in Brazilian football. The only chapter I found entertaining was on the life of Garrincha.
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