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How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalizationby Franklin Foer
Synopses & Reviews
Soccer is much more than a game, or even a way of life. It is a perfect window into the cross-currents of today's world, with all its joys and its sorrows. In this remarkably insightful, wide-ranging work of reportage, Franklin Foer takes us on a surprising tour through the world of soccer, shining a spotlight on the clash of civilizations, the international economy, and just about everything in between. How Soccer Explains the World is an utterly original book that makes sense of our troubled times.
"Foer, a New Republic editor, scores a game-winning goal with this analysis of the interchange between soccer and the new global economy. The subtitle is a bit misleading, though: he doesn't really use soccer to develop a theory; instead, he focuses on how examining soccer in different countries allows us to understand how international forces affect politics and life around the globe. The book is full of colorful reporting, strong characters and insightful analysis: In one of the most compelling chapters, Foer shows how a soccer thug in Serbia helped to organize troops who committed atrocities in the Balkan War — by the end of the war, the thug's men, with the acquiescence of Serbian leaders, had killed at least 2,000 Croats and Bosnians. Then he bought his own soccer club and, before he was gunned down in 2000, intimidated other teams into losing. Most of the stories aren't as gruesome, but they're equally fascinating. The crude hatred, racism and anti-Semitism on display in many soccer stadiums is simply amazing, and Foer offers context for them, including how current economic conditions are affecting these manifestations. In Scotland, the management of some teams have kept religious hatreds alive in order to sell tickets and team merchandise. But Foer, a diehard soccer enthusiast, is no anti-globalist. In Iran, for example, he depicts how soccer works as a modernizing force: thousands of women forced police to allow them into a men's-only stadium to celebrate the national team's triumph in an international match. One doesn't have to be a soccer fan to truly appreciate this absorbing book. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] wonderfully conceived treatise....Perfectly timed to coincide with soccer's growing coolness...this excellent book belongs with two other great soccer-outsider inquiries, Bill Buford's Among the Thugs and Joe McGinniss' The Miracle of Castel di Sangro." Booklist
"A novel look at how the world is everywhere becoming more alike, and everywhere more different, as people seek to define themselves through football....[T]he author is unfailingly interesting. Lively and provocative." Kirkus Reviews
"Foer's book is such an eccentric, fascinating exposé of a world most of us know nothing about that his inability to prove his central thesis seems almost irrelevant." Joe Queenan, The New York Times Book Review
"A lively travelogue....
"Foer's ambition to explain the world and the phenomenon of globalization via soccer is helter-skelter, but journalistic parts of the whole can be fascinating." The Oregonian
"[A]bsorbing....Even if Foer's larger argument remains only sporadically convincing, his vividly reported tableau may well cause American sports fans to breathe a sigh of relief about how little, really, our games matter." San Francisco Chronicle
"The title of Franklin Foer's How Soccer Explains the World is unabashed hype and the thesis is so anemic that it can hardly stand up to scrutiny, but the prose is lively and the vignettes are memorable." Boston Globe
This wide-ranging work of reportage is a unique and brilliantly illuminating look at the world's most popular sport as a new metaphor for the pressing issues of our age, from the clash of civilizations to the global economy.
About the Author
Franklin Foer is a staff writer at the New Republic and a frequent contributor to Slate. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Policy, and Spin. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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