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Feet of the Chameleon [Hardcover]

Ian Hawkey
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Sep 2009
Winner of the Best Football Book of the Year at the British Sports Book Awards in 2010 and shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Books of the Year in 2009, this is the definitive and very timely book on African football. In June 2010, Africa will host football's next World Cup, the most significant global sporting spectacle ever to take place on the continent. South Africa's successful bid was unsurprising - the sport thrives in Africa, and is vitally important, just as African footballers have become increasingly important in football at the highest levels. This fascinating book traces the development of the sport in Africa, finding out what makes African football unique and examining how the game fits into the social and political life of the continent. Drawing on a wide range of sources, and utilising extensive experience, having lived in four football-obsessed places - Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Egypt and South Africa - and having visited a further 24 African states, Ian Hawkey has produced a remarkable book: the definitive account of football and a continent. MORE REVIEWS: 'The best sports book of the year', The Express. 'In tune with the sporting zeitgeist, it rattles along with an entertaining cargo of anecdotes and startlingly diverse cast of characters', The Daily Telegraph. 'Feet of the Chameleon is joyful, and will appeal as much to those interested in the history and geography of Africa as ti will to aficionados of the sport', The Financial Times.

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Feet of the Chameleon + Africa United: How Football Explains Africa
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Portico (7 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906032718
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906032715
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 595,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'***** Written with warmth and understanding, the book for which African football has been crying out for.' --FourFourTwo<br /><br />'The stand-out football book of 2009. Ian Hawkey chose a big continent, and a big subject but rose triumphantly to the task.' --The Independent<br /><br />'Vivid anecdotes and emotive stories trace the journey of African football from something distant and ramshackle to a producer of some of the game's most valuable players. Excellent.' --The Observer

'The stand-out football book of 2009. Ian Hawkey chose a big continent, and a big subject but rose triumphantly to the task.' --The Independent

'Vivid anecdotes and emotive stories trace the journey of African football from something distant and ramshackle to a producer of some of the game's most valuable players. Excellent.' --The Observer

About the Author

Ian Hawkey is an authority on African football - he grew up in Nigeria, and spent his teenage years in Zimbabwe and Egypt. He has been the International Football Correspondent for the Sunday Times since 2001.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Colourful and Chaotic 17 Sep 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book opens with a gem of an anecdote concerning a vice-president of FIFA entering a lift in the Zurich hotel where the 2010 World cup location was to be decided. Legend has it that on entering the lift, he was undecided. On leaving the lift in which he had come across a certain Mr Mandela, his vote was for South Africa. Egypt had sent Omar Sharif, Libya Colonel Gaddafi....

Hawkey certainly knows his African football and this is a big and interesting, if slightly dry read. African football is a colourful, chaotic and often wonderful thing and all is well captured by the author in here. So often caught up in the politics of each country, used by dictators for egotistical purposes there are heart warming and heart breaking stories in here. Hawkey delves deep into the subject, telling us amongst other things, why the clubs employ white European "witch-doctor" coaches. "For us, it's important the boss drives a big car" (Celestine Babayaro, once of Chelsea). A lot of names such as Drogba, Milla and Weah will be familiar, the latter still a possible president of his country, Liberia.

Hawkey uses team nick-names and animal analogies to name his chapters in keeping with the African way, but to be honest this can make navigating the book a little tricky and there is no index which reduces it's effectiveness as a definitive reference. There is a list of the African Cup of Nation winners, World Cup appearances by African teams and Footballer of the Year etc but not enough to make wannabee "Statto's" too excited. The book also switches from topic to topic and team to team quite quickly so you have to concentrate fully to keep a handle on it and this can reduce it's enjoyment

Overall, a good in-depth read for the student of African football, not the casual fan as it is very detailed, but slightly flawed IMO for the reasons above.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic footie find 27 Aug 2009
By Paul Fillery VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What a great book. "Feet of the Chameleon" is a study of the growth of football on the African continent, from it's earliest post-colonial boom to the present day when the best players rapidly migrate to the Premiership, La Liga and the French First Division. Packed with interviews with people at all levels of the sport and written by a journalist who obviously has a real passion for the continent as well as the sport, the book explores several themes - such as why there are so many ex-pat coaches working in Africa, why the best players (Essien, Drogba, Adebayor, etc) are quickly snatched by Europena leagues (you will be surprised at how extensive the scouting system is on the continent), and how the sport has attempted to overcome corruption and fight for a fairer share of the FIFA pie - culminating in the forthcoming South African world cup next year. Fascinating, funny, and beautifully written, and packed with dozens of little sketches and vignettes of famous players, clubs and games - a highly recommanded read for anyone with an interest in football that extends beyond the Premiership.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hugely informative, but densely packed 18 Oct 2009
By Mr. M. E. Merritt VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Okay, I like football. I wouldn't ever say I was the most knowledgeable fan though, I've never been able to reel off stats and can seldom even remember who scored the goals that sunk my team last saturday(I'm a Portsmouth fan, it's a good thing the submarine base is nearby as we're drifting further down with each week). What I do love though is the watching the game evolve and I'm fascinated by the way different cultures approach the game.

So, enough about me, what about the book? Well, it's bursting with information, from chapters about people and events you may not have heard of (being born in 1980 I was never aware of the breakaway Algerian 11 that fled France by night and were funded by a liberation group) to revisiting genuine modern legends like George Weah. The book flows well enough and Hawkey is an engaging guide, clearly passionate about his subject. Unfortunately though, there is so much information to cram into these pages that it often feels like you'll never reach the end of the chapter, let alone the book. The lack of an index (at least in this review copy, though I gather that will change for the on sale edition) is annoying too, requiring you to pore over whole chapters to look back when the book casually mentions a player you might have read about earlier.

All that said though, it's nice to have a football book that is reverential about history and covers a continent whose past is all too often brushed under the carpet, especially in an age where almost every major club has one or two players of African descent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Series of Articles 11 Oct 2009
By R. P. Sedgwick VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Feet of the Chameleon is a book celebrating African Football. This is obviously a massive subject area, so what the book attempts to do is present a series of articles looking at particular events or countries over the last few decades.

I suppose the idea is that by looking at several areas in detail it hopefully gives you a brighter picture in mosaics than the duller image portrayed by a more generic, chronological history of football on the continent would.

The reality is that the book is actually a series of long articles with very little connection between them. Most of the articles are interesting in themselves, but in reality there is little to connect them and you would not lose much by reading them in the wrong "order" I suspect, or missing some out even.

With the next World Cup due to take place in Africa the spotlight will turn on African football like never before, so I suppose this book may have been timed to fulfil a possible need amongst football fans curious about sport on the continent.

It's no surprise then that one of the stories looks at South African football before and after apartheid, surely one of the maddest political systems ever devised. The South Africans were forbidden to enter international sporting events so had to invent their own "international" competitions between their own races. Although blacks, whites and indians were not allowed to play in the same teams they were allowed to compete against one another, so you'd usually end up with a Blacks v Whites final!

Another chapter in the book looks at the arrival of African footballers in the Premiership.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
A very good read. It gives a broad view of African football and the background to some of its best and worst moments.
Published on 14 July 2012 by Peter Stone
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, wish I'd read it prior to South Africa World Cup 2010
I have to admit to being rather ignorant to any African league teams, most of my footballing knowledge is in England with some Europeans Leagues. Read more
Published on 13 May 2011 by P. Sharpe
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking read
Warm, compelling and well researched. The book provides a lot of details on a previously undercovered subject
Published on 15 July 2010 by papaboubadiop
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyble and informative
This is the kind of book to buy the football obsessed man in your life - it's a little different, showing the power of football to reunite groups of people divided by terrible... Read more
Published on 23 Dec 2009 by F. R. Lewis
4.0 out of 5 stars A warm and detailed portrayal of the sport
I'm not usually a football fanatic, but having spent some time in East Africa, was intrigued to see how this analysis of the development of the African game would pan out. Read more
Published on 27 Nov 2009 by Christopher Meadows
4.0 out of 5 stars Africa United - Reality or Dream?
With the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa looming on the horizon Ian Hawkey's timing of this book is impeccable. Read more
Published on 24 Nov 2009 by Graeme Wright
4.0 out of 5 stars Timely book on the history of African football
With the upcoming World Cup in Africa in 2010, this book by Ian Hawkey is a change for football fans to read about the history of football in Africa. Read more
Published on 17 Nov 2009 by D. Evans
4.0 out of 5 stars One for the loo
I could not read this book in oen go, but as somehting that sits on the shelf in our cloakroom, I can see many a studious male taking it down and spending a few minutes reading... Read more
Published on 28 Oct 2009 by Victor Meldrew Mk2
4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to the African game
I have an interest in African football as I love the naivety of their play. Bit kick and rush but it can be so effective against the big guns of World Football. Read more
Published on 14 Oct 2009 by Mr. G. Bridgeman-clarke
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm not a football fan but.........
Had I not spent some time in Cape Town and seen the new stadium building in preparation I would never have read this book. Read more
Published on 14 Oct 2009 by Jane Baker
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