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How to Watch a Bullfight [Hardcover]

Tristan Wood
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
RRP: £20.00
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Book Description

15 Mar 2011
This is the golden age of bullfighting. In the last 60 years, the number of bullfights (corridas) held in Spain has increased almost ninefold, peaking in 2007. Great bullfighting names have the status of football stars, with heroes including Cayetano, José Tomás, Enrique Ponce and Morante de la Puebla, their styles ranging from the flamboyant and breath-takingly reckless to calm domination and technical mastery. Many English-speaking tourists on holiday witness this most ancient and colourful of spectacles, but few understand what is really going on. This illustrated guide acknowledges that attending a bullfight is controversial and will not appeal to everyone. It throws light on the bullfighter s art and outlines the structure of the corrida, the key players and the various moves and stages. A fascinating and complex event is defined step-by-step in layman's terms. The music, the excitement and reactions of the crowd and the drama are all put into context and one of the most ancient and unusual of modern spectacles becomes clear. This book is designed to give readers of whatever persuasion an understanding of bullfighting, so that they can either increase their pleasure in watching a corrida in Spain, France or South America, or simply learn what is involved in this most complex, moving and controversial of spectacles.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Merlin Unwin Books; First edition (15 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190612227X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906122270
  • Product Dimensions: 24.9 x 19.6 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 198,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


I strongly recommend a new book called 'How to Watch a Bullfight' by Tristan Wood (Merlin Unwin Books). It is packed with information and photographs about how bullfighting is actually conducted, including dos and don'ts of the kill. I had not realised until I read it that in recent years the spectacle has become, like the British criminal justice system, more merciful. It has not obviously abolished capital punishment, but in 1992 the indulto (reprieve) entered Spain's taurine regulations for the first time. If either the matador or a majority of the spectators thinks the bull is so splendid that it should be spared as a 'seed' bull; to protect the casta (spirit) of its breed, then this may be done. Mr Wood's overall argument for the corrida, now in its last season in Catalonia because of an access of anti-Spanish zeal, is that three million cattle are slaughtered in Britain every year, ingloriously and covertly, whereas the Spanish bull can go to its death proudly and publicly, with 'the opportunity to have its name written into taurine history'. --Charles Moore, The Spectator

About the Author

Tristan Wood lives in London, works as an editor, and has been mesmerised by bullfighting since the age of nine. He attends bullfights all over the world.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, READ FURTHER 16 April 2011
There is nothing in this book for readers who have already made up their minds that they don't like bullfighting; but for those with an open mind, who know little or nothing and want to learn more, this is the way to go. Even aficionados who think they know a bit and want to expand their knowledge will find much to entertain and inform them here. Tristan Wood has achieved the almost impossible by laying out in simple terms what is a very complex subject, in language that we can all understand, illustrated with rich, vivid colour photographs which show that there is more to this business than meets the eye.

Wood talks us through the traditional structure of the corrida, tells us what to look out for, and why. He points out how to recognize the good and bad qualities of the men (and sometimes women), the bulls, and the horses. They all play their parts in what must be the world's most misunderstood public spectacle. There may be remaining questions about bullfighting which are not covered in this book, but I can't think of any.

The jargon of funny Spanish words is explained in a comprehensive glossary, as well as the objectives of the matador and other toreros at all stages of the proceedings. For those whose interest lies more in the bulls than the men, there is a section which deals with the different bloodlines of the toro bravo, their physical characteristics, and the behaviour to be expected from them when seen in the ring. There are even answers to the nuts-and-bolts stuff about what's on where, how to get tickets (not always easy, apparently), and where best to sit in a circular arena where all seats look alike.

If you've read this far, the chances are that you are probably interested in finding out more, and this is the place to do it. This expertly presented book is just for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just What I Have Wanted 26 April 2011
By pens
As a comparative newcomer to the bullring I have been very frustrated in trying to find a book to explain clearly what to look for and what is going on. The experts I have sat with have either been too absorbed with what they are watching or dont know as much as they pretend. Now, thanks to Mr Wood and his publishers, my problems are over and both my enjoyment and my understanding of the corrida will take a big step up. I cant wait for my next visit to Spain.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Revelation 22 April 2011
By David P
This,quite simply,is a great book which fills a gap in the market. It is clearly written with superb photos, explaining the relevance of the corrida to today's world, the role of all the participants, what they do and why, what to look for, how to get tickets, where to go and more. For the novice aficionado as well as the experienced one this is a must have book. Hopefully it will also open this seemingly simple, but in fact complex, world to many newcomers. Both the author and the publishers have done a brillant job.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward, precise and practical 16 April 2011
It's amazing given bullfighting's popularity that no one has attempted this type of book before. I suspect the reason is that it is a complicated subject and authors are often tempted to use history to explain its roots and consequently get bogged down in irrelevant detail. Wood achieves something rare - he simplifies a complicated subject and avoids all superfluous detail. The result is a real guide that will help the inquisitive, the first time spectator and the experienced afficionado. There are few books written in English on the subject and they are usually autobiographies or deeply dull technical books written for insomniacs.

I have already recommended this book to a number of friends who have previously expressed an interest in the subject and they have loved it.

Doubtless in a short time there will be negative comments on this site about the subject. However, if they have read the book and then come to an informed decision the book will have achieved its purpose.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important book 15 April 2011
A lot has been written about bullfighting, but not very much in English - and this seems to me the most sensible and useful of the lot. This guide takes the reader step by step through all stages of the bullfight, explaining what is going on in the arena and giving tips on what to look out for, the various passes the matador makes and how to judge a good bull and a good matador, as well as giving a real sense of the atmosphere. It also offers information that will help tourists or first-time attendees, such as where to get tickets and what various crowd responses mean. Unusually, it includes bullet points - which makes it very easy to understand - and plenty of photos. This guide manages to be hugely informative without being over-didactic or complicated. Highly recommended.
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