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La Roja: A Journey Through Spanish Football Hardcover – 10 May 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 394 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (10 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857206524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857206527
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3.1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 362,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

And so the final of Europe's biggest club competition will proceed without Europe's two best teams, or a new eruption of the bitter rivalry carefully chronicled by Jimmy Burns in his vivid survey of Spanish football, La Roja. --Financial Times

Those who like to sneer that the world's most popular sport is a grossly exaggerated and often meaningless metaphor for the battle of real life should get hold of this splendid book. At the very least, it points out that if football is essentially a simple game, only relentless hard work, superior imagination and considerable passion can make it so. However, in the extraordinary rise of Spain to the number-one football nation there have been, as Jimmy Burns outlines with great skill, quite a number of other factors. --James Lawton, Independent

About the Author

Jimmy Burns is an award-winning journalist and author of seven other books. He was born in Madrid in 1953. He has reported for the Financial Times, London Observer, BBC and the Economist, and was the FT correspondent in South America in the early 80s and his book on Argentina and the Falklands War, The Land that lost its Heroes, won the 1988 Somerset Maugham Award for non-fiction. When not in Spain, or travelling elsewhere, he lives in London.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Luke S. Hyams on 15 May 2012
Format: Hardcover
Really enjoyed Jimmy Burns' Barca book so I was keen to read La Roja as well. Similar to Barca the author is deft at knowing when to provide us with his own insights - and knowing when to let the fans, managers and players speak. The Spanish have the English to thank originally for giving them the game, but once embedded in the culture the History of Spanish Football has a story uniquely tied to its own politics and spirit. La Roja is a story involving a civil war and proud and fractious regions (whether it be the Basque Country or Catalonia) - but the ending hints at the harmony that Spain has achieved through no small help from football.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Andy on 15 May 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This book provides a wonderful blend of politics, history and sports journalism. Jimmy Burns weights his material well and has a writing style superior to most other football journalists. La Roja is particularly strong on Real Madrid and Barcelona, which is not to mean that the author ignores other teams. I enjoyed the final third of the book most as Burns gives us a behind the scenes look at how both Barcelona and Spain have triumphed in recent years. One can't help but be touched by Burns' admiration and affection for the likes of Pep Guardiola and Del Bosque.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chris Yates on 20 May 2012
Format: Hardcover
Jimmy Burns writes with authority and
enthusiasm. The book starts with the origins of Spanish Football, inherited from the English, but it is not until the author interviews living witnesses to the players and politics of the game that La Roja really hits its stride. The book is a subtle guide to the History of Spain in the 20th century, as well as its football.
As well as being a keen observer of why Spain have recently been successful, the book is also particularly strong on the eras of Cruyff (as player and manager) and Raul. Muy terrific.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Siciliano on 12 July 2012
Format: Hardcover
Delving, as it does, into Spain, "La Roja," has as much to do with politics as with that country's world champion national soccer team.

Jimmy Burns has written an amenable yet substantive story about how Spain went from a bullfighting nation to kings of international football.

He goes way back to the 1880s and an English-owned mine in Huelva where the first games of football were played exclusively by Brits. The journalistic knitting continues as Basque teams assert primacy and then Argentines come to enliven the game with a quick passing style.

"La Roja" is about the places where such trends were born and the people who sowed them on Spanish soil.

Burns's chronicling of Barcelona F.C's role as an expression of Catalan culture and its rivalry with Real Madrid is deftly woven into discussion of the defeated Republic, the Monarchy, the Falange and, poignantly, the names of soccer players killed during the Spanish Civil War.

Noteworthy, too, is Burns's analysis of the Franco dictatorship's aggressive engagement with football as a tool to soothe tensions on the Iberian peninsula, as a propaganda weapon, and as diplomatic entry to worlds otherwise closed to the regime.

Burns suggests Franco made the Spanish national team a projection of homegrown fascism. A group possessing the "racial" qualities of true and pure Spaniards, and which brought to the playing field a particular "Spanish Fury." A sobriquet that stuck.

Like many people in Spain who had little time for the national selection over the years, Burns believes that the "The Spanish Fury" amounted to a whole lot of nothing, and that success in world-class tournaments would be elusive until a more modern and technical conception of Spanish soccer could be born.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By godzilla78 VINE VOICE on 25 May 2012
Format: Hardcover
Its a book I found myself flying through in no time at all. A stunning read which looks at how the football of Spain has evolved over the years and how history and politics have played a huge part in the process. This is a wonderful story of Spanish football, from its anglo saxon roots, to the current world and european champions. Its been a long journey which has been shaped by the country's political history. Don't get me wrong as this is a football book but Jimmy Burns does a terrific job in telling a story beyond that goes beyond sport and into the heart of Spain's fractious past.

Another bright spot is that the big two (Real and Barca) only really feature the the second half of the book. Whilst there are some great books about these two giants, its refreshing to see the author focus on other teams such as Bilbao and Racing. Jimmy Burns has written fantastic books of Barca and Maradonna in the past and this is worthy to be along side them. Just a shame it wasn't longer!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wilson Fisk on 21 May 2012
Format: Hardcover
I've enjoyed some of Jimmy's other books but "La Roja" has to be my favourite. If you love football, Spain and Spanish history this is the book for you. The author takes us on a journey around Spain and its diverse regions and explores how British mining speculators, engineers and servicemen brought the game to Spain. From Bilbao to Seville and back north to Barcelona via Madrid the main characters of bygone ages through to the present day are discussed. How the game developed with help from the Dutch and South Americans into what we are now witnessing with the current Spanish selection....a great read. Incidentally I finished the last few pages, very aptly, flying over the Pyrenees on my way to Alicante.
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