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The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football [Paperback]

David Goldblatt
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Price: 13.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

30 Aug 2007
A definitive history of global football.

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The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football + Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life - Updated Edition
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Product details

  • Paperback: 992 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (30 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141015829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141015828
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 33,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

David Goldblatt was born in 1965 and inherited, for his sins, Tottenham Hotspurs from his father. His books include Social Theory and the Environment, Global Transformations and the World Football Yearbook. He currently lives in Bristol, the Bermuda triangle of football prowess, where he spreads his affections amongst Spurs, Bristol Rovers and Bristol City.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BIGGER THAN JESUS 3 Feb 2009
'The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football' by David Goldblatt is an attempt to tell the story of fooball - from it's origins in the newly burgeoning industrialised and urbanised United Kingdom in the 19th century 'spread through both the formal empire and the immense informal empire of Britain's economic and cultural connections' to the truly global spectacle it is today - but also to place the game in it's social, cultural, economic and political contexts also.

Goldblatt's book does not just tell you the history of the game - the book is replete with stories of it's great games, players and managers - but also the historical currents that have spurred and shaped the game. It is here that Goldblatt excells, like Simon Kuper and David Winner before him, he seems to understand the way football (on the field and off) both reflects and expresses deeper insights into the cultures into which the game is taken into it's heart. The sections in particular concerning Latin America are indicative of this. I feel I have learned more about Latin America from reading this book than any number of books and documentaries previously.

Goldblatt argues in the book that the game is not taken seriously by the world's academic elites despite it's stake to the claim that it is football and not Christianity or McDonald's say for the sake of example that is currently the most globally universal cultural practice, this is a book that must go some way to remedy that disjunction. 'The Ball is Round' whilst over 900 pages is a hugely entertaining as well as informative read that can be read from cover to cover or dipped into, read by the football fanatic or merely by anyone interested in history.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant 15 Jun 2007
By allan
i take issue with the previous reader who says mr goldblatt writes poorly. he is no tolstoy but he has a crisp and enjoyable style in keeping with the overall subject matter. this is a great value book. what a surprise from a man who from his photograph inside the cover looks like an old heavy metal rock guitarist! this would be a great birthday present as it can be kept and dipped into.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
By ben
In this superb, breathtaking and wonderful tour de force of a book, David Goldblatte describes the rise of soccer, from a chaotic, homosexual-tinged fest or folk ritual to its present incarnation as a macho global-entertainment industry. It's the story of players and managers, fans and owners, clubs and national teams; a chronicle of who won and who lost. So what you might say,we know all this. We do, but not told as Mr Goldblatt does. I take my hat off to him. He is no writer and instead assembles his facts, like a well trained archer. It's a book about money and power and the allure of men in shorts. And, above all, how all these men interact. It is a history which attempts to locate where the line between the realm of glorious lust and the realm of power has been crossed, that celebrates the love of the game and of players for each other. Shame on all those who condemn this. Thus the book describes and accounts for the careers of Pele and Maradona, Puskas and George Best; the histories of the Wunderteam and the incomparable Hungarians, the anti-futbol of Estudiantes de la Plata and the futbol arte of Brazil 1970. It explores the cultural meanings and political uses of football in Peron's Argentina, Adenauer's West Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union and Mussolini's Italy. It ranges from the precolonial politics of African football and its anti-gay platform - which Mr Goldblatt deplores - to the manufacturing history of the football boot; from the history of stadium architecture to the architecture of power in global football's leading institutions. It has everything. Buy it and be thankful. I am so glad I got hold of an early copy.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars miraculous and magnificent 12 Sep 2006
I procured this book in advance of its official publication by begging my bookshop. i am so glad i did. it is fantastic, the best thing ever written about the beautuful game. mr goldblatt is no chump. he knows his stuff . a bit too much about 'the glamour and appeal ' of the men who play for my liking. as a person of the old school i am entitled to say that. that is the book's only fault.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
By russell clarke TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
992 Pages on football. .....flippin heck. David Goldblatt has written an exhuastative absorbing examination of football and its impact on the world in the context of social, cultural and economic change. As well as serving as a potted history of the game , including overviews of the careers of some of the greats -Pele, Maradona ,Best, Puskas , Lampard( only joking)- it more accurately and assiduously traces the game from it's original working class roots ( or as a ill disciplined ritual) to the mass marketed global phenomenon it is today.

The author covers most of the demographic shifts in the games annals. How football can be used as a political tool -Mussolini, Stalin and the Argentinean Junta in 1978 most pertinently - and how these political machinations can lead to tragedy like the killing of Columbian defender Escobar after he scored an own goal in the World Cup finals. He charts the rise of Africa as a football power and the mass migration of African players spurred on by the success of George Weah. How the game can be used as a placebo for the masses and exploited by nefarious individuals and how the broadcasting frenzy has triggered the inequitable playing field we have today. Leading to a super breed of club gorging on the cream while the lower leagues are left to sift through the scraps.

The section on the rise of the great teams like The Hungary of the 50,s and the Brazil of the 70,s is fascinating while chapters on such prosaic items as the football boot and the architecture of Stadiums are not as dull as you would think. Goldblatt is not a massively gifted writer. You will not be dazzled by pithy turns of phrase or delightful poetic prose but he has done his research and he can put it across in a straightforward way with no pretension or pomposity.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Stuff
Just started getting into this after getting it for xmas,have to say this guy really knows his stuff...if you have even a slight interest in the 'beautiful game ''s a must
Published 3 months ago by brian
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on football to date.
If you want a serious, academic (yet still highly readable) account of the history of football, this is the book. Read more
Published 7 months ago by MRS R HARRINGTON
5.0 out of 5 stars Just superb......
This is far and away the best book written about the history of football, in my opinion. Quite superb and a wonderful addition to my ever-growing library of football-related books.
Published 21 months ago by W. Markham
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the effort
This is a monster of a book - I really can't imagine slogging through it on the Kindle, but it was a great read in actual book-form. Read more
Published 22 months ago by DCollins77
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Got My Rose Tinted Glasses On?
Whilst reading previous reviews for this book, I was expected something exceptional and out of the ordinary: a real grasp you by the scruff of the neck read. Read more
Published on 30 Sep 2011 by Mrs. Aine Wimpenny
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating - Great Read
I have been following football only since the last 8 years and have been building my knowledge slowly about the history of the game. This book has probably taught me the most. Read more
Published on 14 Jan 2010 by S. Patel
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just football
You dont have to be a football fanatic to enjoy this book, as it can be read as a social and political history of the 20th century with football as the theme running through. Read more
Published on 11 Sep 2009 by D. Moseley
4.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for anyone interested in football's place in world...
This book is immense. It was really hard-going, not because it wasn't interesting, but because it was so amazingly comprehensive. Read more
Published on 18 Jun 2009 by C. Ball
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Book for the Beautiful Game
A back cover review of this book describes it as `the only football book that you are ever going to need'. Read more
Published on 3 April 2009 by Jim
5.0 out of 5 stars A marathon, not a sprint. But I'm over the moon, Brian
First things first, this is a massive book. 978 pages long(including index), it weighs about half a hundredweight. Read more
Published on 19 Nov 2008 by Chris Widgery
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