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The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football Paperback – 30 Aug 2007


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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: 15.3 x 4.2 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,323 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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By ben on 11 Sep 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By russell clarke TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Nov 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By james briggs on 12 Sep 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By allan on 15 Jun 2007
Format: Hardcover
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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Chris Widgery VINE VOICE on 19 Nov 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First things first, this is a massive book. 978 pages long(including index), it weighs about half a hundredweight. But it does precisely what it says on the tin - it is a global history of the global sport. It starts off exploring the roots of the game, how different versions developed and eventually coalesced into the sport we know today. How the sport took off and developed in each continent, how tactics and cultures developed, the impacts of television, sponsorship and the global media environment. It ends up at the 2006 world cup, as billions of people prepare to watch, the game having shrunk the world to one set of fans.

It's very thorough, very detailed. It puts football into an historical context - showing how it can both respond to and lead wider and greater events. Crucially, it's also very very readable. It doesn't get boring (unless you don't like football, of course. In that case, it must be one of the dullest books imaginable) at all and is all very easily digested. You can read in long sittings or dip in and out.

Highly recommended. If you have strong enough wrists.
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