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The Best of Enemies: England v Germany [Paperback]

David Downing
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 7.51 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

20 Aug 2001
An England vs Germany football match is one of the most passionate and controversial sporting events there is - whether it's a club match or an international. Here, David Downing, the acclaimed author of "Passovotchka", examines the history of such clashes. He unearths the stories, the statistics, the footballing trends, and is then able to show how events on the football field have often mirrored the cultural and political identities of the two countries. Two nations, one goal.


Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; 2nd Revised edition edition (20 Aug 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747552797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747552796
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 12.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 892,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

"HELP OUR BOYS CLOUT THE KRAUTS" the Sun suggested to its readers. Bernard Manning claimed that "if their football was as bad as their sense of humour they wouldn't be in the World Cup". Clive Dunn was wheeled out to recite his Dad's Army catch phrase, "They don't like it up 'em." (West Germany won on penalties, Italia '90)

English football's finest hour--victory on home soil in the 1966 World Cup--was made all the more sweet by the fact that the opposition was West Germany. Even then the sporting rivalry between the two countries was intense. In the 34 years between that Wembley win and the next time an England team would beat Germany in a competitive fixture, that rivalry became a national obsession bordering on mania.

Recounting events up to and including England's victory in Euro 2000, writer David Downing unravels the fascinating history of international and club football between the two nations--from the legendary kickabouts in no-man's land during WWI, through early English dominance and the glory of 1966, to the slide into defeat after defeat--and asks what it is that has tied the two countries so closely together, and more importantly, how come "they" keep winning.

But as Downing points out, those looking to fuel the always-popular "two World Wars and one World Cup" brand of football analysis will find this book disappointing. It is simply too intelligent and perceptive a study of what has been a pivotal rivalry in English football for over 70 years, to allow that sort of moronic self-delusion to stand unchallenged.

His accounts and analysis of key events such as the shameful collusion with the Nazi regime in 1938, the German comeback that sunk the defending World champions in 1970, and the hollow triumph in Charleroi, culminate in a surprising and thought-provoking assessment of the footballing future for both countries.Alex Hankin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'You'll find no better insight into the history of Anglo-German football rivalry' TOTAL FOOTBALL 'A timely investigation into the history of the England-Germany fixture ... an intelligent offering that rises far above normal football books' INDEPENDENT

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth hurts 14 Oct 2002
Format:Paperback
The Best of Enemies is an excellent, perceptive analysis of one of the most infamous rivalries in football. All the matches in the England-Germany fixture's history are chronicled in fascinating detail, but what elevates it above the vast majority of football histories is the connections it draws between the game itself and its wider social context. The answers to all England's woes and all Germany's successes are to be found not on the football pitch but in the mind. International football is a product of culture and has an uncanny tendency to mirror and ultimately explain the psyche that underlies it. What it reveals is not always pleasant.
This is a depressing read for any patriotic English person (such as myself), but it is depressing only because it speaks the truth - the truth of a culture locked into the past, unable to take advice, implacably resistant to new ideas, suspicious of individual flair and, ultimately, addicted to failure. The author's words are at times damning but since what he does is akin to diagnosing illness, pulling punches is simply not an option. The English game has been in need of some tough love for a long, long time, but by its very nature has been unable to give or receive it.
The straight lines, long balls, hard tackles, hard running and all-pervading 'bulldog' spirit of English football were effective against Germany as long as they too were trying to play that way, culminating of course in the World Cup triumph of 1966. But whereas the Germans realised the errors of that clumsy style and reinvented their game as one of continental technique, passing and invention, the English were unable to learn from their success, and have essentially continued to play the same primitive game ever since.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essentual reading for any England football fan ! 25 July 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Relive the pain and joy (if you're old enough, that is!) of all those Germany v England games from the bizarre antics in no-man's land during the First World War to the rather uninspiring matches of 1998 and 1999. This interest and often amusing account charts the rivalry of these two nations at football which was sometime shawdowed by historty itself. Focusing on both international and club football this is a must for anybody who has had to endure Englands fortures against the real old enermy Germany since 1966. Yet its not all bad news, mostly, but not all, Manchester Utd, Liverpool and the like do do inject some pride that we have beat the Germans from time to time. A good read,with both amusing and tragically sad moments.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, critical and thought-provoking 14 Mar 2010
By M. V. Clarke VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
David Dowling's book is an excellent account of the long-standing football rivalry between England and Germany. He traces the history of this, through detailed comments on each meeting between the two teams up until the end of 2000. His analyses are trenchant, and reflect a keen understanding of wider developments in European football throughout the twentieth century. He is largely critical of English teams and their managers and officials, arguing cogentlythat insularity has long hindered the development of English football. Naturally, this book is limited by its publication date - the rivalry continues, and, in fact, the very next meeting between the teams after its publication saw a comprehensive 5-1 England win. Overall, this is compelling reading for inquiring football fans.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity 12 July 2003
By agmo
Format:Paperback
This book really fails to hit the spot. The author intends to examine the history behind the rivalry between England and Germany, but the book is most successful when looking at the more obscure period before the Second World War. Unfortunately, as the book moves to the period around and following the 1966 World Cup, he begins to colour the text with his own personal prejudices. Mr Downing is one of those Englishmen who thinks Geoff Hurst's second goal wasn't in!, claims that Don Revie based his 'robotic' Leeds side on Ramsey's England & believes that Alan Hudson could have been England's saviour in the 1970's!. The most dissapointing thing about this book is that though many of the participants of many memorable England - Germany matches are still with us, in over 200 pages Mr Dowling has not included a single interview. Mr Dowling, though printing many of the peurile tabloid headlines which have appeared before and after notable matches, fails to speak to any of the journalists responsible - it would have been nice to know if they really believe all that nonsense they write!. The whole culture of Britain's relationship with Germans is only touched on - he for an example does mention the prevalence of anti-German feeling in comics, but goes no further. Far from providing the answer, Dowling is part of the problem. He accuses the FA (rightly) of being insular and blinkered - but he suffers from the same problem himself.Of the 'flair' players he mentions, Jimmy Greaves only scored 1 goal for England in 2 World Cups, Kevin Keegan stated that Alan Hudson was dropped by Don Revie for drunken behaviour and Glenn Hoddle earned 53 caps without ever really fulfilling his potential at the highest level. Read more ›
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mullered 8 May 2002
By henryraddick@hotmail.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Germans may have taken an undignified whipping at Munich last year when the English were just too strong for them in every department of the game and they were overwhelmed by an avalanche of goals and quality - but they do have a rather nice word for "malicious enjoyment of another's misfortune".
5.0 out of 5 stars Soccer Book 15 April 2014
By Joanne Farmer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was a gift for our grandson. He coaches soccer and loves to read any book concerning this sport.
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