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Tor!: The Story of German Football [Paperback]

Ulrich Hesse-Lichtenberger
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
Price: 9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

15 July 2003
A revised and updated paperback edition of Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger's acclaimed history of German football, first published in 2002.

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Tor!: The Story of German Football + Calcio: A History of Italian Football + Behind the Curtain: Football in Eastern Europe: Travels in Eastern European Football
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: WSC Books Limited (15 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 095401345X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954013455
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 268,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Tor! The Story of German Football does exactly "what it says on the tin". As the author explains, his aim was to write an entertaining history of the German game. He has certainly achieved his goal, or "tor" as they would say in Germany. Hesse-Lichtenberger sets out to prove that football in Germany is not necessarily the efficient, predictable machine that those of us believing in the German stereotype might think. Again, he succeeds. From the foundation of the game to the present day (and dare I mention the historic 5-1 defeat at the hands of the English in Munich in September 2001), the narrative finds plenty of room to include the quirky, amusing and unexpected. The seemingly curious names of many German club sides are dissected, while the fact that the national side managed to win the 1954 World Cup before the advent of the first professional national league only serves to amaze. The author proclaims his belief that it is people who shape events, and misses no opportunity to investigate the diverse personalities who have made the German game what it is, from the obsession of Herberger to the maverick brilliance of Netzer. The upshot is a wonderfully colourful history, and one that will no doubt surprise even most the avid of Europhile football followers. The latest in the line of recent books in English on European football, Tor!, like a number of German teams of the past, is a clear winner. --Trevor Crowe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


A model of how history should be written. -- Four Four Two

Beautifully crafted... demolishes myths with the cold-blooded efficiency of a literary Gerd Muller -- Times

Very good... Tor! reveals that German football is more prone to self-doubt than self-promotion. -- Observer

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story of German Football 6 April 2004
I couldn't believe how good this book was. It tells you everything you ever wanted to know about German football. It's origins, how it progressed, developed into the Bundesliga.
It's written in such an entertaining style and is so informative. There are loads of stories, from the stories behind team names such as Energie Cottbus and Carl Zeiss Jena, to detailed looks at significant figures in German football history from Franz Beckenbauer to Lothar Matthaus, from Gerd Muller to Rudi Voller. Then there are the tales of German football during the Nazi Era, from players who went missing and those whose fate was all to obvious.
There is a detailed account of football from the old East Germany. It is divided into a different section, as it should be, from the West German football league. Then came reunification and the players who found bigger fame once they moved to the West from the East, Jens Jeremies and Sebastian Deisler being two such players.
This is not just a straight, German football history book. It's too well written for that. It is one of the best football books I've read and I've read many. There are many lighter moments in here too, you will be laughing out loud to. Sehr gut und Einfach klasse!
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book on the recommendation of a friend. This was an excellent decision. Cheers Stumpy...
This history of football in Germany is well written, funny and tragic. There were so many things that I learnt from this. From the way teams were named and originated to stories that just make you laugh out loud and others that reduce you to tears.
As an example there is the story of a player signed by a team who said "They wanted to give me a third of the gate receipts. I told them No Way. I won't accept less than a quarter."
To think that the Germans had no professionalism or national league until 1963. The way that the national federation controlled the game and looked on professionalism as a disease to be fought off is unbelievable to us.
This book proves that there is more to German football than Bayern Munich. It shows how team rose and fell and how the game developed from an "unpatriotic" and "foreign" one into a world beater. This teaches us about the German people and their view of us and other countries.
They are bemused at our image of them and do not understand our rivalry and obession with the War that pervades the meetings between our countries.
I highly recommend this to every who wants to gain an insight into the history and development of the game in Germany.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wunderbar 25 Aug 2002
This is a thoroughly enjoyable introduction to German soccer. Obviously written with an English audience in mind, it nevertheless makes compelling reading. The writer is a German writing in English and occasionally it shows, but this only adds to the charm and remarkable even-handedness of the piece.
There is much here that I am sure is new to English audiences. I found the chapter about the 1954 world cup victory ('the miracle of berne') and Herbert Zimmermann's commentary of the final remarkably moving (especially when the received wisdom is the mighty magyars were cruelly robbed in that final). Also revealing is that Rudi Voeller is a thoroughly good bloke (when we all think of him as just a bloke with a typically naff German moustache and haircut) and that Franz Beckenbauer's personal behaviour hasn't always been as impressive as his achievements in the game. The author seems keen to dispel the myth of German efficiency and thoroughness, which is refreshing , but it doesn't quite come off because time and again we see Germans achieving heights (in spite of themselves) that the English just haven't got close to.
Just a couple of odd notes struck this reader and both relate to the war (sorry to say). The first is this line 'On April 30, 1945 Adolf Hitler shot himself. The day before Hamburg had beaten Altona 4-2 in the last official match played during wartime.' Now call me a pointy head, but the fall of Berlin (in which more Russians and Germans died over two months than the USA lost in the whole war) is a rather odd juxtaposition for such a meaningless match.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 30 Nov 2006
I read this cover to cover in about a week, and enjoyed every word - this has got to be one of my favourite football books ever. So much so that I now see Rudi Voller in a completely different light, Lothar Matthaus in exactly the same light and now (this is the most bizarre bit) feel sorry for Oliver Kahn after his 'mare in the 2002 World Cup Final.

The shambles that was German national football, incredible as it seems, is explained in full as is football's position within the Nazi regime.

If you have any interest in football, or Germany, buy this book, it's fantastic. Perhaps if you're one of the 'no surrender' brigade, don't bother but get your kids to read it as they'll grow better for it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars .......and one World Cup 10 Jan 2003
By D A Dix
If you are a fan of all things football - READ THIS BOOK!! If you already have an opinion on German football....I bet you it's wrong! I worked in Germany as a football commentator and thought I knew a lot about the Bundesliga. Wrong! If only this book had been around a couple of years ago.....
An absolutely fascinating read, starting at the very beginning of the German game. I was fascinated at how the household (in Germany) names that I recognised were so influential in the development of the beautiful game in the country where we (falsely) believe it became an automated one.
An outstanding book full of invaluable information for those of us who think we know it all. How many of you out there knew that 'adidas' has never officially been spelt with a capital letter? Or that 'adidas' and 'puma' were founded by two fueding brothers?
Buy this book and you won't be disappointed. You may even change your opinion on the Germans.........
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Xmas Prezzie
I bought this for my brother as a Xmas prezzie as he's always been a massive fan of German football since he was a kid. He was thrilled with the book and says its a great read.
Published 7 months ago by M. Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Not an ordinary football book
This is an absorbing book for anyone with an interest in German football, or even in the history of Germany in the 20th century. Read more
Published 9 months ago by John Baird
5.0 out of 5 stars Tor
Very informative book. In depth and detailed history of German football with interesting side stories. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Muri
5.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful
For any football fan who has an interest in German football this book gives you the context to the modern German game. Very informative and interesting read.
Published 17 months ago by therevba
4.0 out of 5 stars Successful present!
I bought this book from a list of requests from my partner. He seems to be enjoying it very much (in fact he is beside me reading it as I type! Read more
Published 19 months ago by a.e.m.lofts
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic tale told very well indeed
Midway through this book, there's a reference to a popular view of Udo Lattek, manager of Bayern in the 1970's, that any fool could have lifted silverware with a squad that... Read more
Published on 8 Mar 2011 by Wattsenhausen
4.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener
This puts it all into context. Yes they've won it three times (it is three isn't it?), but not since 1990 though they won the Euro's in 96. Read more
Published on 15 Sep 2010 by androo235
4.0 out of 5 stars deserves its praise
As a long time fan of German football who had long lamented the relative ignorance of it in Britain, certainly compared to the equivalent knowledge of the British game amongst... Read more
Published on 21 Aug 2010 by der Dicke
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book on Football I have Ever Read
Herr Hesse-Lichtenberger has written a most informative book on the history of German football from it's rise in Imperial Germany to it's years of world dominance in the seventies... Read more
Published on 14 Aug 2009 by steve b
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written, researched, passionate, self effacing, and contextual.
Many books try to place sport in a wider context, Barca a peoples passion has limited success, Viva la vuelta promises it and fails. Read more
Published on 22 May 2009 by D. Mead
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