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Jim "Jim" (UK)

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The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football
The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football
by David Goldblatt
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.59

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Book for the Beautiful Game, 3 April 2009
A back cover review of this book describes it as `the only football book that you are ever going to need'.
When I told my wife this and how keen I was to read it, she asked if I was going to dispose of a supposedly redundant library of football books that I already own. Sadly I am similar to most football enthusiasts in that I never want to part with my large collection of football trivia and photograph histories.
However, the reviewer is correct in one sense - this is the most comprehensive history of world football that I have ever seen.
It is also unique. One of Goldblatt's major criticisms of mainstream history is that football is ignored by `serious' historians. He points out that anyone writing Twentieth Century history is omitting a great social development by doing so. Historians are happy to discuss literature, theatre, and even film - so why not football? Goldblatt argues that with TV viewing figures in the billions (estimates vary, but up to a third of the planet were watching) can events like the World Cup continue to be ignored by historians?
Goldblatt has set out to rectify this omission himself by producing the first comprehensive social history of football. It is an ambitious undertaking, but one that is fully realised in this book.
You might assume that with such a large subject, the facts would be diluted and chapters could read as an overview. That is far from the truth. The author covers each development with precision and clarity. It is well referenced and the scope for further reading is vast, as you might expect. In fact, Goldblatt is so thorough that this book stands as something completely different to the usual lazy efforts of football hack journalists.
It is an entirely different genre.
Themes that are explored include the dubious origins of the world game, claims by various countries of inventing it, the first codifying of rules in the English public schools, the emergence of Scotland, the spread of football across the British Empire, reasons for the lack of a foothold in Australia and Canada, the nascent continental game, and the growth of football around the Danube. One of the most interesting chapters explores the ways that football was developed in South America, and how different social conditions (especially the lack of participation in the World Wars) led to an entirely different football culture.
Goldblatt also examines how the devastating effects of the First World War caused profound changes to football in Europe. With the removal of a whole social class who had previously regarded football as their own, the game was claimed by the working class. He shows how the movement of men in Europe led to a great mixing of classes and cultures, and `seeded' football growth where it had previously been absent.
One area of football history that is overlooked in other studies that I have read is the role of the Olympic Games in early international football. Football had a sixty year history before the first World Cup in 1930, and it is an area that is easily omitted. Goldblatt explores the game and its relationship with the Olympics, and especially amateurism. For England fanatics, it makes good reading - until l918, they were unofficial World Champions, and untouchable. I found the explanations of the Danubian football revolution more interesting, however, and the fact that by the 1920s the writing was already on the wall for England and Scotland.
If you have read his far, you probably already know the rest of the story - or you think you do. Many of the assumptions made about modern football, particularly by British fans, are just untrue. Is Hooliganism `The English Disease'? The early problems in Glasgow are comprehensively chronicled, and the author leaves the reader to do the maths - violence north of the Border preceded the 1970s issues of Millwall and Leeds by fifty years.
From the Second World War onwards the book becomes less of an education and more of a delight, and the expected heroes and villains of post-war football emerge. The really enlightening chapters are those that deal in depth with football's considerable footprint in the developing world. Africa's relationship with the beautiful game is especially intriguing. Australia's lack of participation for a major sporting nation is well explained. Asia's vast distances and cultural contrasts go a long way to explaining the slow development of the game in Tehran and Tokyo.
Each chapter brings a different insight, and many are thoroughly reinforced by sound political and social references. Goldblatt weaves the sporting and political histories of the continents together with skill and care.
One of the successes of this book is that there is so much information, but that it is not overwhelming. The author takes a recognisable era and moves from continent to continent, and within each chapter he focuses carefully on the history of each country. His reflections on events, and reasons for them, make each chapter more than just a name-check of the major players and teams.
When I had read as far as the 1950s I looked forward to reading what Goldblatt had to say about Real Madrid. I was not disappointed. With characteristic style he examined the career of the greatest of them all, Alfredo di Stefano. A memorable quote is used: "If Pele was the violins, di Stefano was the whole orchestra."
It seems a fitting way to sum up the value and quality of this book to say that it is a demanding but rewarding read. Many chapters brought a smile to my face. Many chapters were challenging - the detail of Heysel in particular was hard going for me as a Liverpool fan - but it is all part of the great history of football.
Pele was right - it is The Beautiful Game. Now we have a Beautiful Book to go with it.

Hero Tales from the British Isles (Puffin books)
Hero Tales from the British Isles (Puffin books)
by Barbara Leonie Picard
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Classic Tales from old Britain, 26 Jan 2009
A very handy book to have for teaching KS2 Myths, Legends and Fables - all the stories are in a very flowery, old-fashioned language - better suited to years 5 & 6.


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Maxell 2GB USB Flash, 26 Jan 2009
Don't buy this USB Flash Drive! Absolute liability, totally unreliable,lost my data three times (luckily I back up regularly). Moving / retractable USB just a common gimmick, adds to wear & tear on unit. Cheap plastic surround not at all robust.

The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain
The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain
by Red Pine
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.25

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the Hermit in all of us, 15 Dec 2006
This book is the most comprehensive collection to date of the poems of Han-shan, or Hanshan, or Cold Mountain. There is a lengthy and well-researched introduction by Red Pine (Bill Porter) in which he examines the origins of these poems. Hanshan was a wandering poet-monk of 7th to 9th Century China who lived in the mountains and wrote poems on the walls of caves. It now seems unlikely that all the poems were written by one person, but the large time-span suggests several poets who were sympathetic to the original man.

Part of the attraction of these poems in the illusiveness of the author or authors. Who was this Zen Saint?

Red Pine's notes on each poem are excellent - they give historical and literary context, and allow even the novice to access these beautiful pieces of poetry.

If you live in the city and cannot escape, this books allows to slip away for a few minutes at least.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 22, 2008 12:29 PM GMT

Liverpool Football Club : Champions of Europe [DVD]
Liverpool Football Club : Champions of Europe [DVD]
Dvd ~ Liverpool Four
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: 14.98

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And you thought Chelski were good ?!?!??, 11 May 2005
Absolute pre-requisite for Liverpool fans. The individual European Cup Finals are unavailable on DVD, so this is the next best thing.
If you have kids that believe that Manchester United, with their two European Cup wins, are the dominant English European Cup team, or kids who are Chelsea or Arsenal fans (neither team have won it) then put them in front of this on a Saturday morning. They'll soon see sense.

News of the World Football Annual 2004/2005
News of the World Football Annual 2004/2005
by Stuart Barnes
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE football fans' bible, 11 May 2005
If you want all the football facts and trivia you are ever going to need then this is the book to have in your pocket at the Pub Quiz!
Serious students of football rely on the Rothmans / Sky Sports book, which is comprehensive; but if you are looking for something smaller but still exhaustive then the News of the World Football Annual should be the one you go for.
Everything is here - and as the oldest annually printed football gazeteer it has the authority of years of refining.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 27, 2008 3:42 PM BST

Desolation Angels: Modern Classic (Paladin Books)
Desolation Angels: Modern Classic (Paladin Books)
by Jack Kerouac
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kerouac's Mountain Solitude, 11 May 2005
Many will know Jack Kerouac as the author of 'On The Road' : a relentless record of his cross-country wanderings in the late 1940s. However, he published many more semi-autobiographical novels and this is one of the best.
It chronicles his time as a mountain fire-lookout in the 1950s, and describes his reflections on his solitude. Kerouac without booze and pills is the result and he tries to face up to his own life, before returning 'down to the world.'
There are some beautiful evocations of the wilderness, some heart-rending references to his inability to deal with the contents of his head, and the all-pervading presesence of Hozomeen, the mountain he faces each morning.
A must-read book for people interested in the true spirit of Kerouac, and one in the eye for people who tell you he was a one-dimensional misogynist.

Grass Sandals: The Travels of Basho
Grass Sandals: The Travels of Basho
by Dawnine Spivak
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful Introduction to Basho, 16 Oct 2004
This wonderful book is a beautiful introduction to the life and Haiku of Matsuo Basho written for children.
I did not think that haiku were easy to explain to children until I read it.

Star Wars Trilogy (Episodes IV-VI) [DVD] [1977]
Star Wars Trilogy (Episodes IV-VI) [DVD] [1977]
Dvd ~ Mark Hamill
Offered by Market garys Dvd's
Price: 34.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The DVDs we have all been waiting for, 16 Oct 2004
A long description of the plot on these DVDs is not really necessary because unless you have been hiding under a stone for the last 27 years you will know what Star Wars is all about.
Advice : buy a new television to watch the original Star Wars Trilogy on DVD. It needs, and DESERVES the best. Buy a BIG television. In fact, build yourself a cinema if you can afford it.
The DVD extras live up to expectations, and the long documentary is excellent. There IS a short documentary in which you see Vader's mask being created and fitted on Christensen.
The most telling comment from all the extras is from Lucas, who tells the viewers that when Ep III comes out it will all make sense.
Do yourself a favour and tide yourself over until then with the originals. And you can replay the bit when the Stormtrooper bangs his head again and again......

The Dharma Bums (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Dharma Bums (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Jack Kerouac
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Than 'On The Road', 23 Nov 2003
Following the huge success of 'On The Road' Kerouac had the chance to publish some of his manuscripts that he had been carrying around the country from house to house for nearly ten years.
One of the first was the magnificent 'Dharma Bums', a semi-autobiographical account of his time on the West Coast in the company of Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg. Kerouac portrays himself as 'Ray Smith' and Snyder appears as the hero of the piece, a mountain-conquering poet Japhy Ryder. Ginsberg is thinly disguised as Alva Goldbook.
The piece centres on Kerouac and Snyder's trip into the mountains and the poetry scene around San Francisco in the mid 1950s. The famous 6 gallery reading that kicked off the Beat revolution is fictionalised.
A beautifully observed book, full of the lightness of the mountains and the allure of Buddhism, it is Kerouac at his finest. It lacks the relentless energy of 'On The Road', but has instead a simple charm of its own. One of the first books that kick-started the 'rucksack revolution', a must for the secret hippy in all of us.

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