on 7 November 2010
From my point of view, the problems with this book begin with its constant comparisons between British football, and its football culture, and Italian football and football culture. I realize that the author's main target audience is obviously British, and to them this may be interesting, but the dearth of English language resources on calcio have led to this book being regarded as a definitive work not only in Mr. Foot's home nation but also in North America, as it's the only one out there that claims to be an in-depth look at calcio. For a reader outside the British Isles, this becomes tiresome very quickly. The second, and related, problem, is that the tone of the book is, overall, much less professional than one would expect from a "history," which I suspect may stem from the tabloid-style and quality coverage football universally receives in the UK. Again, this may be what a British audience expects, but elsewhere (particularly in Italy, ironically), standards for sports journalism and punditry are generally higher, and at points the tone becomes almost jingoistic, particularly in the section regarding the Heysel disaster, where much is made of, among other things, unsourced claims of Italian media referring to all English people as animals. It may well be, but again, little about calcio is mentioned without being related back to Britain. The author also claims that the name "calcio" is a reference to "calcio fiorentino," and implies that this is an attempt by Italians to claim that they invented football, when in fact "calcio" simply means "kick" in Italian. Similarly, in Friulano dialect, the game is known simply as "balon," which translates to "ball." Given that the Italian names for a penalty, corner kick and free kick are "calcio di rigore," "calcio d'angolo" and "calcio di punizione," I'm not sure how the author could have been unaware of the meaning of the word.
Probably the most disappointing thing about the book is the format. Unlike most works labeled as in-depth histories, it is divided, essentially, into a series of lists, mainly consisting of opinions and personal anecdotes. Never before have I come across a "history" that was presented in the form of a factbook. Notable omissions are Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero from the section on fantasisti, and the complete omission of Zico, Cerezo and Milan's legendary Gre-No-Li trio of the 1960s and 70s; Nils Leidholm in particular being a remarkable omission due to his impact on calcio as a coach. Also notably, Giuseppe Meazza is completely misrepresented as a goal poacher.
All in all, I was very disappointed in this book, as it was highly opinionated, in my opinion by both omission and inclusion failed to be definitive, and, again, included much that is of no interest to non-British readers, and most importantly, it was not what I expect a "history" to be.
on 2 September 2007
This book is a wonderful read. Even my wife, who hates football, enjoyed it. I've read an awful lot of books, from Dostoevsky to detectives, and can't remember too many that gave me so much pleasure. A word of warning; don't let anyone borrow it as you'll never get it back.
on 2 July 2006
I would agree with what the other reviewers have said - this book is informative, entertaining, insightful and well-written. I love European football and would also recommend the German and Spanish 'versions' of this style of book ('Tor' and 'Morbo', I also understand that 'Brilliant Orange' about the Dutch is very good). I took 'Calcio' on holiday to Venice (during the World Cup) and read it cover-to-cover on Italian soil, which will always make it one of my favourite books.
There are only two reasons I have not given the book 5 stars - one its sheer imposing bulk - much larger than a standard paperback, which you can't tell when buying from Amazon. The other reason is the poor photos - only about one black-and-white image every 20 pages or so, which might seem an immature criticism ("where are the pretty pictures?") but given the rich variety and availabilty of the subject matter, from stadia and cities to players and match action, i was a little disappointed that there was not at least one colour section showing the good and bad of Italian football history which is, as mentioned above, excellently described and deserving of better images to accompany it.
If you have ever watched Gazzetta Football Italia you will love this book!
on 26 October 2009
This is a very accessible combination of history, sociology and football fanatic's guide to Italian football. I was surprised at how readable the book was and the unorthodox structure made it very enjoyable. There is an underlying seriousness to the approach to the topic but it never gets heavy, and there is much, often very subtle, humour.