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3.5 out of 5 stars13
3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 7 April 2015
I have read several books detailing the heydey of football hooliganism, but none come close to Among the Thugs. As others have stated what makes this book stand out is that it is written from a neutral perspective. It's hard to think of someone so removed from the British working-class as Bill Buford, a scholar and an academic from Louisiana. And it is this 'fish out of water' factor which makes Among the Thugs such an enjoyable read. Buford inserts himself into scenarios and situations in which he has no business being in, often with surprising results. The notion of him running through the streets of Turin with Manchester United fans as they 'take the city' is so ludicrous as to be comical, but his accounts of what he saw unfolding before him are far from humorous. He reports on the violence in a visceral and vivid way, not dressing it up like the hooligans themselves might have, but instead focusing on the human element. Throughout the book we share his abject horror as he watches these 'little s***s' inflict misery upon the lives of innocent, law-abiding members of society, all in the name of England or whatever town or city they hail from. At times Buford digresses a little too much, and his departures into the sociological factors at play are overly long and and somewhat long-winded. But those minor missteps aside this is an incredible piece of writing from start to finish and one that I'd whole-heartedly recommend to anyone with an interest in football hooliganism or indeed, the lives of the young, working-class males of Britain during the Thatcher years.
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on 9 November 1999
With the exception of "The Football Factory", this has to be the best of the now numerous football-hooligan-and-the-related-culture books. Unlike John King's book however this is a work of non-fiction. Some doubt has been cast in actual hooligan circles that Buford would have been allowed the access and participation he seems to have enjoyed but evidently the author did mix with a number of firms over the years, and was able to note his impressions at least from the sidelines, if not even the frontlines at times. In the US the book has raised eyebrows, given the traditional view of the English, and definitely makes for a compelling and frankly exciting read. At times both humorous and insightful, given the number of contrived and poorly written books in this "category" this book stands as a minor classic.
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on 18 March 2014
An American journalist's view of English football hooiganism in the 80s and 90s. Becoming friendly with a number of lads in the mobs, he tries to find out what makes them tick, and understand why young (and sometimes not so young) men choose to meet up around a football match and get stuck into each other for the adrenaline rush and subsequent bragging rights. Buford even gets his head kicked in by a policeman at Italia 90, in true gonzo journalism tradition.

Fact. Fiction? Who knows, but either's an entertaining read.
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on 20 May 2002
This book tells the story of an American journalist who by chance witnesses a football special on the way to game at a train station. Curious about the behaviour of the fans on the train, he decides to find out more. Travelling to games and getting in with the boys he travels around the country and goes to Italia 90. He experiences clashes with other fans and the police. The book is told from an outsiders point of view as the authour is American and hasn't the English "psyche" or biast views. I found the book gripping & compelling. It's a must read and anyone who purchases this will not be dissapointed.
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on 22 March 1999
This book chronicles the many acts of mindless violence commited by young English soccer thugs.The author, who searches in vain for rational and even scientific answers as to why these youths act this way,often describes in vivid detail and sometimes amusing terms the degradation and depravity of his subjects.He usually sees this from an American point of view and I feel that maybe he is unable to fully understand the nationalistic and macho motivations of these psychopaths.But it is still well worth the read, if for nothing else,other than to see a stereotypicaly innocuous culture behave so frightenly violent.
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on 10 April 2005
It's a well written book; but beware of the contents. He had no content with any of the top faces on the scene (why not read a book by one of them that are available), nor was he ever involved in any major incidents. He talks about people as if he knew them - but he is writing about stories he was told. Likewise he tells a story of a Millwall fan attacking a West Ham fan based on a newspaper account as if he was there (a very poor thing to do in a book).
I was there and this book does not represent what was going on. For excellent alternatives try (Steaming In, Hoolifan, Armed For The Match or Congratulations you just met the ICF).
However it is well writen, and an interesting account from an outsider - just beware of the contents.
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on 18 September 2003
I have read dozens of "football hooligan" books, and I have to say this is the best. Because Buford's able to speak as an outsider watching on, there's a sense of reality and truth often lacking elsewhere. A joy to read, with its dark humour and vivid character descriptions - I would recommend it to anybody, even those without an interest in football related violence.
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on 25 February 2014
Not great. It might have got one star but it picked up at the end a little - a good piece about Hillsborough that was refreshingly even-handed in light of all the hysteria we've had over the last few years, and an entertaining account of a trip to Sardinia for WC 1990, which details the police tactics very well. At the end, even the author has had enough of the "nation of little s***s", so at least he doesn't end by glamourising the people he seems to have been slavering over for the preceding couple of hundred pages.

Because he does glamourise them - you will have seen or read all the cliches and stereotypes elsewhere, the top boys in their suits and cufflinks, with their expensive tastes, the Godlike leaders of the thugs whom he depicts as Patton-like characters. There's a sequence where he accompanies a "General" on a charge - the thug leader runs backwards at the head of his troops, surveying them and whispering things like "Feel the intensity!" Yeah, right, I heard myself saying, not for the first or last time. So much of it just smacks of, at best a script for a bad TV drama, with RADA luvvies playing the hooligans, or, at worst, a journalist's wet dream. In the end, I realised I just wasn't accepting any of it as fact. Sometimes the author pads his writing out with lengthy lectures about the psychology of "the crowd" - these parts will make your eyes glaze over.

I can't recommend it at all - I struggled through it although it was just over 300 pages long. You won't gain anything from reading it - it's hopelessly out of date as a result of all the changes in football and policing. A curio at best.
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on 10 January 2016
Great read, interesting insight
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on 22 August 2006
If you were expecting a "Green Street" sort of story here, you will be disappointed. I actually read this book back in the early Nineties when it was first released.

I am currently re-reading it, and although it had dated badly, it is still an enjoyable read. Well written and intelligent, it tells the story of when an American journalist trys to discover the thrill of football violence.

He turns the Man Utd firm and tells of its activities in Turin and around the UK.

A good read, but it does goes into depth at some stages and doesn't, as some of the books recently released on this subject do, just go from fight to fight.
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