Top positive review
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Arguably the greatest book about fandom, and the culture of fandom, ever written.
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.