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4.7 out of 5 stars48
4.7 out of 5 stars
Format: HardcoverChange
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 11 October 2013
Due to the success of the Spanish national team and the exploits of arguably the world's two biggest clubs, there have been many books about Spanish football. Sid Lowe's book tops the lot and stands head and shoulders above the rest. But this is far more than just a book about football.....

Football takes a back seat for the first 80 pages, Spain's politics and modern history played a huge role in the identities of both Madrid and Barcelona. This cannot be understated and Lowe does a fantastic job of setting the scene. It was impossible to keep sport and politics apart, both had a major bearing on the dna of these great rivals. Whilst some of the work will be familiar to other books on the same subject, the book has a stronger understanding of the far-reaching influence the clubs possess. Chapter by chapter the history of their rivalry is built (even manufactured at times) and is even-handed in both praise and criticism. Thankully it's only the last few chapters that deal with the current teams, personally I'm rather tired of the question - who is better, Messi or Ronaldo? The book manages to avoid wasting paper gushing over the both of them. No matter how good individuals are, the book illustrates that the club will always be bigger, and rightly so. Personally I found the book contained some wonderful stories and tales especially from Michael Laudrup, Louis Van Gaal and Pedrag Mijatovic. Probably the only criticism I found was that the Bobby Robson era at Barca was largly ignored bar a brief mention.

At over 400 pages you will devour this pretty quickly and by the end will still want more. There are some fine books about the recent Spanish footballing glory but this one is the best. Sid Lowe shows he has more in his locker beyond football.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2014
I am a filipina from the Philippines and my fiance is currently living in UK who is also a British. My fiance is a very sports enthusiast especially in football. In the Philippines, basketball is the most popular sports, even so, I am not a very sports person so I am not good in conversing with my fiance about sports, about football. I am trying to learn it but it's hard and I want my fiance to know that I still love listening to his sports stories even if I do not have any idea at all. I never wanted my fiance to think that I am not interested with sports, and I know that every thing about sports will make him happy. Recently I have been seeing his tweets about Atletico Madrd and Barcelona and all about La liga stuff in Spain, so I searched and I found this book. I know that he will really love it, I didn't hesistate to purchase it and it was delivered to perfectly within estimated date. My fiance opened the package the day of our anniversary and posted on facebook how happy he is, telling his facebook peeps that he has the best woman ever. I asked him how it was and he loves the content as it also includes history :) I am so happy that he loves it.

If your partner is a sports enthusiast, I would defo recommend it!!! Great book, good content and very informative.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 13 November 2013
This is a truly wonderful book that is beautifully written, meticulously researched and benefits from interviews with a vast number of relevant people : players, coaches, directors, physios and even a cemetery caretaker.
But it's not just about football : it puts these two huge clubs in the context of Spanish history, society , culture and politics and in doing so exposes the myths about the Barca Madrid rivalry as well as uncovering the reality of their interdependent stories.
Read it, enjoy the often hilarious inside stories, and understand a hugely important component of Spain.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2013
Interesting history of the rivalry & how it is interwoven with Spanish and Catalan culture and aspirations. Add to this the love of great football & precious interviews ;Cruyff & Di-Steafano in particular. Enjoyed immensely.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 December 2013
Football, sociology, history, politics and economics all distilled into a potent cocktail. Using an academic's eye and a journalist's eye for detail and prose Sid Lowe has written a classic. This and Phil Ball 's 'Morbo' are collectors items.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 10 October 2013
I read this in less than a week. Thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. Entertaining and informative. It never shies away from the more complex issues that surround the rivalry.
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on 20 January 2014
I've read a lot of Sid Lowe's columns in World Soccer over the years and I have come to trust his opinion and superb analysis with regards to Spanish football. I only realised that he had written this book when I was browsing the sports section in my local bookstore and was pleasantly surprised when I seen it on the shelf. Needless to say I purchased it on the spot!

I proceeded to become lost in the pages as the book was utterly fascinating. Absolute credit to Sid as the depth of his research was extensive in the extreme!!I loved the way the book was structured and the attention paid to key periods in both the clubs histories. The chapters on Di Stefano, the Barca dream team from the 90's and the vulture squad were particular highlights for me. Also, the information on the Spanish civil war set the tone for the rest of the book. Sid was able to explain the true background about Real being Franco's team and the myths surrounding this. I've actually ordered Orwell's Homage to Catalonia on the back of reading this book as I would like to learn more about the Catalan perspective of the civil war.

Overall a fabulous read that any football fan will greatly enjoy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 November 2013
Fantastic reading this from Sid Lowe, having read every book of his, knew this wouldn't fail. Simply amazing and will make a fantastic present.
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on 19 March 2015
I lived in Barcelona for nearly 10 years and was an enthusiastic supporter of FCB my entire time in the city.

I won't lie, I was swept up in the "romance" surrounding the club and my 10 years there were probably the period that will be looked back at by historians as a Golden Era. My knowledge of FCB history had come from books and articles written from a FCB perspective and I was given the rose tinted history from the locals.

Don't get me wrong FCB have had their troubles and many of the "truths"they hold dear are indeed that. However....

This book reveals the fuller picture of many incidents in the histories of both clubs. Many myths are, if not destroyed, put in context that paints aspects of each club's history in a slightly different light.

Don't misunderstand me, this is not going to turn any Madridistas into Cules or vice versa but as a balanced, well researched and well written history of the rivalry it is pretty much the definitive work.

If you follow Spanish football I suggest you get on it.
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on 20 November 2014
I have always enjoyed Sid Lowe's excellent Spanish articles on Spanish football, and he doesn't disappoint with this book.

It is thoroughly well researched, and beautifully crafted. Lowe also busts a lot of myths, and put the clubs rivalry in context. The historical aspect, particularly around the Spanish Civil War and Franco's dictatorship, was fascinating, and helped shaped these clubs politically.

The ending of the book felt a little more rushed, and I would have liked to read a little into Lowe's insight of present day Real and Barca. However, there is a lot of that material out there, and the book was very long as it is.

Overall, a wonderfully researched book, beautifully thought out and crafted. It is a rarity that a book about these two football giants does not contain some bias- but Lowe avoids this expertly, and presents the history of both clubs equally, impartially, and passionately.
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