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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine football book
I think that many people have heard part of this tale, at least the more popular version: the Ukranian footballers who in Nazi-occupied Kiev defied the Wehrmacht in what was to be a friendly football match they were supposed to lose, and died for it. Much of the myth around the legendary side Dynamo Kiev is built up on this. Andy Dougan largely follows the story; he tries...
Published on 28 Sep 2007 by Erik Cleves Kristensen

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating
For the first 200 of the 250 pages this is a great book, giving a real human dimension to the harshness of life in both pre-war and occupied Kiev. Although I appreciate that research must have been difficult, it is still deeply frustrating that the story of FC Start's players builds up layer upon layer of detail, only to suddenly run out of steam and out of facts in the...
Published on 22 April 2007 by David Browne


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine football book, 28 Sep 2007
By 
Erik Cleves Kristensen "ECK" (Mozambique) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Dynamo (Paperback)
I think that many people have heard part of this tale, at least the more popular version: the Ukranian footballers who in Nazi-occupied Kiev defied the Wehrmacht in what was to be a friendly football match they were supposed to lose, and died for it. Much of the myth around the legendary side Dynamo Kiev is built up on this. Andy Dougan largely follows the story; he tries to demystify the myth of the heroic players who defied all odds for their love of the game; most were men trying to survive a war, and had been working at a bakery managed by a sports-crazed Ukranian, who decided to make a football team from all the former stars to play in a football tournament set up by the German occupiers.
The team outperformed all, even humiliating a German side. But that is where the story somehow questions whether the team actually was torn apart because of that victory: many of the players continued in Kiev, some survived the war, and some were sent to Siretz, a prisoner camp known for its barbarism on the outskirts of Kiev. Three of the great players of Dynamo Kiev were executed at Siretz, a part so well described in the book that one feels the grueling suffering the prisoners went through. The ones shot were Ivan Kuzmenko, Alexei Klimenko and the great Nikolai Trusevich, who had been one of the best goalkeepers in the world at the time. And here, Mr. Dougan adds to the legend telling how Trusevich last words were "red sport will never die" and wearing his goalkeeper jersey!
The book is excellent, as it puts the dilemmas of the war into the trivial world of football; how football was seen both as a means to motivate people, and as an outlet for political protest in an environment where life was worthless (this book is interesting to read in conjunction with Simon Kuper's "Ajax, the War and the Dutch", also about the world of football during WWII).
If one is interested in sports, football and history, this is well-worth a read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Football, Life and Death: A Cliche Reviewed, 18 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Dynamo: Defending the Honour of Kiev (Hardcover)
Andy Dougan has produced a fascinating account of how one of the Soviet Union's finest sides was reborn under the German occupation of Kiev as a bakery XI - FC Start - which then proceeded to beat every team that their occupiers could throw at them. This not really a book about football - the account of the 1942 'season' is covered in less than a fifth of its content - it is more about what war can do to ordinary people, driving them to acts of horrific brutality, of dignified heroism and of all shades of behaviour in between. It is at its best in describing the terrible sufferings of the people of Kiev during the occupation and how during a few months of 1942 a team of footballers regained them a sense of civic and national pride. Also interesting is its account of the uneasy relationships between Nazism and Ukranian Nationalism and between the Gemans and their Hungarian and Romanian allies during this period. An attempt has been made to portray most of the central characters in as even-handed manner as possible - the bakery manager who assembled the team is showns not as some Schindler-type saviour, nor as a man out simply for personal gain, but as a complex, damaged sports fanatic who surrounded himself with his heroes to help massage his fragile ego and also boost his standing with both the local population and the Germans. I have some criticisms: Dougan's prose is sometimes over-enthusiastic and awkward. He also glosses over what happened to the surviving players during the post-war years. In particular he seems unable to reconcile the official Soviet mythology - that the entire team team were shot in their football strip for daring to beat a Luftwaffe XI - with the fact that most of them survived the war, treated at first as collaborators and then later lionised as reluctant heroes. Perhaps this simply mirrors the irreconcilable differences at the heart of much of Soviet mythology. All in all however I can heartily recommend this well-researched book to anyone interested in football, ordinary life on the Eastern Front, or indeed anyone simply interested in the human condition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best football book ever, 28 Feb 2007
By 
Mr. Clark Gillies (West Kilbride, Ayrshire Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dynamo (Paperback)
This is probably the best historical football book ever!!!

My wife is Ukrainian, and I am intrested to learn about her history and culture, and most History books on Ukraine I have seem to repeat the same stuff over and over agian, but this book I can get a short straight-forward history of Ukraine and about a football match!

It does read like a Hollywood script (Nazi's come in and a bunch a footballers beat them over and over again in a football match) but is really gripping and shows a great deal of the suffering of the people of Ukraine and Kyiv before and during the war!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Account: Great Story, 22 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Dynamo (Paperback)
A little thin perhaps, but nonetheless an inspiring account of resistance in the most trying of cicumstances. The story of FC Start, mythologised by the leadership of the USSR, is told in full for the first time here, from the 1941 battle for Kiev, through a harrowing account of life in the city, to the liberation and the comeback of Dynamo Kiev after the war. In between, we are told how Start, a team composed mainly of ex-Dynamo players, played a heroic series of games against axis teams in Kiev, winning all of them.
Thought-provoking and inspiring, if a tiny bit thin.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Football, Soviet history - a perfect combination, 5 Jan 2008
By 
Tim Johnson "leyrtj" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dynamo (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book. It's a great combination of Ukrainian and Football history. I've never read much about the Russia and the ex-Soviet bloc, but this not only part-filled a gap but opened up a desire to find out more. More of a gap-creator than a gap-filler.

This book tells the history of Ukraine up to and during the 2nd World War. Whilst the main focus of the book is on football, a large part of the book also deals with pre-WWII history and how Ukraine fared during the German occupation. That Ukraine is an incredibly resource rich country has meant that it has been invaded many times and was one of the first countries entered when Hitler went into USSR.

The football side of the book recounts the establishment of the game in Ukraine and Russia and the forming of the Soviet league. It tells the story of Dynamo Kiev, who were one of the first teams to be established in USSR. They were one of the top pre-war teams, but after the abandonment of the league following Hitler's invasion, the team, like most other teams, was broken up.

Then during occupation, a bakery owner and sports-lover employs a number of ex-sports stars at his bakery to keep them in employment and away from trouble. Working at this bakery are the remnants of the Kiev team and players from other teams. To increase morale in Kiev, the occupying German forces allow a league to be formed and this is where the joy of the book comes out. As expected, the bakery team demolish all other other teams, culminating in a game against the Germans which they can't afford to win....

If you love football or Soviet history, or if you want a different type of book to read, this book is worth looking at.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Football against the enemy, 6 Dec 2007
This review is from: Dynamo: Defending the Honour of Kiev (Hardcover)
Dougan's clear, well-written account delves behind the myth to present the truth about FC Start's brief expression of defiance and solidarity under the yoke of Nazi oppression.

It is a story about the bravery of individuals set against a historical backdrop of great suffering, where cruelty & death were commonplace and every day a battle to survive.

During the early chapters, 'Dynamo' gives a potted history of the Ukraine (a long bloody one of numerous invasions), of Ukrainian football, and the development of Dynamo Kiev and its personalities including the charming Konstantin Shchegotsky. Shchegotsky's prominence in the early chapters - he managed to escape the Nazi encirclement of Kiev - prefigures the bond that would unite the Dynamo players under Nazi occupation. Falsely accused during the Great Terror, none of Shchegotsky's team-mates informed against him including his polar opposite, and fellow striker, Makhinya, a committed Stalinist.

It was a team spirit shown again after the Nazi invasion and subsequent brutal occupation of Kiev with Dynamo players under particular threat as their team had been linked to the secret police.

In an cynical effort to win the hearts and minds of the Kievan people, the Germans policy of "pacification through normalisation" saw the Ukrainians allowed to field football teams but, as Dougan depicts, it became a policy that backfired dramatically on the Germans with FC Start becoming an expression of national solidarity and defiance for the Ukrainian people against the invader.

Dougan details the tension of FC Start's rematch (August 1942)against Flakelf, the German side, such as the sinister message delivered to the FC Start team by the SS referee before the match and their defiant refusal to perform the Nazi salute. As a consequence, the team did not celebrate their victory as they only knew too well its likely outcome.

Dougan separates truth from legend - he reveals that one of the team incarcerated in Siretz, the notorious death camp, informed against his colleagues - to present a fascinating story of men defying brutal occupiers and expressing themselves as footballers.

My main criticism of the book echoes a previous review. Too little information is given about the fates of too many of the personalities in the story like the vicious Siretz commandant, Paul Radomsky, or of Nikolai Trusevich's Jewish wife and child. We never learn if they survived and in this sense, the account of FC Start ends rather too abruptly. There are also a lack of photographs such of as the granite monument outside the Dynamo stadium dedicated to the four players murdered by the Nazis .
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating, 22 April 2007
By 
David Browne (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dynamo (Paperback)
For the first 200 of the 250 pages this is a great book, giving a real human dimension to the harshness of life in both pre-war and occupied Kiev. Although I appreciate that research must have been difficult, it is still deeply frustrating that the story of FC Start's players builds up layer upon layer of detail, only to suddenly run out of steam and out of facts in the final very rushed 50 pages.

I've never finished a book with so many unanswered questions - about people and events initially described in fine detail, then set aside and dropped. How did half of the team manage to survive the death camp at Sirets? (According to Wikipedia there was a revolt at the end of its days in which 15 prisoners escaped, and the remaining 300 were executed). Was the kommandant ever caught? Did all those players and relatives who escaped the occupation survive the war? (for example Trusevich's wife and child, who are periodically mentioned throughout, or Konstantin Shchegotsky, who is the main character in the first 90 pages) Even writing that he doesn't know would be something, instead of making it feel like a chapter or two is simply missing.

So, for the most part an excellent read, but a shame that it doesn't feel finished...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommendation: Read this book!, 6 Mar 2003
This review is from: Dynamo: Defending the Honour of Kiev (Hardcover)
I just finished reading this incredible book called : Dynamo, Defending the honour of Kiev. It's the true story about FC Start, a football team created in Kiev during the second world war after the capture of the city by the Nazis. It consisted mainly from ex-Dynamo players with some additions of Lokomotiv players. They started playing against teams made by the new rulers of the city, facist-Ukrainians and German and allied soldiers. They finished the 'championship' unbeaten and then where challenged to play against the Flakelf a team composed by well-trained, well-fed german soldiers, the elite of the SS army. They knew that beating this team would have consequences... But in front of an enthusiastic crowd of poor-morale Ukrainians they played... and humiliated the germans with a 5-3 victory. Then they were all arrested and placed in a concentrations camp. 4 of them died in there. It's a truely tragic story.... You should all read that and realise that football is not only a game... It's more than that....
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, but flawed, 23 April 2001
By 
ronald.simpson@onmail.co.uk (South Kirkby, West Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dynamo: Defending the Honour of Kiev (Hardcover)
The subject matter of Dynamo ensures a compelling read. The 1942 football season in German-occupied Kiev featured the exploits of FC Start, mostly former Dynamo stars, whose success ended with the humiliation of the German team Flakelf in the so-called 'Death Match'. Legends abound as to the identity of the German team (full of internationals) and the fate of the Ukrainian players (instant execution still in their football kit), Andy Dougan (or his researcher Vasily Yerenkov) effectively nails those myths: the entire team was arrested a few days later and eventually four were executed - horrifying enough, but not remarkable in a city whose population dropped by 80 per cent through death, flight and imprisonment. Unfortunately, though always gripping the attention, Dynamo irritates the reader with increasing frequency. Partly it's the journalistic style which makes for an easy read, but strains one's tolerance of cliche. Then there's the sentimentalization of the footballers: most of the are clean-cut heroes whose football skills are described in the manner of the Boys Book of Soccer - defenders are put on earth to 'flounder in the wake' of pur heroes. The dedication of the book to those who died is appropriate enough, but referring to them only by diminutives ('Sasha', 'Vanya') makes them sound like members of the family. The Prologue to the book begins 'Valentina and Alexei were very much in love, a blind man on a galloping horse could see that' - these newly weds are to have the most peripheral of roles in the story and this opening is typical of Dougan's sentimental approach and the padding out of the tale with semi-relevant material (a whistle-stop school-book account of the history of the Ukraine, for instance). Consistency of fact in minor details does matter to a serious historian (as does provision of an index) and inconsistencies over whether substitutes were allowed 'at that time' (a suitably imprecise term) or how fit the Start players were ('half-starved'...'taking delight in their own physicality') do not help our trust in the author. However, though it is easy to criticise Dynamo (indeed, impossible not to), it is good to get a sober account of this bizarre and strangely uplifting tale, even if the author's style is often more suited to re-telling the myth.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent account of a truly remarkable story, 16 Mar 2001
By 
This review is from: Dynamo: Defending the Honour of Kiev (Hardcover)
Although little known outside the former Soviet Union, the story of the football match staged between the Luftwaffe and Dynamo Kiev in WWII is a staggering tale which author Andy Dougan has done a very commendable job in recreating. His writing style is very approachable and he paints the scene of the Nazi invasion leading up to the fall and occupation of Kiev very well. He is at his best documenting the rise of FC Start (Dynamo Kiev under another name, since Dynamo was the official club of the Secret police) until they became a beacon of hope for the citizens of Kiev. Obviously, the Nazis were not going to stand for being upstaged by a bunch of Ukrainians and so staged a match against Germany's finest, with Kiev all but being ordered to lose. The result, as the saying goes, is history. Literally. Whilst the lead up to the fateful match is expertly written, the books slips a little in the match itself and its terrible aftermath, losing some of the dramatic momentum built up in the preceding pages. Nevertheless, this is a tremendous read and highly recommended as a deeply moving monument to a people who remained bloodied but unbowed.
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Dynamo: Defending the Honour of Kiev
Dynamo: Defending the Honour of Kiev by Andy Dougan (Hardcover - 5 Mar 2001)
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