4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A worthy effort but the perhaps a missed opportunity,
This review is from: Behind the Curtain: Travels in Football in Eastern Europe (Hardcover)
Writing any book about Eastern Europe must be a hazardous process. The chief problem involves a decision on whether to concentrate on life before the collapse of communism or what has ensued since. Most authors take the former course and so Wilson should be congratulated for attempting to tackling the chaotic, often anarchic, events of recent years.
Wilson does well to capture the fast pace of change in Eastern Europe and the rise of previously unheralded clubs such as Litex Lovech and Groclin. The pace of events also proves to be his downfall though. It is quite possible that he should have waited until he was a bit older before writing the book (a mention of a 1992 school trip to Russia marks him out as startlingly young) and it is not clear if he travelled to the eastern Bloc before the end of the old systems, and recent astonishing events such as CSKA's UEFA Cup win and the huge sums dished out by the likes of Dynamo Moscow are relegated to the epilogue. He also states that "..for Steaua Bucharest, a second European Cup success is as far away as a second league title is for Ipswich". As I write, Steaua have secured themselves a place in the semi final of the 2005-06 UEFA Cup - merely weeks after this book was published. It is incumbent on the publishers to request amendments to the book in time for the paperback's appearance in the autumn of 2006.
Another frustration is the selective nature of the coverage. To be more authoritative, the book could have been a good deal longer, with a statistics section at the back listing league title winners in the various countries. It might also have benefitted from broad brush analysis and less reliance on the personalized accounts of whichever personality Wilson managed to track down at any particular time (interesting as some of these undoubtedly are.)
East Germany - and Dynamo Berlin's run of league titles in the 1980s - is a major omission. It would have been fascinating to have Wilson's opinions on how the likes of Hansa Rostock and Dynamo Dresden have struggled in a united league. And what of Latvia? Their achievement in reaching the finals of Euro 2004 isn't mentioned at all.
Overall, however, the pace with which I read this book is a testament to how interesting it is and Wilson is certainly a football writer to look out for in the future.