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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What a buffoon McGinniss is!, 4 Nov 2010
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This review is from: The Miracle Of Castel Di Sangro (Paperback)
Sports stories don't come much better than Castel Di Sangro. The plucky underdog wins promotion against the odds and takes on the big boys of Italy's second division. Throw in the backdrop of a quirky Italian provincial town, financial mis-management, corruption, some truly crazy publicity stunts, drug deals and love, sex and death and you have a heck of a tale. One can only imagine what Buzz Bissinger, John Feinstein or Michael Lewis would have molded from such rich source material.

McGinniss manages to tell the tale well enough (who could fail), but he mucks the whole thing up by sticking his own big dumb self into the middle of the story. He begins by ignoring all the advice and guidance he is offered and as a result acts like the archetypal stupid yank abroad - not only does he disregard local manners and protocols but he proudly goes out of his way to do exactly the opposite of what he is asked. Against all advice he books himself into a local flophouse and then whines about how horrible it is, acts like a naive child when invited to sit with the clubs directors and generally makes a fool of himself. Worse still - despite having an incredibly limited experience of football he fools himself into thinking that he is an expert and offers up advice to the club's manager and posts cringing critiques of the clubs owners throughout the town. He even becomes directly involved in an effort to transfer one of the clubs players to the US. He excuses the shockingly rude behavior by shrugging it off as the result of some sort of football fever. Such a pathetic excuse would sound lame from a child, from a well traveled and experienced author it beggars belief. McGinniss ends the story by throwing a massive strop and marching off into the distance having betrayed everyone whose hospitality and patience he has taken advantage of. The long suffering residents of Castel de Sangro must have been glad to see the back of him. They deserved better. A better writer may well have also exposed their warts and shortcomings, but would have probably avoided acting like such a clown while doing so.

The story was compelling, McGinniss's writing was good and kept me reading but his behavior was just awful and by celebrating it the book he ruins a great tale.
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