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Customer Review

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I have been waiting a long time for a book like this., 21 July 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Tor! The Story of German Football (Hardcover)
As a German-American fan of German soccer, I've been waiting a long time to find an english language book on the subject that was not reduced to stereotypical notions of German soccer as another roaring success of quality German engineering and efficiency. For that reason I'd recommend the book to even those who don't like German soccer as the author goes after the efficiency myth with a vengeance, particularly in the bureaucratic development and management of the sport in Germany. The author goes beyond the mere reportage of the success of German soccer on an international scale, to place it in a cultural context within a fairly newly established state (ca. 1870s) that arose from centuries of regionalism. Many German officials defended the English amateur tradition - the English amateur game which was originally introduced in Germany - to absurd lengths ensuring that a nationwide professional league not being established until the 1960s. The politics of Nazi regime are exposed as a great farce in the realm of sport as the supposed blending of German and Austrian squads into a new national symbol of unified pride instead wallows in self defeating jealousy between the two nationalities which precludes any success in soccer. The attempts to develop a competitive East German league are sabotaged by lip service to communist communial ideals and the selfish desires of individual bureaucrats. One can only conclude that the success of German soccer is not the simple result of German efficiency and discipline, but an almost serendipitous fact considering all the inefficient squabbling. One also has to consider the cultural context to understand the significance of the 1954 victory. While more talented National teams emerged in the 1970s, the 1954 squad remains an dreamlike epic or untouchable standard within the historical context of the rebuilding of a disgraced nation. I'd always thought Schoen would be recognized as the greatest German coach, yet in surveys I'd read, some unfamiliar name to myself, Herberger, always beat Schoen out in polls. Although Bayern ends up being criticized heavily, the author carefully upends notions that in the 1970s Gladbach was a team of flair and creativity battling the stodgy and boring Bayern. I only wish the later chapters on the recent state of the game could be expanded as well as some writing on the emergence of German women playing the game. Finally, the author writes with a witty sarcastic tone that topples another cultural myth, in particular, that Germans have no sense of humor. I recommend the book to both fans and critics of German soccer, as both will be able to laugh at the many anecdotes of German exceptions to the efficiency stereotype.
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