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The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football Hardcover – 28 Sep 2006
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In this extraordinary tour de force of a book, David Goldblatt describes the rise of football, from a chaotic folk ritual to a sector of the global-entertainment industry. It's the story of players and managers, fans and owners, clubs and national teams; a chronicle of who won and who lost. But it's also a history of states and markets, money and power. And, above all, how all these forces interact. It is a history which attempts to locate where the line between the realm of glory and the realm of power has been crossed, that celebrates the love of the game, but knows that it can be bought. Thus the book describes and accounts for the careers of Pele and Maradona, Puskas and George Best; the histories of the Wunderteam and the incomparable Hungarians, the anti-futbol of Estudiantes de la Plata and the futbol arte of Brazil 1970. It explores the cultural meanings and political uses of football in Peron's Argentina, Adenauer's West Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union and Mussolini's Italy.It ranges from the postcolonial politics of African football to the manufacturing history of the football boot; from the history of stadium architecture to the architecture of power in global football's leading institutions.
About the Author
David Goldblatt was born in London in 1965 and inherited, for his sins, Tottenham Hotspurs from his father. He has flirted with and abandoned careers in medicine, stand-up comedy, broadcasting, politics and academia. In previous lives he has published amongst other books, Social Theory and the Environment, Global Transformations and the World Football Yearbook. In this life he has been lucky enough to put them all together.
He currently lives in Bristol, the Bermuda triangle of footballing prowess, where he spreads his affections amongst Spurs, Bristol Rovers and Bristol City.
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It is very informative and I particularly enjoyed reading about the early beginnings of professional football in the UK and Europe. It was quite disheartening to read about the state of the game in South America and the terrible corruption that has plagued the game and as expected African football is no different.
I think David gives a fair assessment throughout and isn't afraid to point fingers where they need pointing I do however think his style is often too deep, over the top and self-indulgent as if he is trying to be too clever for his own good. Maybe that is my lack of understanding and knowledge but it spoiled an otherwise excellent read for me and I think it may be a problem for many other readers interested in the subject matter.
There are a few points, for example when you're on the third page of reading about the Peruvian League in the 1920s, when you might pause to wonder about how much you truly love football. But if you're also interested in history and other countries generally, you'll get through it.
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