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on 31 December 2000
Jimmy Burns explains just how FC Barcelona has become the symbol of the Catalan nation. Burns takes the reader on a crash course through twentieth-century Spanish history and leaves the reader in no doubt that FC Barcelona enjoys a local status far removed from most clubs. This book is well worth a read, and will appeal to general football lovers as well as people interested in twentieth-century Spain.
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on 13 January 2009
As in his previous book, about Diego Maradona, Jimmy Burns has succeeded in selecting a subject which is fascinating both on and off the pitch and again the author's painstaking and meticulous research has paid dividends. Whether recounting heroics on the Nou Camp playing surface or conspiracy theories in its corridors of power, Burns has done an admirable job of piecing together the labyrinthine politics and history of Barca.

Barca - A People's Passion traces the club from its foundation by the English brothers Arthur and Ernest Witty and patriarch, Swiss businessman Joan Gampart and early games on waste ground to its current position as one of the biggest football clubs in the world. Along the way we are entertained by myriad fascinating tales involving some of the biggest names in football - Samitier, Kubala, Cruyff, Maradona, Michels, Lineker, Venables, Van Gaal, Robson, Rivaldo, Figo, the list of alumni is impressive to say the least, and collectively they produce a plethora of tales from both on and off the pitch. Burns has compiled an impressive list of interviewees to give their own perspective of Barca, giving the book real insight into life at the Camp Nou.

Despite this, the most absorbing part of Barca's history comes from its prominent role in Catalonian life and the consequently chequered relationship it enjoys with both its own fan base and the rest of Spain. This is most evident during the Spanish Civil War and Franco years, when despite a pro-regime board, the Camp Nou became the focal point for resistance to Franco and a rallying point for Catalan identity and national pride. It was also the time that spawned paranoia and conspiracy theories from di Stefano's transfer saga to claims of official bias and outright match-fixing. It is also intriguing to see the dilemma of fans and board members, maintaining the identity of the club while competing on a European stage.

Barca - A People's Passion works from several perspectives, as a history of a football club and also of a wider social and political history. The book is also an intriguing glimpse into the running and machinations behind the transfers, the team and the finances of a 'big club'. More than that though, as the title of the book suggests it's a study of what drives fans to support their team despite the cost in time and money, in the face of mistreatment by their own club and outside forces. Also, what makes a football team uniquely owned and defined by its supporters - come what may. Anyone interested in any of these themes will definitely find Barca - A People's Passion an engrossing read.
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on 19 December 2001
Football Club Barcelona is much more than just a soccer club. It is the personal identity of the Catalan people, their pride and glory. The book by Jimmy Burns is a guide throught the history of Barca and shows why and how a small club has become one of the most popular clubs in Europe and not only, but what is more important, the author tries to analyze what it is for the Catalan people. The beautiful language and style will leave nobody untouched. Whether you are a football fan or not, this book will make you cry and laugh.
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on 7 January 2000
This book is NOT an 'official' history of the greatest sporting club ever to exist - its much more intresting than that! A tantalizingly comprehensive historical account spanning over 100 years of why culturally and politically Barca is the most important and unique club in the world. The shocking incidents, the profound, sometimes monstrous personalities, the storms generated by the mixture of it all make this one compelling read. From the founder Hans Gamper, a Swiss who committed suicide, to the cloak and dagger 'capture' of Ladislav Kubala, to the accession of Johan Cruyff - a far greater success as a coach at Camp Nou than as a player - the club's history is steeped in drama. Maradona, Ronaldo, Rivaldo need no introduction. You get the feeling Jimmy Burns really does have a passion for the club, but this is compromised by a meandering and sometimes confused 70 page openning to the book - which I suggest you leave until last. CONCLUSION - A excellent, superb book for all football fans alike, and anyone who an intrest for history. An enjoyable read for everyone else.
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on 9 March 2000
Barca: A people's passion
With a motto like "Mes que un club"("more than a club" in Catalan) it was always going to be a difficult task for Jimmy Burns when he undertook the project to charter the history of F.C Barcelona, one of, if not the biggest football club in the world. Burns previous work, the critically acclaimed Hand of God: The life of Diego Maradona, chartered the life of a great enigma and now, perhaps buoyed by this success, he has moved on to another great enigma, Barcelona.
The book is effectively sectioned into two parts; the main section where Burns takes the reader on a chronological journey from Barcelona's foundation in 1899 to the present day, and the short initial section where he recounts his travels with the "cules", the young, often fanatical element of the Barcelona fans to Madrid, Valencia and Manchester. As an opening to what is in essence a history book, this travelog gives the reader an opportunity to experience what being a Barcelona fan is all about.
Research-wise, Burns cannot be faulted, as the book features interviews with everybody from lowly bootboys and fans to the various presidents of the club, including current head José Luis Nuñez. He is thorough to the last even in his coverage of the civil war period when many club and official state records were lost; for example, who outside Spain would have known that Barcelona once had an Irish manager! (Patrick O'Connell 1935-6). F.C Barcelona is indeed "mes que un club", and if there is anything that this book does to perfection it is the emphasis of this fact. The inextricable links that the club has and had with Catalonian nationalism, the way in which the colours of Barcelona were used to express dissention at the Francoist regime, and the sheer fanaticism of the fans are all well documented here. However, where Barca lets itself down is in the feature that makes Burns's work so commendable in the first place. In his efforts to give the period of say, 1910 to 1920, equal importance and coverage as the period 1989 to 1999, Burns alienates the casual reader, for whom anything before the era of Venables, Cruyff and Robson is simply irrelevant.
Yet it is difficult to understand why Barca is not a more engaging book. It is full of little insights, small details that would normally set such a book apart from its counterparts. Maybe it is the overbearing positivity with which Burns treats all things Barcelona, and the anti-establishment, anti-Madrid sentiment which is seen on almost every page.
The blue and red melting pot of communism, fascism and socialism along with every other political leaning in the world mixed with a bit of football that is Barcelona seems unsure of what it is, and so does Burns's work. It is not a football book; it is more of a history journal interspersed with tales of great matches of the past. As such, it should be of great interest to Barcelona fans but it left me, a huge Spanish football fan, bizarrely cold, uninspired by a subject which I had thought would fascinate.
Buy this book if you question why, for Barcelona, winning everything is never enough. Buy it if you do not understand why even winning teams must contain Catalan nationals such as Pep Guardiola. However, it is heavy going, and if all you want to read about is Ronaldo and Rivaldo, books such as Bobby Robson's Year in Barcelona by Jeff King are a better bet.
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VINE VOICEon 3 August 2014
This is an excellent account of the history of one of world football's most famous clubs, FC Barcelona. In it, Burns shows in great detail how sport, politics, business and culture interact. While on-field activity receives due attention, with detailed accounts of many of Barca's most famous players and matches, off-field events are given at least as much, if not more, coverage. Burns unpicks the complicated position of Barcelona in Catalan identity, and how this has affected the club and its leaders throughout its long history. Hardly a run-of-the-mill football book, this is a great read for anyone interested in how sport relates to culture more widely.
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on 14 September 2014
This reads as a passion. Mr Burns does a good job in exposing the layers of the football club and the glorious range of characters who laced up their boots to turn out for the Barca; the grounding for the fierce rivalry with Real Madrid; and Catalonian politics within and locked out of the club. But like with my team the Toon, it is the fans, the fans, the fans. Who followed with a passion which is bigger than football. This Mr Burns has chronicled with love and admiration. Look forward to the updated book on the Messi era.
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on 10 December 2008
Great insight into one of the biggest clubs in the world. Burns certainly knows his stuff as the book is packed with interesting details from the beginning of the club right through to the modern day.

I now know why the rivalry between Barca and Real Madrid is so fierce, why there have been a number of English managers in charge and why there is such a close link between the club and the people.
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on 22 August 2011
Not a lot to add, just to echo that this is as much a history of 20th century Spain as one of Barca, especially with reference to the civil war and its aftermath, and the political differences behind the bitter Barca-Real rivalry. Very interesting, particularly for someone with personal connections to the still ongoing Francoist/Republican struggle - more subtle now but still there.
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on 23 August 2010
This was a well written and easy to read account of all I ever wanted to know about Barcelona Football Club. Made all the information about the recent election of President fall into place. I love the football they play, want to go back to that lovely city and its people, and am happy that I know a little more about the club and its history than when I went the first time.
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