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Into The Arena: The World of the Spanish Bullfight by [Fiske-Harrison, Alexander]
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Into The Arena: The World of the Spanish Bullfight Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Length: 304 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

`Arguably the most engaging study of bullfighting ... since Hemingway's 'Death in the Afternoon' ... controversial, thought-provoking and highly recommended' --Jason Webster, author of 'Duende: A Journey In Search Of Flamenco'

`Bold, provocative and morally searching, Fiske-Harrison writes about the bizarre and arrogant world of bullfighting with passion and deep knowledge' --Michael Jacobs, author of 'Factory of Light: Life in an Andalucian Village'

"An informed piece of work." --Daily Mail, May 27, 2011

"An engrossing introduction to Spain's 'great feast of art and danger'." --Sunday Times, May 29, 2011

"An engrossing introduction to bullfighting." --Financial Times, June 4, 2011

"An informative and breathtaking volume of gonzo journalism." --The Herald (Scotland), May 27, 2011

Book Description

Shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2011

Alexander Fiske-Harrison has spent a year travelling with bullfighters to watch them work in the bullrings and ranches of Spain. Along the way he has entered the ring and ran with the bulls in Pamplona and trained with world famous matador Eduardo Dávila Miura and is on a personal quest to fight a bull in the ring with the aim of winning


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3424 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (26 May 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847654290
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847654298
  • ASIN: B005IYT9X2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #215,316 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One of the best I've read for a while - to be honest I was sad when I finished it. The difficult morality of the bullfight, combined with the history and the otherworldliness of this Spanish art make this book a great read. In trying to ape Hemingway, Alexander Fiske-Harrison has "done the thing" and managed to create an intriguing, readable and generally excellent book.
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By Nutmeg on 4 July 2011
Format: Paperback
Condemn bullfighting if you must but read this book first and at least it will be a qualified judgement!
The British author has lived amongst the toreros, bull breeders and aficionados in Spain and his insight into this closed and alien world is at once enlightening, exciting and disturbing. Opponents of the spectacle will find a remarkably balanced argument for and against presented with a host of facts and statistics which cannot fail to challenge any pre-conceptions. The author's ultimate test of his impressive resolve and raw courage is the final act of killing a 300kg bull in the ring after only limited training, albeit at the hands of some of the best exponents of the corrida currently on the circuit. This book entertains, shocks and undeniably demands a reaction from the reader. Scrupulously researched comparisons between ritual killing in the bullring and the beef farming alternative make for fascinating reading as does the detailed background description of the bull breeding infra structure which has shaped the very appearance of the terrain of vast tracts of rural Spain. Highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To state my position at the start, I'm neither hugely pro nor hugely anti-bullfighting and picked this book up following an interesting intereview with the author that I read in the papers. The interview led me to believe that this would be a thoughtful take on the whole concept of the bullfight, rather than hatchet job from the anti side or a hagiography of sequinned matadors on the pro side; and so it turned out to be.

Fiske-Harrison writes well and guides the reader through the moral maze progressively and entertainingly. I found his willingness to view the bullfight as the Spanish et al do, in order to understand it in its natural cultural context (as opposed to our highly unipolar media view here in the UK) interesting; after all we don't have bullfighting here so trying to explain it from a British perspective is an irrelevant exercise. It is the practitioners' and enthusiasts' view points that need understanding. Obviously, his decision to then step into the ring takes this to another level, the wisdom of which move one can argue in both directions. Whatever your view on the matter, this book will not only inform about a morally complicated issue, but will also entertain and recount some tales of derring do and adventure. It's not all weighty philosophy and the author enjoys himself.

Perhaps not for everyone, given it's a brutally honest account of the cruelty and attractions of bull fighting, but if you want to get under the skin of this still phenomenally popular activity, this book may well be the first and last book you need to read on the matter.

PS my position is still a bit equivocal post reading the book. I still don't really approve, but I certainly understand the sport's popularity a great deal more. Recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. AFH has an obvious privileged background and it shows with the apparent ease that AFH is adopted by and just seems to be accepted into the Spanish bullfighting fraternity, but fair play to the man for having the cojones to get in the ring with a bull and to run in Pamplona. Coincidentally, my first visit to Pamplona was the day in 2009 the guy from Madrid was killed by the bull cappuccino who I later saw killed in my first bullfight later that evening. I didn't run but I saw the aftermath. What a crazy town that is during San fermin.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Most of the books about bullfighting from the last 10-20 years - are written or photographed by quite old guys - like me.
Alexanders book is very fresh and very outspoken and very important - and I know it has recruited a lot of new english spoken aficionados already.
If you are curious - please read this book - and you will have a new adventures world - and many vibrant pleasant Spanish evenings ahead of you...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There is no way, in my view that this book can be compared to Hemingway's "Death in the Afternoon." "Into the Arena" is much slighter and lacks the intensity and passion of Hemingway's way of looking at bullfighting and through it Spain.
"Into the Arena" is part history, part analysis of the moral issues but mainly an account of the author's experiences as he meets bullfighters and tries to learn some elements of the art or craft - or whatever you like to call it. (It is certainly not a sport, so how this book was nominated for a sport's book prize is baffling.)
The book is very partial. The author's experience of Spain and los toros is seen mainly through the star-struck eyes of someone who rubs shoulders with the celebrity toreros and their staff, glowing everytime he receives a text message or abrazo from one of them, and so there is a complete lack of contact with the "ordinary" Spanish people and culture - in complete contrast to E.H.
I did not feel that Fiske-Harrison really got under the skin of Spain, but to be fair he probably wasn't trying to. There are some amusing, and disturbing, anecdotes in the book but, for me, there was too much ego and the prose style is flat and clumsy at times: "we stopped for a bite of lunch" - ""unbeknownst to us" - etc. And when he invokes the last brilliant and moving chapter of "Death in the Afternoon" he just reminded me of how intensely E.H. writes and thinks in comparison.
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