Learn more Download now Shop now Shop now flip flip flip Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona vs Real Madrid
Format: Hardcover|Change
Price:£18.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 31 March 2016
Football is politics. And in certain cases it can be beautiful both despite politics and because of politics. The classic clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid is one of these matches; every time they play is a guarantee of fantastic football and politics. Sid Lowe's book describes the history of this rivalry, both in political and in football terms, but mostly, how they both have mingled to create a rivalry that today is followed by the entire world.
The rivalry is not only about historical facts, but also about myths: Barcelona sees itself as the righteous rebels against Franco's regime, while Real Madrid sees itself as a club of gentlemen and good football. But there are many more nuances to this history, as Sid Lowe so amply shows. For instance, during the civil war a Real Madrid president was in fact part of the anti-Franco Republican government, while Barcelona, after having competed during the civil war (contrary to Real Madrid, as the city was under siege), became the dominant team in Spain immediately after the war. Real Madrid was from the 1950s largely run by a pro-government president, Santiago Barnabeu, who led the way in making them the best team in the world in the 1960s, ahead of a Barcelona side that constantly saw a conspiracy behind Real Madrid's success. This is mostly showed by the myth that Alfredo Di Stefano was “stolen” from them, while it rather appears that they were less smart than Real Madrid in a complex negotiation involving clubs in Argentina and Colombia.
The rivalry changed and evolved with Spanish history, and this is fantastically described in the book. The transition up to and after Franco's death is very interesting, when Johan Cruyff went to Barcelona as a player, and a new period of rivalry started. In football terms during the 1980s and 1990s the rivalry became the best in the world, with the best players in the world having played for either club. The list is simply amazing when one sees the players that have gone through either (or both in many cases!): Paul Breitner, Gary Lineker, Hugo Sanchez, Diego Maradona, Ronaldo, Hristo Stoichkov, Emilio Butragueno, Michael Laudrup, Zinedine Zidane, Ronald Koeman, Raul, Romario, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo.... etc... The book has fantastic interviews with many of these players!
In the 1990s Johan Cruyff, now as coach put the foundation for what made the great Barcelona of the 2000s. In an attempt to be as good as FC Barcelona, Real Madrid's president, Florentino Perez, was instrumental in wanting to create a global brand spending millions on the best players in the world. In all, the 2000s became a period of rivalry defined by the best football in the world, money, and not least politics, as FC Barcelona continues to be an entry point of a growing Catalan nationalism demanding independence from Spain (the book starts with a highly politicized game of 2012 when thousands of fans in Barcelona shouted for independence during the match).
In this regard, the clashes are as political as ever, but at the same time the match has become a global affair: the best footballers in the world facing one another in a match that is never insignificant, but a final every time. The teams are completely dominating in Spain, and their high class also makes them among the best teams in Europe (in since 2000 Real Madrid and FC Barcelona have won three and four Champions League respectively) and surely in the world.
Sid Lowe is an English journalist, and that gives the book strength, as he does not take sides in what is a rivalry full of bitterness and myths, something that is surely difficult. Many fanatical fans of either Real Madrid or Barcelona are probably not going to like the book as he tries to demystify some of their stories.
In the end, one realises that these two teams need one another. They would not be able to define themselves without that rivalry, which has surely pushed them to always be better, until now them being both the best. It is a perfect symbiosis of opposites that has given us some of the best football we can wish for.
Any football fan should love this rivalry, and there is no better book to understand it.
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 25 May 2014
I am a filipina from the Philippines and my fiance is currently living in UK who is also a British. My fiance is a very sports enthusiast especially in football. In the Philippines, basketball is the most popular sports, even so, I am not a very sports person so I am not good in conversing with my fiance about sports, about football. I am trying to learn it but it's hard and I want my fiance to know that I still love listening to his sports stories even if I do not have any idea at all. I never wanted my fiance to think that I am not interested with sports, and I know that every thing about sports will make him happy. Recently I have been seeing his tweets about Atletico Madrd and Barcelona and all about La liga stuff in Spain, so I searched and I found this book. I know that he will really love it, I didn't hesistate to purchase it and it was delivered to perfectly within estimated date. My fiance opened the package the day of our anniversary and posted on facebook how happy he is, telling his facebook peeps that he has the best woman ever. I asked him how it was and he loves the content as it also includes history :) I am so happy that he loves it.

If your partner is a sports enthusiast, I would defo recommend it!!! Great book, good content and very informative.
7 people found this helpful
|11 Comment|Report abuse
on 13 November 2013
This is a truly wonderful book that is beautifully written, meticulously researched and benefits from interviews with a vast number of relevant people : players, coaches, directors, physios and even a cemetery caretaker.
But it's not just about football : it puts these two huge clubs in the context of Spanish history, society , culture and politics and in doing so exposes the myths about the Barca Madrid rivalry as well as uncovering the reality of their interdependent stories.
Read it, enjoy the often hilarious inside stories, and understand a hugely important component of Spain.
7 people found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 7 August 2014
This is a well written account of the rivalry between Barca and Real Madrid. It fleshes out the whole story, giving lie to some beliefs about the forces at play behind their successes in Spain and Europe as well as giving a complete account of how the rivalry developed into more than just a sporting one. I found it a bit long but It's hard to say that any of it could have been left out either. My final thoughts would have to be that if you wanted a conclusive take on the history of this rivalry, I can't see how you would get a better account than this. It is written very well by a man who clearly knows the rivalry and Spanish football inside out. If you want to be educated, this is the book for you.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 20 November 2014
I have always enjoyed Sid Lowe's excellent Spanish articles on Spanish football, and he doesn't disappoint with this book.

It is thoroughly well researched, and beautifully crafted. Lowe also busts a lot of myths, and put the clubs rivalry in context. The historical aspect, particularly around the Spanish Civil War and Franco's dictatorship, was fascinating, and helped shaped these clubs politically.

The ending of the book felt a little more rushed, and I would have liked to read a little into Lowe's insight of present day Real and Barca. However, there is a lot of that material out there, and the book was very long as it is.

Overall, a wonderfully researched book, beautifully thought out and crafted. It is a rarity that a book about these two football giants does not contain some bias- but Lowe avoids this expertly, and presents the history of both clubs equally, impartially, and passionately.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 6 January 2016
A thoroughly researched and well written commentary on Spain over the period of Franco, post Franco and the respective highs and lows of two great clubs. The book is not biased towards any club or any regime and tells the history from both clubs perspectives. This is one of the finest, if not the finest, football book I have read.
2 people found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 9 August 2015
Read this book whilst on holiday in Barcelona, couldn't put it down.
For barca and Madrid it's more than football, it's politics and ideologys.
Their story is so intertwined it's untrue. Without barca there is no Madrid. Without Madrid there is no Barca.
This book is a must read for anyone interested in football or Spanish/Catalan cultures.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 6 August 2015
An excellent piece of history writing, Lowe excavates many of the myths that surround the rivalry between these two clubs. The early chapters on the experiences of Barcelona and Real Madrid during the Civil War and the Franco era are particularly good. Throughout the book, Lowe offers vivid detail, amusing anecdotes, and good analysis. One topic that was not covered was the fan culture - the story is mainly told from the point of view of the clubs and their leading stars and administrators. Anyway, it is a terrific read and I learned a lot about the two cities as well as the clubs.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 1 October 2017
so many books about spanish football these days, but this is a very good recap of the main rivalry.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 17 April 2014
A really well written and very interesting and informative read for anyone who enjoys the La Liga rivalry of these two teams and wants to learn more about the history of the two clubs. Very well done to Sid Lowe for producing such an informative and interesting book.
|0Comment|Report abuse