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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 15 November 2007
This book moves from Africa to South America describing wars and coups and giving insights into the psyche of the people living there, explaining the situation and the reasons behind failures and disasters of 3rd world politicians. In his own words `The essence of the drama lies in the terrible material resistance that one encounters taking his first and second steps to the summit of power. Each one wants to do something good and begins to do it, and then sees, after a month, a year, 3 years, that it just isn't happening, that it is slipping away, that it is bogged down in sand. Everything is in the way: the centuries of backwardness, the primitive economy, the illiteracy, the religious fanaticism, the tribal blindness, the chronic hunger......the unemployment, the red ink.....the politician begins to push too hard. Helooks for a way out, through dictatorship. The dictatorship fathers an opposition. The opposition organises a coup.'

The title of the book refers to the war between Honduras and San Salvador, a war that started due to Mexican world cup qualifying football match 30 odd years ago between the 2 countries. The extent of the love of football and nationalism it engenders amongst poor people in these countries can only be rivalled by religeous fervour. A lesson indeed on how to get things out of proportion and although in the end these 2 countries were satisfied with the outcome let us all hope that meetings around a table will solve problems one day. Another part of the book describes Ryszard's dislike of desks and beaurocracy - this is very memorable. Many other interesting articles in this book and definately one for the collector of travel and world history books.
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on 29 November 2007
This one starts in Central America in 1969,with a description of a war between Honduras and El Salvador ostensiably sparked by a disputed play-off for the 1970 World Cup.Fascinating,as there isn't much about Central and South America in the rest of Kapuscinski's writing,at least that portion of it that has so far been translated into English.
The rest is Africa-Ghana,the Nigerian Civil War and other pointas around the continent.As always,his critical love of Africa and Africans shines through.
A minor quibble.I know this was probably translated by an American,but why not "The Football War"?Nobody outside North America or Australasia would ever refer to the sport as "soccer".I know,I'm nitpicking here.It's a grerat book,read it and enjoy.
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on 9 June 2007
This book holds a mirror to the life of one who has seen it all. It is a mixture of reportage, biography and reflection. The writing is bittersweet without being sentimental and the tone is moral but not preachy. Kapuscinski had unparalleled access to some of the most important events of the mid to late 20th Century, this came as a result of him being one of the only journalists from the Eastern Bloc to be allowed into parts of Africa and Latin America, and to witness first-hand an era of sweeping change and political turmoil. The main success of the book is the ability to convey moments of instant History, it seems like he is writing exactly as History is unfolding which makes it both interesting and exciting. The quick short sections of the book leave you trying to catch breath as another coup d'etat takes shape and another Dictator is deposed.

Anybody wanting to scratch below the surface of the end of the Colonial Era, African Nationhood and the rise of Nationalist movements in the Third World should read this book. Despite being a History book or at least a Memoir, the book is still relevant to contemporary issues in Africa and Central America.
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on 17 July 2007
The other reviews give you a basic outline so I'll just tell you why you need to read this book. Kapuscinski was one of the greatest reporters around and his books are considered masterpieces in the use of the Polish language. "The Soccer War" was my introduction to this amazing man and, though episodic, the book has its moments of sheer horror. There's that moment when, whilst at a political meeting, you realise that all those around you, baying for blood, only see the colour of your skin - not your nationality. There's the chaos in the Congo when whites are being pulled out into the streets to be beaten and you wonder how the hell you got here. Then there's the depressing reality of politics in a colony that has to grow up overnight. Kapuscinski was the fly in the ointment; a newsman from a non-colonial state who found himself watching the collapse of empires in Africa whilst at the same time confronting the politically correct taskmasters back home in Poland. You can't fail to be gripped by the book.
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on 7 April 2016
I was expecting this book to be an in-depth study of that particular conflict, but it was merely a short chapter in a book of other articles. Other than that, Kapuscinski's books are always a worthwhile read.
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on 18 May 2014
Wonderful insight into the ussr from the 60's to the era if gorbaciov. A view into less know places like Azerbaijan Kazakhstan Turkmenistan It helped me understand the problems Russia and Ukraine are now facing and it open my eyes to what Stalin did to millions of people. Shocking that people only speak about what hitler did. This guy was probably worse !!
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on 2 June 2013
The "Soccer War" provides more of the dazzling and vivid writing of Kapuscinski. His reporting from different conflicts across the 3rd world really was fascinating as many of them I was totally unaware of prior to reading his book. Kapuscinski doesn't have to describe the blood and guts of it all or embellish his writing to have an impact.
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on 5 May 2014
Superb book. It's organised into a range of different stories by chapter, a la 'In the Shadow of the Sun', but all of which take place in Latin America. My 2nd favorite Kapuscinski book
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on 12 March 2013
great writer, if you like this genre go get it..not sure how he lived so long as he spendt so much time in dangerous parts of the world.
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on 28 May 2013
One of my favourite polish author. Recently I introduced Ryszard Kapuscinski to my english boyfriend and he absolutly loves his books!
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