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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
34
4.2 out of 5 stars


VINE VOICEon 14 October 2009
Author Ian Hawkey certainly knows his subject matter better than most. Long term African football correspondent for The Times, Hawkey uses his deep knowledge and insight to reveal a rich brew of chaos and raw talent which seems to sum up African Football. Hawkey explains why African national and club sides prefer 'white witch doctors' coaches to home grown coaches and why management is such a merry go round. For young kids in Africa,Europe is the dream from as soon as they can kick a ball and European teams from France and Spain have even set up their own academies and club sides in Africa. The exodus grows by the year but often the fairytale is tinged with the cruel reality of unscrupulous clubs and agents exploiting young talent.
Naturally with this being Africa,corruption and chaotic mismanagement is never far from the surface, even within the better run national and club sides.
Interestingly, I was considering the English EPL side I support and realised that it had four African players in its line up. Unheard of even ten years ago !
Our of the chaos of African football there is the rich pool of talent which will continue to be plundered by rich European clubs indefinitely.
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VINE VOICEon 2 October 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
With the first World Cup to be staged in Africa less than twelve months away anybody wanting to learn about the evolution of football in that continent would be well advised to read this book.

It is subtitled `the story of African football' and that accurately sums up the book. It is a well researched, in depth look at African football that will tell the reader just about everything they could wish to know. There can be no doubt that its author, Ian Hawkey, is a major authority on African football, possessing a vast knowledge that he attempts to pass on in this book.

Unfortunately it is written in a scholarly style which is rather dull. It is not a book that will entertain; I found it hard work to get through, and was ready to give up on it a number of times. It is a long book, packed with information. To make such a book more readable it requires sections of it to be written with a lighter touch - a spoonful of sugar to help digest the medicine - but this book doesn't have that, it is exclusively dour.

When I think of African football I think of flair and colour, two things that are sadly absent from this book.
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VINE VOICEon 14 October 2009
Had I not spent some time in Cape Town and seen the new stadium building in preparation I would never have read this book. I had some background about South Africa and the awe in which football/footballers are held and Hawkey treads the two dimensions in this gem of a book with panache,draws the threads of both together and the importance of football as a national sport is developed brilliantly. Written with enthusiasm, crafted with skill so that the reader is able to comprehend the significance of this sport and its role in the history of the country. Coca Cola has only ever changed its colours once - for a South African club whose colours happen to be the colours of Coca Cola. The football club was not going to change its colours so Coca Cola had little choice. That is the importance of football in this dynamic and troubled country and Hawkey captures it all.
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VINE VOICEon 28 August 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
What a great read this book is ranging through much of Africa's footballing history and bringing it up to date by outlining the challenges that the great European leagues have brought to domestic club football in Africa. Totally free of the well worn soccer cliches that we see and hear every day in our media this is a "proper" writer at work. I thought I knew quite a bit about how the sport had developed in Africa but this book has filled in many gaps and given me greater insight into both the social and sporting effects it has had. Occassionally I would have liked to have seen some passages developed further but it is a big topic and I understand why the author has not been able to spend more time on them.
If you are interested to learn more about the "trade routes" that have brought great African players to Europe as well as the dangers it all poses to that continent's domestic leagues, this is a fine way to understand.
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VINE VOICEon 17 November 2009
With the upcoming World Cup in Africa in 2010, this book by Ian Hawkey is a change for football fans to read about the history of football in Africa. The writer looks at many individual teams and also considers issues including apartheid in South Africa and corruption that has affected the game. It is not a particularly complex study and would appeal more to fans of the game than those with an interest in Africa.
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VINE VOICEon 9 October 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The writer traces the history of African football across the continent from the perspective of a variety of clubs and areas. The writer's knowledge and passion for the game shone through and the book documents the growing importance of Africa and it's players to the football world over recent years.This book is highly reccomeneded and a worthy addition to any fan's library
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VINE VOICEon 11 October 2009
A series of essays examining aspects of football in different African states whilst developing an underlying theme of the development of the beautiful game on the dark continent. Stands up against Simon Kuper's 'Football against the Enemy' against which no greater compliment can be laid.
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VINE VOICEon 23 December 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the kind of book to buy the football obsessed man in your life - it's a little different, showing the power of football to reunite groups of people divided by terrible ethnic conflict. Even I liked it, and I hate watching football games!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 25 September 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There's a book in here somewhere, except that between them the author and the publishers have done a very effective job of smothering it. This is a great pity, because Ian Hawkey is a respected and knowledgeable authority on football (American readers please read 'soccer' passim) and he writes well. There is any amount of valuable information and insightful commentary here, Hawkey's love of the sport is patent, nostalgia specialists will find much to their heart's desire, and of course the topic is becoming - how can one put it - more, er, topical with the next World Cup scheduled to be held in South Africa in 2010.

The first glance is daunting. What you will find is 300-odd pages of smallish print and nary a photo plate from start to finish. What were they all thinking? What sort of public did they expect the book to appeal to? The nostalgia public will certainly love some of the descriptions of games of yore, but the nostalgic population crave photographic reminders. If they want to relive such-and-such a match or part of a match they are going to have a job finding the bit they want, or they are just going to have to settle down to the task of reading the book from start to finish, which is what I did. They may get some help from the chapter headings, but these are `literary' and stylish rather than plain index-headings. Also, the narrative is only very roughly chronological, so that is only an approximate guide too.

If more common sense had been shown in the presentation I might not have felt so strongly that the book is overloaded with detail, but I think I would have thought that to a certain extent even if the layout had been brilliant. The total effect, with the crowded pages of small lettering and the rather rambling narrative, is oddly suggestive of muttering in print. The narration suffers, I think, from lack of a clear idea what it is all about. I tried to discern a theme to each chapter from the chapter's title, and you may have more success with that than I had, but I couldn't shake off the impression that the author went in pursuit of every hare he started, whatever the supposed theme was. There are accounts of matches and incidents within matches, and there are admiring profiles of certain players, particularly Roger Milla but also more recent superstars like Eto'o. Sometimes the focus is strictly on the game, at other times it is political, and understandably so when the Algerian war of independence and the end of apartheid in South Africa come up in the frame. The various tales are all very well told, and in particular the story of the air crash that wiped out the Zambian team is riveting. There is a thoughtful Epilogue that says good things too, but this epilogue has the impossible challenge of summarising what there is no way of summarising.

The best way of reading this book may be to take it a chapter at a time, not necessarily in the author's sequence but just as your own fancy takes you. It is all good quality stuff, I certainly do not wish to dispute. Read solemnly from start to finish, the way I read it, the book is heavier going than I feel it ought to be. What it really needs is fairly drastic pruning and rewriting. Short of that, please reprint it in a decent typeface and sling in a few photographs. Please.
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on 14 July 2012
A very good read. It gives a broad view of African football and the background to some of its best and worst moments.
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