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Africa United: Soccer, Passion, Politics, and the First World Cup in Africa Paperback – May 11, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Bloomfield’s book presents the perfect contextual backdrop for understanding how football intersects with everyday life, politics, and national identities in this part of the world.” (Newsweek)

“[T]he author relates what soccer means in nations where poverty and danger go hand-in-hand. The result is a highly charged read at least as much about politics as soccer. Highly recommended.” (Library Journal)

“A journalist’s continental odyssey. … it’s a brave journey - Bloomfield should never have taken that old Russian aircraft in Sierra Leone - and carries us to countries most of us will never see. The highlight, a beautiful piece of writing, is Bloomfield’s visit to Mogadishu, the wrecked yet splendid Somali capital.” (Financial Times)

“This is a fascinating account of how football lies at the very heart of African consciousness....The insights that Bloomfield has gleaned as The Independent’s Africa correspondent shine through in the perfect balance of passionate prose and informed accounts of key moments both on and off the pitch.” (Waterstones.com)

[Africa United] is an excellent book and offers a fascinating introduction to thirteen national African teams.” (About.com)

From the Back Cover

Africa United is the story of modern-day Africa told through its soccer. Traveling across thirteen countries, from Cairo to the Cape, Steve Bloomfield meets players and fans, politicians and rebel leaders, discovering the role that soccer has played in shaping the continent. He recounts how soccer has helped to stoke conflicts and end wars, bring countries together and prop up authoritarian regimes.

A lively and elegantly reported travelogue, Africa United calls attention to the amazing relationships between people and soccer, and to the state of Africa on the cusp of the biggest moment in its sporting history, the 2010 World Cup.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 299 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (May 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061984957
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061984952
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #928,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Fascinating travelogue about Africa and its relationship to soccer. While Bloomfield neglects some important football-playing nations, such as Cameroon and Ghana, his attention to some of Africa's minnows is commendable. He also includes first-hand accounts of national and club-team matches, presenting a multifaceted study of soccer in ten African nations.
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My impression of Africa United was that throughout Africa’s history, there has been an everlasting co-existence between politics and soccer. Soccer has brought Africa together in many ways that politics couldn’t do. Soccer has also helped fund many different things in economies and politics because it proves to be a large intake of money every time a game is held. My impression of the book was also influenced by the fact that many kids put aside school work to be star soccer players. At an early age, children see that soccer can fulfill their wildest dreams and can help them excel at life. This could lead to a decrease in education, but an increase in the enrollment in soccer academies. Enrollment in soccer and academics is a better decision than drugs, crime, or war. My impression overall was that soccer is an amazing thing in Africa and that it can help heal anything.

Steven Bloomfield’s style of writing was very unique and informative. The way that he writes lets you see all that he sees and all that he experiences. Sometimes, I felt that I was interviewing soccer players and coaches with him. He can have you feeling contempt and at ease at one point when he is discussing soccer, and at the next point he can have you on the edge of your seat, waiting to see if the armed guard is friendly or not. He also showed compassion through his writing when he writes about the love that people show towards to soccer. That kind of compassion is also shown when he talks about a battle being called off because there was a soccer game on TV. Steven Bloomfield is a great writer and his writing kept me engaged throughout the whole book.
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Format: Paperback
In Africa United, Steve Bloomfield, a Kenya-based news correspondent, travels around Africa in search of connections between the continent of Africa and the world's (except for the USA) favorite sport. The impetus for this book came about upon the announcement of South Africa as the host nation of the FIFA World Cup in 2010. After narrowly losing the bid for 2006, South Africa rallied to become the first African nation to host the World Cup, a feat for a continent which has yet to host a major international sporting event, such as the Olympics. This sparked a movement across South Africa and the rest of the continent as a "unified Africa," fueling an already fervent love for the sport among Africans.

Steve Bloomfield starts from Egypt in his journey down the continent, through some of the "best and worst" teams in Africa - Sudan, Chad, Somalia, Kenya, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Cote D'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Zimbabwe - before arriving in South Africa at the beginning of the World Cup. Bloomfield notes that he couldn't cover all the countries of Africa in his introduction, but oddly enough, his "best and worst" happened to omit three of the six African teams who qualified for the World Cup; Cameroon, Algeria, and Ghana, leaving me to question his judgment of "best and worst" - aren't these three countries among the "best," who qualified in the same way that Cote D'Ivoire and Nigeria did?

Read more about my review here: http://wp.me/p3Aqzs-ch
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Format: Paperback
Very definitely worth picking up for any soccer literati fan. The subtitle pretty much sums it all up. The author is an Aston Villa fan so it does help his perspective in understanding both the glory and struggles of African soccer nations.

Especially enjoyable is learning about how much power players have to affect change. Basically, Cote d'Ivoire and current Chelsea star Didier Drogba stops a war. I won't spoil it for those who want to read how he does that but it shows the power of sport to change society is alive and well in Africa...well, at least in West Africa it is.

The author gets into some of the lesser nations and it's a well-rounded book. Just don't expect it to encompass the ENTIRE continent. That's too much of a daunting task. Whether he focuses on the big events (World Cup 2010 in South Africa) or some pretty obscure rivalries (Sudan v. Chad), he makes the soccer scene really come alive.

Also, check out the author's blog for a taste of his writing style:
[...]
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Format: Paperback
This book does a very nice job at explaining how the issues seen throughout Africa can be resolved with the game of soccer, known internationally as football. Being someone that loves the game of soccer, this book definitely caught my eye and did not disappoint. All of Bloomfield's personal accounts and explanations were written in a way that I could fully understand and still enjoy. It was most interesting to see how soccer could be such a political escape for the people in areas such as Kenya, and how much the game brought people together.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone that loves sports, specifically soccer, and enjoys interesting explanations for the global world around us. Though I do wish that there weren't as many personal accounts from the author, all in all this is a solid book. Even if you are not the most avid reader like myself, I assure that you will find at least some interesting aspects in this book.
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