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Among the Thugs Paperback – June 1, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0679745358 ISBN-10: 0679745351 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (June 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679745351
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679745358
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The American-born editor of the British literary magazine Granta presents a horrifying, searing account of the young British men who turn soccer matches at home and abroad into battlegrounds and slaughterhouses. Buford, resident in England for the last 15 years, set out to get acquainted with these football supporters--as their fellow Britons call them in more measured moments--to learn what motivates their behavior. He discovered a group of violent, furiously nationalistic, xenophobic and racist young men, many employed in high-paying blue-collar jobs, who actively enjoy destroying property and hurting people, finding "absolute completeness" in the havoc they wreak. He also discerned strong elements of latent homosexuality in this destructive male bonding. Following his subjects from local matches to contests in Italy, Germany and Sardinia, Buford shows that they are the same wherever they go: pillaging soldiers fighting a self-created war.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Buford, a native of the United States, is the editor of the London-based literary magazine Granta . In 1982 he witnessed the takeover of a train, a football special, by English soccer thugs. He reveals how fascination for this distinctly English phenomenon of "soccer hooliganism" led him to follow a group of violent supporters of the Manchester United Red Devils. Buford is accepted into the group and in time seems to develop a sixth sense about impending violence or when things, in English parlance, are "going to go off." Particularly riveting is his account of the aftermath of a match in Turin, Italy, where 200 or so Manchester supporters marched through the ancient streets leaving fire and destruction in their wake. Buford's original theories on football violence, fraught with notions about disenfranchised youth and the frustration of the working class, are forever dashed. He concludes that the English working class is dead, and what remains is a culture so vapid that " . . . it pricks itself so that it has feeling, burns its flesh so that is has smell." Public and academic libraries should have this.
- Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Bill Buford was the fiction editor of the New Yorker for eight years, where he first came upon Walton Ford's work to illustrate some of the stories he published. He is now a New Yorker staff writer. He was also the founding editor of Granta and has written two books, Among the Thugs and Heat: An Amateur's Advantures as a Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany. He lives in New York City with his wife Jessica Green, and their two sons.

Customer Reviews

More of a sociology book, but has some very good stories.
Judge Leverich
It's certainly not an exploration of generalized crowd violence, but I do not think that it is meant to be.
Eric
I found the book fabulously entertaining and a great read.
Mr. Mambo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Fez Monkey on April 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Bill Buford, a naive American adrift in England, tackles a very dicey subject: Mob violence by English football fans. He starts out innocently enough, trying to find the allure, cause, nature, basis, and form of England's notorious football hooligans, but soon has difficulty separating himself from his subject matter.
As he relates his journey into the world of the yobs, we get a vivid picture of the people and the events, but no real glimpse into what is behind the football mob violence -- even after Buford spends most of the second half of the book trying to work it out. The only real insight were provided is that the mob becomes greater than the sum of its parts, and that there is a line where a person within the mob ceases to be an individual, and becomes a compnent of a greater organism.
However, questions such as why sporting crowds in the US, Canada, or other countries never reach the level of violence or mob mentality as seen in England are never addressed, nor are questions of why this sort of violent behavior seems to be limited to a very large degree to football (soccer) crowds. Of course, that subject is beyond the scope of any one book.
Still, the snapshot into the seedy world of NF members, jingoistic supporters, drunks and felons provided by Buford is entertaining, in a voyeuristic sort of way. Besides, unless you are intimately familiar with crowds at English, or any European, football matches, Buford's book is best if taken as a sort of superficial sociological travelogue, offering a glimpse into a strange land, complete with foreign customs, traditions, uniforms and etiquette.
Reading 'Thugs' won't provide too much enlightentment on sports violence or the psychology of mobs, but it will entertain. And with the coming Euro2000 tournament, reading this may prove timely, as well.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Diana Mivelli on April 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
When my friend recommended this book, I was skeptical. I didn't believe an American journalist could successfully infiltrate a gang of European football hooligans. I was introduced to the notoriety of hooligans when I attended a match in Turkey. There I witnessed 200 soldiers armed with assault rifles and riot gear, lined up behind the goalie. This severity made me believe what I'd heard about fans ending up trampled, stabbed, beaten, and killed in the aftermath of a match.

Starting with a few lukewarm leads, Bill Buford, a true journalist, is relentless. He transports the reader to England, Germany, and Italy as he tries to understand what fuels hooligans. You experience the helplessness of being caught in a body-crushing crowd, being ambushed by the brutal mobs after the match, and riding the fan-crammed trains. His characterizations are so vivid, you can almost smell the charged atmosphere in the streets and in the stadiums.

This book is about violence. The descriptions are fierce and don't let up. The history behind the European football fury is discussed. Even if you aren't a fan of football (better known to Americans as soccer), this book is an excellent read on the sociology of mob mentality. You become aware of what propels crowd violence and its devastating effects on the victim, whose only blunder might be unfortunate proximity and timing.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By jk1980 on August 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book and tore through it in three days. It really does capture how the working class of Britain has degenerated even as its standard of living has reached levels of comfort that would seem unimaginable a few decades back. There is something about the game of football that tends to drive working class males crazy in almost every country, from Argentina to China. The author does however lose steam in the middle of the book when he attempts to psychoanlayzie crowd behavior. Overall very good read
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 31, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I couldn't stop reading this. We went to a friends house and I sat and read this book in the corner (easily one of the most impolite things I have ever done, but there was no way in hell I was stopping reading). I lived in London in the late eighties, working between Highbury & Islington tube station and Arsenal's ground and can remember the shops and pubs closing early on Wednesdays if there was a game. I can also remember the warnings not to work late, etc. I never understood why until I read this book. These people were (are?) the cruelest, nastiest people alive, and Bill Buford deserves endless credit for the quality of this book.
One last thought, we often hear that it was the average person that served as the guards in concentration camps, etc., well after reading this book I think it is the thugs who are described here, not the average Joe - so I feel better about the rest of humanity.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Randy Menk on April 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
I, like Mr. Buford, lived as a priveleged American in London during the heydey of bootboys and hooligans in the early and mid 70's. I was a teenager and a wannabe-hooligan, too young (early teens) to be a real hooligan. I travelled extensively on the "football specials" to away games, among them a 1973 FA Cup semifinal at Hillsborough (scene of the 1996 disaster that ended standing on the terraces forever), and the danger of violence was expected and palpable. I recall a lovely spring day in Southampton where hooligans in motorcycle helmets roamed the streets smashing milk bottles on heads in a completely random fashion. Unlike some readers, I found his descriptions dead-on accurate. The discussion of crowd theory and when things change right before they "go off" was fascinating, as well as absolutely true. The part of the book I found odd was the change of opinion from wanting to study his topic to throwing up his hands and deciding there was nothing to study. What's the conclusion, or are there none? I am happy to report that those days are, for the most part, over. Having recently returned from England, the ticket pricing, and all-seater stadiums, have eliminated the hooligan mobs at football matches. the reason the hooligans rampage in continental Europe is because that's all that is left (there are still terraces in much of Europe). Domestically, many of the football venues described by Mr. Buford have been torn down or rebuilt as all-seater stadia.
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