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Behind the Curtain: Travels in Eastern European Football Paperback – November 1, 2006


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Behind the Curtain: Travels in Eastern European Football + Inverting The Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics + The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752879456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752879451
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 6.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #697,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

With style and erudition, [Wilson] proves that football is a metaphor, an allegory, and much more than just a game THE TIMES Enlightening THE SCOTSMAN

About the Author

Jonathan Wilson is the soccer correspondent for the Financial Times.

More About the Author

Jonathan Wilson is the Football Correspondent of the Financial Times and author of the critically acclaimed 'Behind the Curtain: Football in Eastern Europe' and 'Inverting the Pyramid'. Coming in time for the 2010 World Cup is 'The Anatomy of England', an in-depth look at ten crucial games that shaped England.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brian Maitland on September 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
Simply a superb soccer book. It's not just the "big" nations that the author looks at nor are they the most interesting. By delving into such places as Bosnia-Hercegovina, Armenia, Azerbaijin as well as the big boys of Russia, Croatia and Romania we get a truly complete picture on the state of the game both from a historical perspective but with a firm eye on the present and future.

It's so enjoyable to learn a nugget like the "Russian" linesman Tofik Bakhramov who confirmed that England's third goal in the 1966 World Cup Final did cross the line has the national stadium named after him in his native Azerbaijan. The book is filled with these and they are not just thrown in as trivia asides but are investigated and explained in entertaining details.

Here's hoping author Jonathan Wilson is working on a followup as this subject has so many more stories I'm sure to tell even as thorough a job as he did on this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Charlie Bartel on July 28, 2013
Format: Paperback
There is an exciting new generation of Football writers. Men like Gabe Marcotti, Simon Kuiper, and JONATHAN WILSON. WISON wrote THE definitve book on the history of Football Tactics called INVERTING THE PYRAMID. In this book WILSON introduces you to 3 Russian coaches, BORIS ARKADIEV, VICTOR MASLOW, and VALERI LOBANOVSKY for their groundbreaking theories about how Football should be played. At once WILSON was teaching more about Russian/Soviet Football than I had ever known. But where did the knowledge come from?

In BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN, WILSON reveals that his English family used to vacation behind the old Iron Curtain (why?). And those holidays opened WILSON"S eyes to the different ways Football was being played. He also made contacts enabling him to travel relatively freely from country to country behind the "curtain." This became the background of BEHIND THE CURTAIN.

WILSON takes the reader on a travelogue of the crumbling Soviet Empire. Where there was once glitter and propaganda, after the fall of the wall there is now decay and dis-illusionment. And the football of the region did not escape the rot. Consider Hungary. Unbeaten from 1950 through the Championship match of the 1954 World Cup, and then another long unbeaten run until the Soviet invasion in 1956. Some of the game's greatest players like Nandor Hidegutki, Josef Boszik, Sandor Kocsis, and the incomparable Ferenc Puskas were Hungarian stars. They were The Aranyscsapat (The Golden Team). But when the players scattered across Europe the gold lost it's luster and Hungarian football decayed even faster than the county's infrastructure.

Or take the case of Russia's Edouard Steltsov. At 17 he appeared on the horizon as the game's next great superstar (like another 17 year old, Pele).
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven E. Brown on November 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is my favorite soccer book I've read. Part travelogue, part history and politics, and part sport, in 'Behind the Curtain' Jonathan Wilson travels through Eastern Europe and explores the people, the cultures, and the problems via the lens of football. Whether he is sharing a drink with former guerrillas in Belgrade, or traveling the back roads of Armenia, Wilson's book is enthralling and I couldn't put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alex McCoy on February 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is yet another of the great works by J. Wilson. It is definately not a mass-public book, but the soccer fan who likes to read about soccer in different parts of the world will be well-rewarded. Some of the countries he discusses are so different than what we think of when we think of European football that it is a real culture shock. However, the book makes you actually want to take and interest in Eastern European football, or to even see a game from the earth enbanked and rail-road ties recycled seats in some really, really poor places. An enjoyable read from a master of the genre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kerem Gokmen on March 19, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Behind the Curtain: Travels in Eastern European Football

For those who want to know the history behind Balkan & Russian football this is a must read. Every region in Europe needs a book of this nature, though with the rich history of the likes of Hungary & Ukraine this is a read of another level.
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Viewed as a collection of unrelated stories on the same topic (triumph and tragedy in the football cultures of former Soviet republics), this book succeeds. It is not a tight continuous narrative, though. This makes for good airplane or beach reading. Take a country's chapter, read it on a short flight, and you can pick up a few weeks later with another country if you like.

It is also a vivid depiction of these places and the people who inhabit them, which is a nice bonus in a football book. There have been some real personalities over the years.

I recommend Behind the Curtain if you enjoy learning about this part of the world and if you like reading stories about football or sports in general.
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