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Bloody Confused!: A Clueless American Sportswriter Seeks Solace in English Soccer Paperback – August 5, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the throes of becoming jaded and cynical about the American sportswriting scene, Culpepper, a London-based Los Angeles Times journalist covering European sporting events, writes about the internationally known Premiership soccer league and its overzealous fans. The rough-and tumble British soccer sport quickly captivates Culpepper, who wrote on American sports for 15 years, as he learns the rivalries between the fans and teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Portsmouth. A humorist of sorts, he can't help making snide comparisons between the rowdy, cheering British fans and their more somber American brethren, while touting the emotional high of regional pride over big team profits. He falls under the spell of the struggling Portsmouth squad, realizing that the die-hard fans live and die with the fortunes of their players and teams, describing vivid action scenes as thrilling as any in American hockey or football. (Aug.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Veteran sportswriter Culpepper was sick and tired of his job. The world of sports was corrupt. Athletes had nothing to say. Sportswriters weren’t allowed to cheer—but who wanted to? He moved to London, the center of what is arguably the planet’s most popular pastime, Premier League soccer, where he bought tickets, sat with the fans, and learned to cheer again. “It was like childhood,” he writes, “with beer.” Pulling for scrappy Portsmouth, he found himself sharing long-suffering fans’ ecstasy at the team’s best season ever. There’s a long tradition of Americans trying to understand soccer, and Culpepper’s effort ranks among the best. Rather than explaining the rules, he discusses what makes the sport exciting, offering the relegation system (the worst teams are demoted while the best are promoted) as evidence of a more enlightened society. Even better are his explorations of fan psychology—Why  do we attach our self-worth to the efforts of highly paid mercenaries?—and his own search for a new community raises another pertinent question: Can you really choose your team? Culpepper occasionally overdoes the clueless-American act, and the deletion of expletives is unduly prim, but this lighthearted look at English soccer in the post-hooligan era is a necessary update to Bill Buford’s landmark Among the Thugs (1992). --Keir Graff
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; First Edition edition (August 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767928083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767928083
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #643,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Oakley on March 20, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Being a Brit who now resides in the U.S. I had a "have to have it" moment when I saw this book. I was not disappointed. This is a great fun read that shows the difference between how sports are perceived here in the U.S. as compared to football (soccer)in the U.K.
Wonderful anecdotes about real people enjoying the national passtime. Really took me back home.
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Format: Paperback
Although I must agree that almost all of the many negative comments made by several other reviewers are justified in their way (in particular, the central shtick of the relatively "purity" the English soccer experience does wear a bit thin with repetition as the story goes on), I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed nearly every page of this book and also learned a lot about its subject.
I had never heard of the author, had only an extremely superficial familiarity with the top English league in its current incarnation (the Premiership), and still had somewhat of an outdated view of the English soccer world heavily colored by the well-publicized violence of the 80s. For the role I think it is intended to play (an introduction for Americans to how being an in-person, stadium-going, road-tripping fan of this sport/league is so different from the experience of many typical fans of baseball, basketball, and American football), it succeeds admirably. And I think the writing is quite skillful. OK, it's not quite Peter Gammons or Roger Angell (Mightn't it have been amazing if one of them had pursued this project?), but to me it's a real "find."
Yes, the notion that you can CHOOSE your wonderfully irrational attachment to a team is hard to swallow, but somehow Culpepper seems so open and honest and fairly self-deprecating about the perverse thing that he is consciously doing makes it seem OK to me. I am rather conflicted about this myself, having adopted Chelsea way back in 1967 when I lived there for a year, and their team was second-tier in the old First Division, and the whole world was so different, but finding it very hard to root for them today on TV when they are so obviously parallel in so many ways to the Damn Yankees (the baseball team, not the whole nation).
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Conjure Lass on July 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm a bit of a budding soccer fan, so I thought I would give this book a try.

Don't get the wrong idea. I loved the parts where he just talked soccer and his reactions to it...I just tend to dislike the parts where he's so blatantly anti-american that I found myself hard pressed to finish even the following page. It's not that i'm a hugely patriotic or anything. More that I find myself understandably offended when the writer continually calls my intelligence into question.

An example?

"With Americans sharing a common inability to view a map and spot, say, Louisiana-this helps explain why it took us four days to get food to sarving Americans after Hurricane Katrina-Americans certainly could not point out Wigan."

Now, i'm sure we're not all the best a geography, but is it really necessary to insult your readers (afterall, a goodly portion of the people who bought this book were Americans) to such a degree that it becomes annoying and tiring? The author could not go two pages without criticizing some facet of America and it's culture/sports/educations system/etc etc. Could the book not have focused more on soccer (since that was what the book was supposed to be about) and less on the fact that the author obviously has some lingering bitterness with his country of birth?

I really think this book could have been great had it simply kept its focus on soccer and less on the author's personal feelings towards the American people.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ryebadger on October 14, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Culpepper is a very good writer and his book gives an entertaining account of what it's like to be a fan of a Premiership club. Culpepper became disillusioned with American sports and moved to England in search of the purity and passion that originally drew him to sports as a boy. As any fan of the EPL can tell you, the reality does not fit Culpepper's hypothesis. The Premiership is as corrupted by money, greed, commercialism, cheating, spoiled players and ill-mannered fans as any pro sport in the US. Probably more so. Culpepper ignored this inconvenient truth for the sake of his book. He could have confronted the reality he found and still pulled off a good, and perhaps even more interesting, story of self discovery. Instead, he chose to make intellectually dishonest arguments that supported his original premise. Some of Culpepper's observations were so inconsistent he was left looking more contorted than David James on a penalty kick. From the start Culpepper did little to disguise his bitterness toward American sports (really American society in general), almost to the point that it was preordained he'd find satisfaction in any alternative. He was so eager to trade in his current ride, any other car would've seemed like a Rolls. The problem here is that the EPL has plenty of the same warts that caused Culpepper to seek solace in the first place. It is not the bastion of purity and innocence that Culpepper imagined. It would have been OK for Culpepper to admit that. In fact, it would have been a deeper, more interesting and certainly more honest effort.

All in all, a worthwhile book, even if the moralizing was a bit much.
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