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Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France Paperback – February 9, 2011

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Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France + How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
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Editorial Reviews


“An intriguing tale of soccer within the matrix of France’s history of colonialism.” STARRED REVIEW
(Library Journal 2010-05-01)

“Drills down to uncover the relationship among politics, race and the legacy of empire.”
(The New York Times 2010-05-10)

(Chronicle Of Higher Education 2010-05-30)

“Tale of how even the most seemingly apolitical institutions in a society can become the battlegrounds for its most pressing questions of identity and ambition.”
( 2010-06-18)

“The best, most important contribution to soccer scholarship to date. . . .A timely and wonderful book.”
(A.-P. Durand Choice 2010-09-01)

“Soccer Empire has a heart that beats louder than most, and is all the better for it.”
(Times Literary Supplement (TLS) 2010-06-25)

From the Inside Flap

"Laurent Dubois mines the history of French soccer for fascinating theories and riveting stories. His understanding of the relationship between the game and politics is subtle, leading readers deep into important discussions about race and national identity. For those of us who admired the poetics of Les Bleus this is essential reading."—Franklin Foer, author of How Soccer Explains the World

"Laurent Dubois is historian, fan and graceful writer all in one. In soccer, he has found an innovative way to explore France and its empire. A serious book and an excellent read."—Simon Kuper, author of Soccernomics

"Beautifully lyrical and authoritative. We meet a host of players, colonized and colonizer, following them from their original playing fields—a vast lawn, a concrete lot—to their triumphs in national and international play." —Alice Kaplan, author of The Interpreter

"This book is a brilliant, beautifully written, and unique history of French colonialism and post-coloniality through the lens of football/soccer. Dubois weaves an eminently readable and engaging narrative that tracks tensions around race and national identity through the biographies of key football players and officials who became iconic of the aspirations of peripheral subjects of the French empire. More than a simple history of French football, the book amounts to a description of France's imperial project and an incisive reflection on the race question in contemporary France. It will please both fans of the 'beautiful game' and those inclined to dismiss sports as but the opium of the masses."—Paul Silverstein, author of Algeria in France: Transpolitics, Race and Nation

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (February 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520269780
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520269781
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #784,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Laurent Dubois, a specialist in the history and culture of France and the Caribbean, is Marcello Lotti Professor of Romance Studies and History at Duke University and Director of the Center for French and Francophone Studies as well as co-director, with Deborah Jenson, of the Haiti laboratory of the Franklin Humanities Institute. He is the author of Avengers of the New World (Harvard University Press, 2004) and A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804 (University of North Carolina Press, 2004), which won four book prizes, including the Frederick Douglass Prize. His most recent book is Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France (University of California Press, 2010). He has also published two collections: Origins of the Black Atlantic, edited with Julius Scott (Routledge Press, 2009) and Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 1789-1804: A History in Documents, edited with John Garrigus (Bedford Press, 2006). His most recent book is Haiti: The Aftershocks of History (Metropolitan Books, 2012), which was reviewed on the front page of the New York Times Book Review as well as in the Miami Herald, the Boston Globe, and the New Yorker. He is currently writing a history of the banjo (under contract with Harvard University Press), for which he received a National Humanities Center Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. With Richard Turits, he is also currently working a history of the Caribbean. He was the head historical consultant for the recent PBS documentary on the Haitian Revolution, Egalité for All, and the co-chair of the scholars committee for a New York Historical Society exhibition entitled Revolutions, which will open in November 2011. He recently received a Mellon New Directions Fellowship to study Ethnomusicology.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This well written and thoughtful book is an interesting examination of the recent history of the French national football team. In the mid- to late 1990s, the team was simply superb, winning both the World Cup and the European Championship. Its most famous player, Zinedine Zidane, and several other members of the team were either children of non-white immigrants from former French colonies or born in former colonies. After the World Cup victory, the team was hailed as the showing the promise of racial integration in France. Concentrating on the life stories of Zidane and the outstanding defender Lilian Thuram, Dubois discusses the recent history of French football in the context of France's colonial past, the effects of de-colonialization, and the complex politics of race in France. Dubois shows the way football was used both by colonial administrators and by restive colonials as a political and social tool. Free of sociological jargon, the book is a nice balance of historical scholarship, social analysis, narrative of the lives of the protagonists, and the sporting history itself.

The quality of writing is very good and the analysis, as befits a knowledgeable historian, is thorough. This is well beyond the facile "Soccer Explains the World" journalism and this book provides an interesting view of French imperialism and French society. There are some areas where Dubois might have provided some additional explanation or analysis. Unlike the USA, France is a nominally color-blind society. By and large, no affirmative action and no "diversity" programs, a real difference from the US response to ethnic diversity. Dubois' primary research interest has been the French Empire, and its not surprising that he emphasizes the Imperial-Colonial aspect of the story.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Curiyu on September 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
Excellent book encompassing not just the history of French soccer but also of France's place within its own cultural legacy.
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