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Soccer in Sun and Shadow Paperback – August 6, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A history of the sport of soccer, the poetic title of this volume, originally published in 1995 as El fútbol a sol y sombra and now in its fourth edition, is a dead giveaway that this is not a purely historical accounting of the world's most popular game. While Galeano covers the sport's origins in China five thousand years ago to the 2010 World Cup in chronological order, it's how he tells the story in this rather poetic history that sets the book apart from others. Galeano, a renowned Uruguayan author and journalist, brings a personal passion to fútbol's most memorable moments that can only come from a true aficionado. Whether describing great games, momentous goals or extraordinary players, each story has that distinct magical realism so prevalent in Latin American literature that it doesn't matter that from one sentence to the next the writing moves from clichéd to poetic, as when he describes the great Pelé: he cut right through his opponents like a hot knife through butter. When he stopped, his opponents got lost in the labyrinths his legs embroidered. Focusing mostly on the international aspects of the game, Galeano's Catholic upbringing, socialist politics, and the injustice he's seen as a journalist seeps into his commentary, and gives his narrative a refreshing perspective that captures soccer's spiritual roots, corruption by greed, and role as a global equalizer that puts royals and dictators at the mercy of minorities and slum kids. (Aug.)

From The New Yorker

Soccer in Sun and Shadow stands out like Pele on a field of second-stringers. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; Rev Upd edition (August 6, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568584946
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568584942
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a thoughtful little soccer history reader by a well-known Uruguayan poet and writer. It's written in tiny little topical chunks covering the history of soccer in roughly chronological order. Starting with the pre-history of soccer it unravels leisurely until at the end there is a small denunciation of the big money interests that have corrupted the game which has a grip on the imaginations of little boys (and now girls) around the world. Scattered throughout are lyrical testimonials to individual performers and goals throughout history. As I read, I kept wishing for an accompanying DVD to show these magical goals, but upon reflection, I realized that what Galeano can paint as magic with words might well fade into banality when subjected to the freeze frame. Even though a lot of the players and matches mentioned will mean little to North American soccer fans, the book is still essential reading for its ability to impart the mystical grip the sport has on much of the globe.
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Format: Paperback
Soccer in Sun and Shadow is a superb book covering the very early days of soccer to modern soccer's start in England to the world game that is played today, and all of it is superb. Even if you are not a huge soccer fan, Galeano's passionate writing will draw you into the fold and make you care for at least as long as the book is open.
Galeano recalls his childhood memories of goals scored and saves missed, the beautiful dance his heroes performed with the ball, and his pride in South American soccer. His writing is sublime and metaphoric, and Galeano never stumbles. By the time he examines the new phase of commercial soccer you'll want to cry at the tainting of a game that is (was?) so pure. The commercialization of soccer will help peolpe from the states relate to the rest of the world: after all, it was just a couple of decades ago when our four major sports were ruined by escalating salaries, corporate involvement and worthless expansion. Galeano wears his heart on his sleeve and creates a wonderful read that anyone, sports fan or not, should enjoy.
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Format: Paperback
Soccer in Sun and Shadow is Eduardo Galeano's lyrical portrayal of the magic, passion and spontaneity of the sport set in a historical context from soccer's beginnings to the arrival of Bralizian dominance and the subsequent mass marketing of the sport via television and various corporations. The book is comprised of many anecdotes relating the feats of some of soccer's mythic heroes such as Friedenreich, Garrincha, Di Stefano, Cruyff, and of course, the inimitable Pelé. This format will probably appeal more to soccer neophytes than long-time fans, but nonetheless, it is still a good read.

I enjoyed reading stories about various aspects of the sports history and the personalities that formed it. I liked learning about the person who invented the bicycle kick and Di Stefano's incredible goal or how Zizinho scored a double goal against Yugoslavia during the 1950 World Cup. Throughout the book, Galeano imbues the narrative with a tone of passionate reverence for soccer, although he is critical of the big-money machine it has become in recent years.

This is a good book for both fans and non-fans of soccer.
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Format: Paperback
Sometimes Edurado Galeano is able to write beautiful prose on the beautiful game. Sometimes he writes like a grade school child very matter of factly and you wonder why he even bothered. Also, you may want to check his facts as there is one myth he perpetrates that has since been proven totally false. The myth that the 1942 Dynamo Kiev team were all executed by the Nazis is total BS. (The real story you can Wiki as they won't let me post links to it here on amazon.com.)

I did learn a lot about the various Latin American soccer players of the early days through to the '60s that are often overlooked by the myopic Europeans. It's interesting to learn who the Brazilian scoring star whose records Pele chased was Artur Friedenreich and that he was black (I had no clue as it's never mentioned in most texts) which explains that racist omission from the 1921 Brazil squad in the South American Cup back in less enlightened times. I loved hearing about the various "Machine" era players of River Plate in the '40s. To hear about the heroes of the first superpower in world soccer, Uruguay, back in the '20s was also superb.

He definitely fills in the gaps in my soccer knowledge but, especially when he does his World Cup summations they often start well by setting what the times were like (i.e., 1958 World Cup story begins by telling of satellites in space, wars in Lebanon and Algeria, '56 uprising in Hungary, a new pope and a new doll called Barbie showing up) but his abrupt way of describing the Finals is bizarre. For example, he often matter of factly states who the leading scorers were with not much nuance or detail yet will go on in other mini essays about some obscure incident in a league match in Colombia.
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Format: Hardcover
Media coverage of the World Cup makes it clear once again: when it comes to soccer, many Americans just don't get it. This little book could be the key for those who would like to figure out what makes for all the passion and excitement. Galeano writes about soccer with passion, with poetry, and with sensitivity to social realities (particularly in Latin America). His short vignettes describe players, matches, specific plays, the evolution of the game. They comment on the current style of play (he doesn't like it much) and on the glories of the past. He is particularly good at showing how deep the soccer passion runs in Latin American culture.
The ideal edition of this book would have an accompanying video with clips of at least some of the moments Galeano describes. Failing that, however, the book itself makes magic with words to describe the "beautiful game". Galeano's politics come through also, and they only help to give the right sort of "local color" to the text. The translation is very well done, so that one hardly ever wonders how much better things might have been said in the original.
All in all, a great little book!
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