Most helpful critical review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
mundanely profound or profoundly mundane
on January 16, 2012
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. It's entertaining but I sometimes wonder if the translation was poor or the editing was slipshod.
To be honest, I liked the style of this book with short bursts of text on various players, teams, topics but they are very inconsistent. They are either profound or read like someone's daily planning journal.