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Soccer in Sun and Shadow, New Edition Paperback – April 17, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (April 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859844235
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859844236
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #916,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From The New Yorker

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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Customer Reviews

This is a good book for both fans and non-fans of soccer.
Thomas V. Millington
Towards the end he condemns soccer for what it's become with a heavy socialist point of view which can become grating, but overall very entertaining.
Big Meeze
There are few books of non-fiction whose writing transcends the subject matter, but this is such a book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 39 people found the following review helpful 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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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J. Rossi on April 9, 2001
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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Thomas V. Millington on December 18, 2005
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ilia Toumadjanov on April 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
This breathtaking collection of soccer vignettes would resonate only with those who had played the game in the streets, who can still remember the names of the neighborhood heros and legends. That bygone era had certainly produced the most imaginative and skillful players in the history of the game. And it is the poor neighborhoods and urban slums that still produce the best creative genius in terms of individual talent, not the resplendent multi-million dollar youth academies of the post-industrial world. The stories and observations in Galeano's book are vibrant with emotion, there is nostalgia, sadness and sorrow parlayed through the memory. One observation is particularly poignant, that of an empty soccer stadium after the game, the feeling of emptiness and mortality. Thank God, Uruguyan soccer is probably the only one true to its great tradition, and althouigh the country is ridden with endemic problems beseeching that part of the world, no other team in the world can weave a gossamer lace of short passes like they do. May be such old notions as dignity and integrity could be reinvigorated in our commodified world if people read such books. After finishing the book, it's a no-brainer to understand why the World Cup dwarfs any other sporting event in terms of TV audience by the billions!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By H2Steacher on August 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
I liked my old paperback edition so much, I bought a hardbound version of the new edition. (The new material BTW is just a continuation of Galeano's commentaries this time centered on the 2002 World Cup tournament. Older version just went up to the 1998 tournament.)

Any discussion of Galeano's writing must begin with his inimitable style. For lack of a proper genre, I call his writings "mosaicos", as each little vignette is like an individual tile in a larger, greater picture. Sometimes this format can be a bit disjointed, but in "Soccer Sun Shadow", it works because the Reader understands that the vignettes are organized chronologically. Galeano does have some vignettes about the origins of the game and its spread to the far-flung corners of the world by British imperialists, but by and large the narrative begins with accounts of games/goals/players from the early 1950s. Since Galeano is Uruguayan, he also has a decidedly Latin American bias (so don't expect to be reading about European teams of the era).

I'm 42 years old and a fan of soccer; some of the stories/players mentioned I had never heard of, so it was refreshing to hear a bit of this history. Once Galeano's narrative caught up to my earliest memories of the game (1970/1974 World Cups), I felt like I was talking to an old friend about a subject we both love. I think that's why I like this book so much: it blends my love of literature (I'm an English teacher) with my love of soccer, and it does it so poetically, so precisely, with such quick turns of language, it is a distinct pleasure to read and reminisce.

I'm not saying you should buy two copies of "Soccer Sun Shadow" (like I did), but if you buy one, I'm sure you'll enjoy the read.
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