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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary and mistreated
I read no book reviews, saw no interviews, and saw no ads for this book. It's quiet, unassuming cover has little to nothing to do with the content. And yet, when I started reading, I fell in love with this book. I could not put it down. My wife, daughter and I spent several weeks travelling around Italy this summer. I discovered this book upon my return and it...
Published on September 24, 1999 by T. Bundrick

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Miracle o f Castel di Sangro
As a lifelong player and follower of soccer, I must admit that it was difficult to put this book down. In the first chapters, however, I found myself seriously second-guessing the author's professed instantaneous love for the game and certainly his tone of authority-in that regard, I have to agree with reviewers who disliked McGinniss' attempts at advising the manager,...
Published on December 21, 1999


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary and mistreated, September 24, 1999
I read no book reviews, saw no interviews, and saw no ads for this book. It's quiet, unassuming cover has little to nothing to do with the content. And yet, when I started reading, I fell in love with this book. I could not put it down. My wife, daughter and I spent several weeks travelling around Italy this summer. I discovered this book upon my return and it immediately made me sick to return to Italy. The book is as much about Italians and their society as it is about soccer. WHY WAS IT NOT MARKETED BETTER? This book shoudl be a best seller.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read, good account of Italian soccer, December 22, 1999
By 
P Waddle "p_waddle" (Richmond, VA United States) - See all my reviews
Like Joe McGinniss, I also was captivated by European soccer, and specifically Roberto Baggio, starting with the 1994 World Cup. Since then, I have had a voracious appetite for all information regarding Italian soccer. Thus, the book jacket caught my eye. I knew Castel di Sangro had a lower division soccer team, since they had just lost to Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia. While I was delighted to find this book on an Italian soccer team, I was even more delighted to discover that the book is very well written with plenty of drama and humor.
The main criticisms of the book have to do with the author's actions, as opposed to the literary content. However, I feel I must defend the author for his audacity to suggest tactics to the coach, and for his treatment of the scandal at the end. McGinniss certainly knew he would look like a fool to his readers by writing about his tactical conversations with the coach. His point was not to tell the world he is the foremost expert on soccer, but rather to convey his near mindless obsession with the game and "his" team. Also, his suggestions were not entirely off-base (although inappropriate), since the Italian media constantly criticize coaches for their cautious style of play, and Italian national coaches are always being fired for just such strategy. But for his conversations with the coach, we never would have learned that Italians have four or five different ways of expressing the same vulgar statement.
As for the scandal, readers from Italy or other countries outside America must understand the culture of sports betting in the U.S. One of the most popular baseball players ever, Pete Rose, was banned for life for simply betting on baseball, let alone actually fixing a game. While McGinniss may have overreacted and imposed his ethnocentric morals on a foreign country's game, match-fixing is a major problem in world soccer and should be exposed. The soccer-mad fans deserve better considering their devotion to their teams. That's my ethnocentric view.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars appreciation of an italian game, December 2, 1999
By 
brian lee pelton (menlo park, california) - See all my reviews
the author has done a masterful job of conveying the true love/hate relationship that weaves its way through italian society with respect to soccer. the development of the personalities involved in the team, as well as the people living in this tiny mountain town, was wonderful and endearing. his frustration with the coach over tactics, his opinions about the players and the men who run the team, and the funny stories about the townspeople are well worth reading. mcginnis actually helped me develop a deeper appreciation of italian soccer. i have always found italian soccer boring and ugly to watch, as i have always been a fan of south american soccer and the "beautiful game" of brazil. but after reading this story of "the miracle" i can now at least appreciate the mentality behind their defensive style of play, and the passion of the italian fans. the author has shown both the brightest and the darkest side of a game i have played, lived for, and followed since 1967. bravo, joe. bravo. if you are a soccer fan, you will love this book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The World of Miracles, December 20, 1999
McGinniss is entertaining as he jumps headfirst into -- and quickly becomes a part of -- some aspects of Italian culture that Americans are sure to find interesting: the soccer craze, small-town Abruzzese living, the bonds of family and friends, the patrone of Italian business and mafia, and even the fiesty and periodically outrageous Italian media. As one who has ancestors from Abruzzo and who has spent years living in Italy, Joe McGinnis does a wonderful job of sharing these aspects with the reader within the context of a true and interesting story which keeps one turning the pages.
Incidentally, shortly after reading this book during the summer of '99, I decided to make a pilgrimage to Castel di Sangro. McGinnis' descriptions of the place are quite accurate, although I felt the city had a casual and rundown beauty about it (McGinnis characterizes the place as nondescript). The final stop of my trek was at Marcella's pizzeria. While I did not know the name of her establishment, I simply asked people I met on the street "Where is Marcella's pizzeria?" They all knew, and were able to point me in the right direction.
I must have been the first person to visit Marcella since the publication of the book: she seemed quite surprised and flattered to see me. At first, she thought I was a friend of McGinnis, and seemed a bit puzzled that someone would come to Castel di Sangro simply on the basis of reading Joe's book. McGinnis had sent her a complimentary copy of the book, but she had never read it since she does not understand English. She politely asked me "So what does Joe say about me in the book?" When I told her that she was his most favorite person, she smiled broadly, pulled out her cell phone and address book, and began dialing McGinnis' phone number. She reached Joe's wife and told her about my visit. Although the pizzeria was closed at the time, Marcella offered me food and drink, which I graciously declined. We had a few laughs about the "miracle", I obtained an autograph for my book, and managed to obtain a few pictures of us near the Castel di Sangro team portrait which still adorns the pizzeria walls. A truly kind and molto gentile woman, who sent me on my way with a big kiss and a hug.
Thanks, Joe McGinnis, for sharing an interesting world which most Americans would never otherwise have the benefit of experiencing. Although I was privileged to receive a firsthand glance of this world during my pilgrimage, the reader of "Miracle of Castel di Sangro" can, thanks to this wonderful book, enjoy a similar glance without ever having to make the 2 1/2 hour drive from Rome.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Visit to Castel di Sangro, February 22, 2003
By 
(Reprinted Review From 1999 - reprinted upon demand)
McGinniss is entertaining as he jumps headfirst into -- and quickly becomes a part of -- some aspects of Italian culture that Americans are sure to find interesting: the soccer craze, small-town Abruzzese living, the bonds of family and friends, the patrone of Italian business and mafia, and even the fiesty and periodically outrageous Italian media. As one who has ancestors from Abruzzo and who has spent years living in Italy, Joe McGinnis does a wonderful job of sharing these aspects with the reader within the context of a true and interesting story which keeps one turning the pages.
Incidentally, shortly after reading this book during the summer of '99, I decided to make a pilgrimage to Castel di Sangro. McGinnis' descriptions of the place are quite accurate, although I felt the city had a casual and rundown beauty about it (McGinnis characterizes the place as nondescript). The final stop of my trek was at Marcella's pizzeria. While I did not know the name of her establishment, I simply asked people I met on the street "Where is Marcella's pizzeria?" They all knew, and were able to point me in the right direction.
I must have been the first person to visit Marcella since the publication of the book: she seemed quite surprised and flattered to see me. At first, she thought I was a friend of McGinnis, and seemed a bit puzzled that someone would come to Castel di Sangro simply on the basis of reading Joe's book. McGinnis had sent her a complimentary copy of the book, but she had never read it since she does not understand English. She politely asked me "So what does Joe say about me in the book?" When I told her that she was his most favorite person, she smiled broadly, pulled out her cell phone and address book, and began dialing McGinnis' phone number. She reached Joe's wife and told her about my visit. Although the pizzeria was closed at the time, Marcella offered me food and drink, which I graciously declined. We had a few laughs about the "miracle", I obtained an autograph for my book, and managed to obtain a few pictures of us near the Castel di Sangro team portrait which still adorns the pizzeria walls. A truly kind and molto gentile woman, who sent me on my way with a big kiss and a hug.
Thanks, Joe McGinnis, for sharing an interesting world which most Americans would never otherwise have the benefit of experiencing. Although I was privileged to receive a firsthand glance of this world during my pilgrimage, the reader of "Miracle of Castel di Sangro" can, thanks to this wonderful book, enjoy a similar glance without ever having to make the 2 1/2 hour drive from Rome.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 stars for the book, 0 stars for Joe, May 12, 2000
Joe gives us a pretty good book, especially if you are ignorant of soccer. I was. I am, but a little less. I did know a little about Italy having lived in Naples a few months. That's why I read the book. I didn't expect to finish it when I started, but I did. I did because Joe made the players come alive, he made the situation come alive, he provided tension for the soccer games as well as the situation. In that way he made it a pretty good read. But I was embarrassed for the USA. I feel I need to apologize to my Italian friends for his behavior. Get this! The man comes to Italy with almost no knowledge of soccer, believes himself to become such an expert in no time that he gives advice to the coach, and then wonders that the coach doesn't cotton to that. But it gets worse. Joe wants to sit in judgement on another country, on a sport in another country, on the people of another country. Joe, Joe, Joe, did you ever hear of the Ugly American? A fly on the wall. That was your job. Report. Be funny, but don't denigrate and don't judge and don't try to tell the coach what to do. Joe wrote the book. Read it in spite of Joe. Do like I did and buy it at a fire sale for a buck. Enjoy and feel embarrassed at the same time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a Great Story, October 28, 2000
By 
Jordo (Redmond, WA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy (Paperback)
This book affected me more than any other book I have ever read has.
To start with, I consider myself a true soccer fan as I have been to games in Europe and support a team die-heartedly. I am very judgemental on soccer books (the biography on Ronaldo was below my standards and so was "Fever Pitch"). I picked up this book after having had it recommended by Amazon.com (I had just finished "Hand of God" and was looking for another book on soccer).
I wasn't able to put the book down. From Joe's first story of riding an Italian train to the final scene, I was captivated at this different "love of soccer" that the Italians seem to possess. I finished the book at about 1:30am because I could not put it down. When I finished, I just laid wide-awake in bed, not believing what had just happened. I wasn't able to get back to sleep for some time later.
More than anything, this book tells what it is like to love a team so much (something a true soccer fan knows), while being involved in a totally different culture (and to try to accept the culture for what it is) and develop relationships with people from the culture, even though you have different attitudes and beliefs. Two totally different ways of life emerge due to a "minor league" (Calcio Italiano - Serie B) soccer team.
Well worth the read!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For what it's worth..., September 15, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy (Paperback)
Most of the criticism of this book is aimed at the author's inappropriate application of american sensibilities to Italian calcio.
This may be a fair criticism, but to me, this was an interesting part of the book. Sure, McGinniss seems a bit overbearing at times (though hardly an 'Ugly American' as some here have implied). But the story told from this point of view makes it even more interesting.
In the end this book is more than just the rags-to-riches story of a minor league Italian soccer team. It's about immersion in another culture, and finding out that even the most knee-jerk liberal american sensibilities won't shield one from being occasionally judgemental about what one finds. In the end, the author is clearly in love with Italy, Italian calcio, and Castel di Sangro---for better and for worse.
For what it's worth, I'm an american soccer fan who enjoys learning about other cultures and languages. I think that most people with these sets of interests will enjoy this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The saga continues..., October 11, 1999
If you have never been in Joe M.'s shoes, then...Don't criticize. Just read and love this book. Do you think McGinniss didn't realize the coach knew much, much more about soccer than he did? Do you think he really believed all of the rumours about Rezza? about the GM, whose name I can't even remember? The story here is the passion that almost made McGinniss go crazy. A sane man, after all, doesn't take that many valium, ever, period. He adored Baggio like a God, and no wonder, since apparently he got to meet him and they have at least become acquaintances... So sure, to a person with close ties to Baggio, Sacci is Evil incarnate. Think of it this way. If Roberto Baggio sent you a nice letter, and invited you to dinner, you might feel passionate about his playing career.... This book is about passion. At the end, go back and read the forward. Passion, it's a word Italians seem to embody, while we Americans can't get past the technicalities of....everything. I, like Joe McGinniss, have enjoyed the marvelous passion of Latin soccer, having spent a few years in Costa Rica. I would encourage anyone interested in soccer to read this book with an open mind, and to think about the position the author was in. Imagine, how you would feel, if you got to travel with, say DC United for a year. By the way; McGinniss is facing libel charges in Italy from the management of Castel di Sangro FC. This type of thing, though, is also not uncommon in Italy...By the way, if there is a publisher interested in a guide to Costa Rican soccer.....
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Miracle o f Castel di Sangro, December 21, 1999
By A Customer
As a lifelong player and follower of soccer, I must admit that it was difficult to put this book down. In the first chapters, however, I found myself seriously second-guessing the author's professed instantaneous love for the game and certainly his tone of authority-in that regard, I have to agree with reviewers who disliked McGinniss' attempts at advising the manager, Jaconi. (Tactically, for example, I can't imagine any reason why the author would understand the implications of various formation changes). In the end, however, I would *strongly* recommend the book to any soccer fan or player (even younger ones)--I learned a lot about professional soccer in Italy, and the "cameo" appearances of Lalas and Baggio were amusing.
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