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The World Is a Ball: The Joy, Madness, and Meaning of Soccer [Kindle Edition]

John Doyle
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

Digital List Price: $15.99 What's this?
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Book Description

For the past 10 years, leading Canadian journalist and cultural critic John Doyle has been traveling the globe to observe World Cup and other soccer matches played at the highest level. The result is a Bill Bryson-esque narrative full of wit and insight, concluding with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

In between his encounters with the delirious fans, the crazed taxi drivers, the leprechauns and the lederhosen, Doyle examines the evolution of soccer as a global phenomenon. More importantly, he explores in highly entertaining fashion how national character is revealed in both how the teams play the games and how their fans choose to celebrate.

This is a book that will excite and entertain both soccer enthusiasts and the legions of readers who simply love great storytelling.


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Doyle, TV critic for Canada’s Globe and Mail, has a beat many would envy, writing about “whatever I see on TV.” But, perhaps paradoxically, he loves getting lost in the crowd. A chance assignment to cover the World Cup gave the lifelong soccer fan a passion for attending big, international tournaments in person. In recounting three World Cups (2002, 2006, and 2010) and two Euros (2004 and 2008), he focuses less on the field and more on what happens beyond the camera’s eye, from raging parties in the streets to quiet encounters between fans. He has a knack for choosing telling details, and in chronicling the crowds, context, and spectacle of these mammoth competitions, he makes a strong case for them as “joy-bringers, unique festivals of congeniality.” The narrative suffers from a minor case of the I-could-have-told-you-so syndrome; if we are to believe Doyle, he generally knew more about what would happen, and what it meant, than other observers. And, for all his love of revelry, he tends to pass judgment on whether others are enjoying themselves in the right way. Those quibbles aside, Doyle’s enthusiasm is infectious. And his book, packed with memorable scenes, should encourage even the most casual fan to take the fun of it all more seriously. --Keir Graff

Review

Praise for A Great Feast of Light:
"[This] book crackles with unexpected angles, and is written with a kind of naïve delight. It is the ideal present for anyone given to pontification about the brain-deadening effects of television."
The Sunday Times, (UK)

"A marvelous read, with keen insights and laugh-out-loud moments..."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"I had to stop reading several times because I was laughing hysterically."
— Malachy McCourt


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 633 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1605291463
  • Publisher: Rodale (October 12, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0046A8S9A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #886,150 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ball was deflating March 27, 2012
Format:Paperback
As an avid soccer fan, I was excited about this book and it started out well. Doyle is obviously an experience writer and has a good knack for finding quirky insights into the culture of different soccer communities around the world. However, as the book progressed the author's voice became increasingly grating to me with his smug know-it-all takes on various countries and their respective sides (he thinks England still sucks even if they win 5-1). I felt like his understanding of soccer tactics is very simplistic (teams like Ireland can beat bigger countries with grit and desire) and he placed way too much emphasis on results (Greece in Euro 2004 or Turkey in Euro 2008) while ignoring the inevitable random bounces of luck and fluctuation that crop up in the short term run of every major tournament.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Diaries of a Traveling Football Journalist April 14, 2011
By T. Luo
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Thank you John Doyle for reminding me of how fun it is to travel during a major football tournament! This book details the interactions of three important aspects of modern day football: the game, the city and the supporters. The author takes us along his journey to two world cups (02 & 06) and two european championships (04 & 08). We experience the sleepless travel nights and countless train rides, the reactions of the locals to the game and the interaction of various supporters. If you were lucky enough to take part in one of the tournament, this book will likely trigger a reaction, most likely a happy memory. If you have never been, this book may just inspire you to attend one in the future, but be forewarned: nothing will ever get you ready for the sight of the Oranje Army live in person!

Don't expect detailed analysis on any of the matches played, most are not mentioned with more than a few sentences, so if you are looking for a history of the game type of book this is not it. This book is filled with many delightful tales of adventure before and after the 90 minutes have been played. The World is a Ball is about the beautiful game behind the eyes of a football journalist and more importantly a football fan.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book. May 19, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Doyle's book is a great narrative of the experiences of being at a major soccer tournament. I was at France 98 and Germany 06. I only wish I could have written about all my experiences at these tournaments like Doyle did. All the great memories and great people you meet. The crazy interactions, the maddening lines, the train rides, the partying, etc. If you are looking for a soccer book that going into great details about the game, then this is not your book. If you are a fan of soccer and travel writing then this is the book for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great read before World Cup 2014! May 27, 2014
Format:Audible Audio Edition
I love soccer, but wasn't sure I would enjoy this book. Playing it, watching it, coaching it, talking it, yes. Reading about it?

I'm glad I took a chance on this one, because its a really fun and surprisingly quick read. Doyle writes about how he found his early passion for the game in Ireland, then details many of his trips through World Cups and Euro Cup events. The book is a little more than a sport's writers historical account of the games and players. Doyle writes about the atmosphere of the host countries. He ponders some of the societal influences behind particular games. His insight goes a long way towards explaining why this really is "the world's game".

He has a true love and passion for the game which is infectious. I read this just three weeks before the start of World Cup 2014, and the timing couldn't have been better. If I wasn't excited before, I definitely am now.

Doyle does seem to have a dislike for the English team. Whether his comments are fair or not, I found his writing about them hilarious.

I will definitely recommend this book to friends who are soccer fans and enjoy a good read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for any true soccer fan February 13, 2012
By Kate
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'd seen John Doyle interviewed on FSR by Eoin O'Callaghan and when I heard it was not a book rehashing the games but a narrative about what happens away from what we see on the pitch I knew I had to have it. Doyle's writing is engaging and made me feel like I was right there in the thick of things as they unfolded. From the frantic pace of rushing to the games, to the quiet morning driving through the streets the day after a city's big celebration as most of the city sleeps off it's hangover, this book has it all. Every two years for the past decade, between the world cup and the Euros, I know I'm missing the world's biggest party. Thanks to Doyle's book, I can peek in from behind the curtain and catch a glimpse, and wish for the time when I can join them. GREAT job John Doyle, can't wait for your next one!
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