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The World Is a Ball: The Joy, Madness, and Meaning of Soccer Paperback – October 12, 2010


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The World Is a Ball: The Joy, Madness, and Meaning of Soccer + The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer + Inverting The Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books (October 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605291463
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605291468
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #347,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

A witty and honest hymn to soccer, this book is also a meditation on fandom, television, international travel and national identity as mediated through sport. John Doyle registers in vivid prose the strange blend of genius, attrition and downright cheating that is modern football. -- Declan Kiberd International football tournaments are extraordinary things: sporting rituals, commercial bonanzas, international TV events and popular carnivals. In The World is a Ball, John Doyle is our laconic, sharp eyed guide to the circus. This a football travelogue alert to the complex identities, and emotions that international football evokes, and tuned to the political and social meanings that emerge from success and failure, but never makes them hard going. Playful, humane, observant, Doyle delights in his fellow human beings capacity to conjure pleasure and purpose from football. There's nothing quite like being there, but if you can't The World is a Ball will give you an irresistible taste that will make you want to be there next time, and a learned eye with which to take it in and enjoy it. -- David Goldblatt, Author Of The Ball Is Round: A Global History Of Soccer --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ervin Wood on 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 By T. Luo on April 14, 2011
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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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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By Brent on March 28, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I finished this book and could not really figure out why it was written. The author seemed strong in his convictions, but they never really went anywhere. On top of that, there are a TON of typo's throughout the book which is really annoying and makes you semi-question the author's credibility.
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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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