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The Girls of Summer: The U.S. Women's Soccer Team and How It Changed the World Paperback – April 10, 2001

4.1 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

On July 10, 1999, the world of women's sports changed forever as the U.S. defeated China in the Women's World Cup soccer final in front of 90,000 spectators at the Rose Bowl--and millions more watching on television around the world.

In The Girls of Summer, Jere Longman tells the story of the women's team, their rise to world dominance, and their struggle with the United States Soccer Federation (U.S.S.F.) for the support, respect, and salary they deserve. Drawing on extensive personal interviews recorded before, during, and after the World Cup, Longman offers up portraits of all the players on the team--Akers, Hamm, Chastain, Milbrett, Overbeck, and the rest. Longman also addresses some of the issues surrounding the team and the Women's World Cup--how U.S.S.F. and the national media seriously underestimated the level of interest the tournament would generate; the questions of race and sexuality; and the positive role models these women provided to a nation of young girls--showing them that they, too, could achieve their dreams.

Some of Longman's statements ring false--millions of Europeans would be appalled to hear soccer described as a "Third World sport"--but overall, Girls of Summer is a fine tribute to the world champions. --M. Stein --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Soccer fans and even the uninitiated are unlikely to forget last summer's extraordinary game when the U.S. women's team defeated China for the world championship. Who doesn't recall the seemingly endless overtime plays and the victorious Brandi Chastain tearing off her jersey? With the 1999 team etched into sporting history, a reprise of the winning season was inevitable. The stories of the team members are particularly evocative, especially the struggles of individual players to overcome physical hardship. (For example, Longman eloquently describes Michelle Akers's severe chronic fatigue syndrome, which frequently caused her to collapse after games.) But excerpts of fans' conversation and naysayers' commentary appeal less. Longman, a sportswriter for the New York Times, interviewed coaches, players, fans and members of the competition for this detailed account of the championship season. Soccer fans wanting to savor the games and learn of behind-the-scenes events will probably enjoy this book. Yet Longman tries to cover so much groundAfrom the biographies of the players to the political aspect of the game to the fans' perspectiveAthat the work as a whole remains uneven. Photos not seen by PW. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (April 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060934689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060934682
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Laura B. Riggs on July 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Girls of Summer provides an in-depth look not only of the 1999 World Cup final match against China but also gives a good history of the U.S. women's national team. The book looks at brief parts of the game as they occurred and then breaks away from the game to fill in details about how a particular player or the team in general reached this moment in time. Depsite breaking away from the action, it does give complete coverage to the game from their arrival at the Rose Bowl to the celebration in the locker room after the game. It provides a great deal of insight into the early struggles of the national team to their national glory in 1999. Although it is almost entirely about soccer, it does examine the struggle women in general have faced across the globe to be allowed to play sports. The story does not end with the victory against China. It also looks at the struggle the national team faced with the U.S. Soccer Federation after the tournament. The author has done a good job of including interviews and vignettes from many of the main players on the team. If you are looking for a simple recounting of the U.S. victory, this book is not for you. This book also does not provide much detail about the World Cup games leading up to the final. If you are looking for detailed coverage about how the U.S. team developed over the last 12 years, you will enjoy reading The Girls of Summer.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a competent account of the U.S. national women's soccer team and its victory in the 1999 Women's World Cup. Jere Longman structured the book around the final match with China. I suppose the idea was to build tension while flashing back to early matches and describing the players and the team in depth. I found the structure to be a major annoyance, however. A straight chronology and/or a chapter on each player probably would have been more effective. The lack of an index is annoying. The information and quotes are strong, but there are few new insights (Tiffeny Milbrett's comments on the older players being the most prominent). The pictures are a disappointment, centering on Michelle Akers' travails in the final with a few others. And as another review points out, there are plenty of typos. But the team is so inspiring that it carries this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Good things come to those who wait; that's what we're always told. The NY Times' chief Olympics writer comes through with a book that delivers what it promises - a description of every facet of the women's world cup tournament.
It shows just how much the national governing body of soccer disrespected them, from the coach on down, in the months after their win. The reservations which were expressed when Brandi Chastain posed for Gear Magazine with a strategically placed soccer ball. And the debunking once and for all of her "orchestrated" shirt-doffing at the end of the final by conspiracy theorists who've watched one too many Oliver Stone movies.
It also lets us in on just how much people in the U.S. news media were staggeringly asleep at the switch, when reporters had to <pay their own way> to cover the tournament and only later were refunded by their sports editors. But first and foremost it comes back to 20 women who became the warm-weather version of the 1980 US men's Olympic hockey team; a team which an entire nation closed ranks behind. They are brought to vivid life by Longman here.
Reading it also harkens back to a time when you could pick up a newspaper's sports section and not have it resemble a police blotter. Or a litany of overpaid, underachieving athletes who, no matter how much they stink out their sports, always want to get paid even more. Of a time when American sport used to be pretty nice, unlike what it is now. That the same people who moan about the success of women's sports are the same ones who complain about no role models in sport. Longman presents 20 compelling ones here.
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By A Customer on August 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I read this book at a critical time in my professional life asa fundraiser, and it couldn't have come at a better time. As a budding athlete (a runner), I hadn't played soccer since I was on a YMCA team in the 2nd grade, but I was very interested in learning more about these women athletes who seemed so dedicated to their sport in an era of big-money sports and disintegrating team loyalty. I figured, hey, I need a role model, and here I have an entire team of them!
But what struck me the most as I read the book was exactly that: the team. I mean the whole concept of the team itself, beyond the individual personalities that comprise it. Anyone with a desire to learn how to achieve team work in any setting -- whether on the soccer field or in the office -- should read this book. At a time in my job when teamwork at my all-women office seemed to be at its lowest ebb, with backstabbing and harsh hallway gossiping eating away at office morale, it was a joyous relief to read of a group of strong, hard-driving, hard-playing women who feared each other, respected each other, screamed at each other, laughed with each other, cried with each other, all the while pursuing and ACHIEVING a common goal with such ferocity and drive and sheer dignity that was breathtaking to behold. It left me with tremendous hope for my own group of strong, hard-driving, hard-playing women and our certain ability to achieve our lofty goal ... for a cause we each personally believe in. Sure, we don't have 90,000 people watching us, but we do have 3,000 -- and more -- who do depend on us and the money we hope to bring in. I have the urge to buy a copy of this book for every woman in my office.
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