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Comment: This item is in good condition. All pages and covers are readable. There are no stains or tears. Dust jacket is present if applicable. May contain small amounts of writing and/or highlighting. Spine and cover may show signs of wear. May not contain supplementary items. We ship within 1 business day. Big Hearted Books shares its profits with schools, churches and non-profit groups throughout New England. Thank you for your support!
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The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy Paperback – June 6, 2000

4.1 out of 5 stars 129 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

We already knew Joe McGinniss could chill our blood (Fatal Vision) and arouse both our pity and distaste for the Kennedys (The Last Brother), but who knew he could be so funny? (Well, maybe readers who remember The Selling of the President back in 1968.) Even those who have no interest in soccer--the majority of Americans, he ruefully admits--will relish the author's vivid account of a team from Castel di Sangro, a tiny town in Italy's poorest region, that against all expectations made it to the national competition. Whether he's chronicling his ordeal at possibly the least-inviting hotel in Italy (the heat doesn't come on until October, no matter the temperature; he is assigned to a room up four flights of stairs though there are no other guests), or sketching a colorful cast of characters that includes the team's sinister owner and an utterly unflappable translator, McGinniss prompts roars of laughter as he reveals an Italy tourists never see. He also saddens readers with a shocking final scene in which he confronts the nation's casual corruption, which taints men he's come to respect and even love. Although not a conventional memoir, this stirring book reveals as much about the author's passionate character as about the nation and the players who win his heart, then break it. --Wendy Smith --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

With the growing popularity of soccer in North America, McGinniss, author of numerous best-selling works of narrative nonfiction (Blind Faith, LJ 1/89), has written the rags-to-riches story of how an Italian soccer team, Castel di Sangro from the Abruzzi region, rose through the ranks from the very bottom (Terza Categoria) to the Serie BAa remarkable feat. There are eight steps to reach the world's best league, the Serie A. The Italian press was motivated by the achievement of Castel di Sangro, referring to the club as the "Lilliputi." More than a mere history of the team's improbable season, this book provides the reader with insights into the passionate world of Italian soccer. The journey documents the trials and tribulations surrounding a professional sports team. Certainly a good read for soccer fans as well as for other sports enthusiasts; recommended for purchase where demand warrants.
-ALarry Robert Little, Penticton P.L., BC
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 404 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (June 6, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767905997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767905992
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By T. Bundrick on September 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
(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?
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