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The Shared Origins of Football, Rugby, and Soccer Hardcover – September 10, 2015
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In this self-proclaimed nonacademic work, Rowley traces the origins of seven contemporary ball games—all variants of American football, soccer, and rugby—to a common beginning. He organizes the book chronologically but frequently digresses as he covers the history of these games from ancient to modern times. This span allows only a cursory description of the material, but Rowley's purpose is to provide not a detailed analysis of the history and significance of each game but rather a descriptive history that will give the fan a better understanding of each. Rowley is a journalist and novelist, and that background is evident in the writing style. He often places the reader as a spectator at a ‘re-creation’ of the historical games, embellishing generally acknowledged facts into snapshots of history. . . .Rowley's account of commonalities of the games is entertaining. (CHOICE)
The book is a rampage through history, pulling from Greek versions of ball games and earlier, before leaping oceans to chart Mayan and ancient Han Chinese games, then settling into the various versions of today's games involving inflated balls, or differing shapes, kicked or passed or somehow driven by teams across goal lines or into protected nets. Rowley explains the wild rural British and French variations of what we now see, involving entire villages, as well as the rule origins of American football, Canadian football, rugby, Australian rugby and associated football (soccer). (Woodstock Times)
For football (or rugby or soccer) fans who [are] unfamiliar with the history of their favorite sports prior to the mid-19th century, the book is a quick and engaging read that offers a broad-strokes look at the history that led to the variety of modern football codes. (Sport in American History)
What are the origins of all the modern day contact sports, from grid iron football to Aussie Rules, rugby, and soccer? In this book, Christopher Rowley reveals how ball games arose and took shape into what we know today as football, soccer, rugby, and others. Ball games are traced back to ancient Egypt, Shang China, and the Olmecs in Meso-America, through the Greeks and the Romans, up to the period of 1840-1880 where the modern day codes began, and on to the present. This fascinating history of a global phenomenon will interest sports fans and historians alike.
About the Author
Christopher Rowley is a journalist and reporter for a local newspaper in the Catskills region of New York. He is the author of twenty-three science fiction and fantasy novels.
Top customer reviews
You will not only be in the middle of the action of the games, but you will time-travel into the worlds where they evolved and were played, from the beginning of civilization until now, dropped into town squares and stadia to witness the drama and schisms that have produced our modern sports.
From the scrum of years and centuries of data, Rowley has emerged in uncontested possession... of this tale which he now expertly passes to the waiting reader.
If you want to learn all about every species of football this is your book. If you want to learn about the history of the world, this is your book.
Depending on your favorite football form, you will say:
Rowley has scored a try
he’s headed the ball into the net
kicked it between the posts
run it the length of the gridiron.
I would recommend it as a Christmas present to anyone with an interest in history, sport, or good writing.
With this great book we now know the true story - and it is a doozy.
Almost as long as we have human history we've had ball games (OK sometimes played with human skulls). It makes sense that people would be cheering and singing and watching others running and scrambling and falling down in mud for centuries and doing all that for fun because IT IS fun and somehow, so very deeply, it is also who we are as humans.
Everyone looking for a great present for a football fan, a soccer fan, a rugby fan - anyone who loves games that have balls - this is the book for you and for them.