- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (March 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0571236057
- ISBN-13: 978-0571236053
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,128,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Story of the World Cup: The Essential Companion to South Africa 2010 Paperback – March 1, 2010
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
For a month every four years, millions around the world turn their attention to the World Cup, where the most skillful soccer players proudly represent their countries. Brian Glanville, a sports journalist and soccer commentator, brings his wit and detailed knowledge of the game to The Story of the World Cup, a breezy romp through the competition's history and personalities. Although Glanville is obviously knowledgeable about his subject--from its origins to its politics--he is careful not to patronize his readers. He strolls through the narrative much like a tour guide, pausing here and there to reflect or evangelize on events that would perhaps go unnoticed by the untrained eye. But Glanville never forgets the real stars of this story: the players. Some are names that are recognizable, like Maradona and Pele--whom he follows from beginning to end (and in some cases, sordid end); others are the lesser-known stars, ranging from Beckenbaur and Cruyff to Garincha and Moore. Each team has its own unique story, whether it be the fallen genius of Argentina's Maradona or the perpetual bad luck of the Dutch. There is also a subtle message here: Glanville suggests that soccer return to basics and warns of the dangers of too much glitz and bureaucracy. The Story of the World Cup is both educational and entertaining--one part encyclopedia, one part drama. --Jeremy Storey --This text refers to the Digital edition.
About the Author
Brian Glanville, novelist and journalist, is one of the best writers on football. He spent nearly thirty years as a football correspondent for the Sunday Times to which he is still a contributor. He has also written for The People as well as contributing obituaries of prominent players to The Guardian. Simon Barnes has said of him, 'Football has been better served than most sports with grown-up fiction, all of it from Brian Glanville, who has written some beautiful short stories and the classic Sixties period piece, The Rise of Gerry Logan.' And A. J. Ayer, 'Brian Glanville himself is a literary exception ... he is the best football journalist of recent times and the best writer of football fiction.' Faber Finds have reissued three of his novels - his two on football, The Rise of Gerry Logan and The Dying of the Light as well as The Olympian.
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Top customer reviews
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My main complaint about the book is the relative paucity of statistics and also that the entire book needs some revision at some stage - right now, Glanville just seems to be adding a report per tournament. But still, if you are not into statistics and want to read just one book to get a flavour of the tournament and the issues and controversies affecting it, this one is your best bet.
Fluent writing style
Objective narration - he takes no sides
A bit bare on the statistical side
Pictures, pictures, we want more pictures. This is THE Beautiful Game, right?
Those expecting a cheerleading tome for soccer officialdom would do best to look for another book. Glanville is not afraid to criticize the FIFA bureaucracy, coaches and refereeing where warranted, nor do the cynical players and tactics escape his censure. A must read for every true soccer fan.
You get a feel for the drama, the excitement and the raw energy of the World Cup. For example, it is not simply stated that the Brazilians cultivated Mexican fans in 1970, but Glanville adds such memorable lines as "The Brazilians pursued a shrewd policy of 'beads for the natives..'.
Glanville's description of players, even obscure ones, shows dry wit, a keen eye and someone who has done his homework. Most writers would have dashed off a conventional 3-word blurb. Not Glanvile. For example, in describing sturdy Russian sweeper Chesternev(?) Glanville speaks of him "sweeping up diligently in his crouching bird-dog style.." Likewise another player is described not merely as a fast winger but " a strongly-built, moustached, and melancholy figure, with fabled control and finishing power."
And indeed, so he was. You get the sense that this is soccer as it should be played- with supreme confidence and absolute conviction. Despite the literary flavor, this book has meat, solid meat. Who wants a simple rehash of what went down? Glanville begins every chapter with a background to the Cup- the sometimes unsavoury politics and posturing, the jealousies, the disappointments of good players who didn't make the cut. Then he breaks down the detail of the contenders- their strengths and weaknesses. Like I said, this is meaty analysis, not another
rehash of stats we already know.
The viginettes and scenes are amazing, Puskas eating monkey nuts in Chile, grousing about Hungarian football, Pele's audacious attempt to beat Viktor from 50 yards out in 1970, the father of Spanish player DiStefano in 62 flying in with a mysterious "magic linament" to heal his son, the "spontaneous" 1970 Mexican crowd that conveniently and noisly gathered outside the English team's hotel, keeping the players awake all night, before the match with Brazil, the blazing speed and mesmerizing moves of the deformed winger- Garrincha of Brazil, the cheeky "street" caper of Maradona's infamous "Hand of G-d" goal, the brave comebacks of Germany in 1982 and 1986, the redemption of the scandal-smeared Paolo Rossi, and so on.. You almost get the sense of being there on the field.
Those expecting a cheerleading tome for soccer officialdom would do best to look for another book. Glanville is not afraid to expose the seedy side of the game, nor criticize the FIFA bureaucracy, hooligan fans, coaches and abominable refereeing where warranted, nor do the cynical players and tactics escape his censure.
There are some minor quibbles. In his 1966 edition, Glanville correctly describes Brazil's swift right winger Garrincha as a mulatto, but in the 1970 edition, he is transformed into a South American Indian. In fact, Garrincha was part black, and this is confirmed in Joseph Page's book "The Brazilians". Of course with Brazil, racial categories are fuzzy, but Glanville does correctly point out that the introduction of black players in that country transformed the game. Some might object to Glanville even mentioning race, but it is interesting nevertheless to see the width of the Black Disapora, and the increasing blend of cultures in sports, and how sports can, in its own limited way, bring people together. Thanks to Glanvile, these glimpses range from "the Black Diamond" Leonidas of Brazil back in 1938, to the swift black winger Andrade of Uruguay circa 1950, to Gatejens, scorer of the shocking goal that upset England in 1950 (yes, the segregated, Jim Crow US had "colored" players), to the pantherine Eusebio and silky smooth Coluna of Portugal in 1966, to the corruscating Teofilo Cubillas of Peru of 1970, to the powerfully built sweeper, Tresor, of France.
Glanville's book is also invaluable for its many pictures of past players, particularly the older editions. The newer editions chop out a lot of interesting detail- after all the book can only keep expanding as the years pass. But all in all, a must read for every true soccer fan. Something for everyone- the young fan looking for heroes and pictures, the educated dabbler, or the hard-core afficionado.