23 September 2008

franklin foer - how soccer explains the world

how soccer explains the world || franklin foer || 2.5/5.0 stars

i'd been looking forward to this read for a long time. it's certainly a grabbing title, and an unusual combination of concepts. i would call myself "interested" in both soccer and globalization, though i have to confess my knowledge of both is woefully inadequate. in terms of globalization, my understanding is skewed to the development end, and generally only goes as far as thomas friedman's the world is flat. as for soccer, i'm one of those obsessive world cup watchers - but completely oblivious otherwise. i'd blame it on inaccessability, but that's really a lie considering something i like to call "the internet", and my friend threestripes. i guess i was hoping for an answer why in this book.

sadly, it let me down. the writing was good, and it certainly wasn't hard to stay engaged. learned a lot about soccer's modern history and found the specific histories of various clubs to be very interesting.

the structure, however, failed to meet the concept's potential. the book is broken down into ten chapters, each designed to show how soccer explains a particular tenet of globalization - sectarianism, the role of jews, bourgeois nationalism, etc. because the book lacks a first or last chapter tying things together, it feels scrambled and disjointed. if anything, the author makes convincing arguments about how soccer has been shaped by globalizing factors - the opposite intention, perhaps. if you're looking for an expanded understanding of globalization, this isn't the book for you. if you're interested, however, in expanding your knowledge of the modern history of soccer - read on.

i'd absolutely recommend the book to soccer fans with an interest in current affairs. if you're looking for an answer as to why there are so few of that group in the united states, chapter 10 (how soccer explains the american culture wars) may shed a little light on the subject.

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