“An eccentric, fascinating exposé of a world most of us know nothing about.”
—The New York Times Book Review
"An insightful, entertaining, brainiac sports road trip."
—The Wall Street Journal
"Foer’s skills as a narrator are enviable. His characterizations… are comparable to those in Norman Mailer's journalism."
—The Boston Globe
A groundbreaking work—named one of the five most influential sports books of the decade by Sports Illustrated—How Soccer Explains the World is a unique and brilliantly illuminating look at soccer, the world’s most popular sport, as a lens through which to view the pressing issues of our age, from the clash of civilizations to the global economy.
Foer, a New Republic editor, scores a game-winning goal with this analysis of the interchange between soccer and the new global economy. The subtitle is a bit misleading, though: he doesn't really use soccer to develop a theory; instead, he focuses on how examining soccer in different countries allows us to understand how international forces affect politics and life around the globe. The book is full of colorful reporting, strong characters and insightful analysis: In one of the most compelling chapters, Foer shows how a soccer thug in Serbia helped to organize troops who committed atrocities in the Balkan War by the end of the war, the thug's men, with the acquiescence of Serbian leaders, had killed at least 2,000 Croats and Bosnians. Then he bought his own soccer club and, before he was gunned down in 2000, intimidated other teams into losing. Most of the stories aren't as gruesome, but they're equally fascinating. The crude hatred, racism and anti-Semitism on display in many soccer stadiums is simply amazing, and Foer offers context for them, including how current economic conditions are affecting these manifestations. In Scotland, the management of some teams have kept religious hatreds alive in order to sell tickets and team merchandise. But Foer, a diehard soccer enthusiast, is no anti-globalist. In Iran, for example, he depicts how soccer works as a modernizing force: thousands of women forced police to allow them into a men's-only stadium to celebrate the national team's triumph in an international match. One doesn't have to be a soccer fan to truly appreciate this absorbing book.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Overall Good Book
Whilst overall I thought it was a very good book with interesting and unique stories and examples, I though it skimped a little on the analogy between soccer and globalisation. Even though it was clearly there I felt it could have been better explained and more plainly put. But other than that I quite enjoyed it and really loved the ability to read it on my iPad/iPhone.
Great Sports Book
This is a well researched and thoughtfully composed book. I highly recommend it for anyone, soccer fan or not, who is interested in the dynamics of tribalism and the general human condition. The only disappointment is that I've never read a sports book that is close to this in quality.
For those who love the game, this is a must read. Indispensable for understanding why soccer rivalries transcend sport. I couldn't put it down.