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The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup
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The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  260 ratings  ·  27 reviews
The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup features original pieces by thirty-two leading writers and journalists about the thirty-two nations that have qualified for the world's greatest sporting event. In addition to all the essential information any fan needs—the complete 2006 match schedule, results from past tournaments, facts and figures about the nations, players, te...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published May 12th 2006)
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It's the 2010 World Cup, and I've reread an essay from this book -- or two -- every day of play so far. All of the essays are interesting, but as a book about football, it's a teeter-totter. One day I read about how a beautiful expression of how football can be more important than sex or how an unquenchable England fan can find himself cheering for Les Bleus, and the next day I am reading an article about surfing that happens to mention a footballing superstar (apparently that's all it takes to...more
Feb 14, 2008 David rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: soccer nerds who like The Believer
Recommended to David by: My brother
This book is really around 21% about soccer. It's mostly just an excuse to get writers from different countries in the same volume -- some use soccer is a launching point for greater discussion on social topics or culture, some talk about soccer's role in their culture, others talk about the current history and the context of the tournament... It's interesting, and sometimes moving, but all in all it's a guiltless read to get your hands off and onto something paper-based.
This is probably a great book to get the lay person interested in the World Cup. While it provided some intriguing personal anecdotes from the writers, it is evident many of the writers are not soccer maniacs as they do not provide enough relevant information about the role of soccer in each country. In particular, I think the editors struggled to find a writer for Portugal so they settled on a surfer who mentioned C-Ronaldo once and rambled on page after page about the development of surfing on...more
A delightful look behind the flag, color, and jerseys of each country in the 2006 World Cup. Some essays focused on soccer, while others use players and teams as a microcosm for the country's political or cultural place in the world. A book about sports, without really being about sports.
I found that I tended to like entries on countries written by non-native-born authors. Dave Eggers' United States entry is funny, but doesn't really explain America's relationship with soccer today.
Highlights i...more
Being that we are in the midst of World Cup Fever and I play soccer I thought this might be an enjoyable read. All of the teams that made it into the 2006 World Cup were represented by a different author to write for that particular country. It gave stats and then a personal essay about soccer and (fill in the blank with country). I loved that the American essay talked about how much we hate flopping. That's when the players throw themselves on the ground, roll around in agony, grimace, writhe a...more
Lewis M
I started the book on my friend Russ's suggestion. The World Cup was about to begin, and here was a book that made you think. I read it of course out of order based on the teams I liked most, and then over time centred in on teams that had done well at the event itself.

The 32 essays more or less were connected to football, many fun and some were fascinating, but as a companion to watching the event the book made it a little less about the structure of the game and more about the pageant
I saw both editors speak at Court Street Books right before the 2006 World Cup. Two of the contributors also showed up, though their contributions had nothing to do with soccer. Um, if you were to pull together some writers to write about the upcoming World Cup for the soccer-ignorant American public, wouldn't you want to make sure that the pieces included in the book had something to do with soccer? Sure, I love reading about the Swedish penal system and surfing in Portugal, but not in a soccer...more
What a fun book! The editors collected 32 essays, one for each of the teams participating in the 2006 World Cup. Some are from noted literary fans like Nick Hornby and Dave Eggers, others from luminaries like former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Casteneda, and others from writers I'd never heard of. Some essays focus exclusively on the beautiful game, others barely mention it at all. The only thing I didn't like about this book is I read it about 5 years too late. And that there wasn't a 2010 v...more
Essential and insightful. Perfect for the non-soccer fan. A worthy introduction to the beautiful game.
This is a fun and light book. The problem is the inconsistency between the authors. Some are funny, insightful, poignant, and others don't seem to know or care much about soccer or its influence. The author discussing Portugal, for example, wrote a very long essay about surfing that only turns to the country and its love of soccer in the last page. Overall a fun read, and one I wished the authors would update each time the tournament came around.
Sep 08, 2007 Myke rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Football/Soccer Fans
An interesting collection of stories from writers and jounalists representing all 32 countries of the 2002 Fifa World Cup. Some of the stories are all about the sport. Some stories have very little to do with it. A good read for any one really. The stories only common theme is the author's personal connection with the sport, their country or both.
This was supposed to be a diversion. However, the title did not belie its contents. This is "the thinking fan's guide" and the section on Portugal (my people) certainly dampened my ardor for my beloved national team. Nonetheless, with how bad Portugal is sucking these doesn't take much to get me to poo on them.
Jun 20, 2007 m rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: football-erm-soccer fans, world historians
You'd be surprised at what this book really is -- it's not about football--erm--soccer at all. It's a series of essays about the countries in 2006's World Cup, some political, some personal, all by different authors.

The appendix contains a fascinating almanac of figures regarding the countries.
Jun 28, 2007 Adam rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Football fans
Shelves: sport
Great essays on each of the 32 countries who participated in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Not straightforward sports stories, each writer surveys the socio-economic and/or political state of the countries as they relate the the most popular sport in the world. Very insightful.
Aug 08, 2007 John rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: soccer fans
Pretty good. A little uneven, as some of the essays are better than others, but still worth the time. It's probably not as entertaining now that we're a year removed from the World Cup, but it'll be a good way to get ready for South Africa.
Book contains essays on countries that qualified for the 2006 World Cup, each by a different author. Spans entire viewpoints (which are pleasantly biased at times): culture, history, ideology. A brilliant warm-up for the actual event.
Series of essays about the 32 nations represented in the 2006 World Cup. While soccer is featured in many of these essays, much of this book is about more, namely the little things that make the people of this world so unique.
So far this book is just great. Really good breakdowns of all of ther teams leading into the '06 world cup. Also, some really good historical info about the tournament in general.
This book was made for me. Equal parts complex socio-political history and jock/nerd soccer book. Dave Eggers' essay on the history of the sport in the US is PERFECT!
Aug 23, 2007 Joshua rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: football fans
a collection of short stories, 1 per each team that qualified for the world cup. A fun read, nothing crazy, was perfect to help tame world cup fever.
Interesting essays about each country that qualified for WC 2006. Some were political, some weren't great, but I learned quite a bit.
Really good. A little outdated (this was published right before the 2006 World Cup), but still a great read.
Ben Winston
Very informative, and that is exactly what I was looking for when I picked it up before the cup.
May 06, 2007 Elizabeth rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Soccer fans
This was a great companion for the World Cup! I hope they'll put out another one in 2010.
Ali M
I got a whole lot more out of the games by reading this book!
A nice account of World Cup observations and statistics.
The essays are very hit or miss.
rahim marked it as to-read
Oct 17, 2014
Susie marked it as to-read
Oct 16, 2014
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Matt Weiland was formerly the Deputy Editor of The Paris Review. He has been an editor at Granta, The Baffler and The New Press, and he oversaw a documentary radio unit at NPR. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, New York Observer, The Nation and The New Republic. He is the co-editor, with Sean Wilsey, of The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup and, with Thomas Frank, of...more
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