The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer
There may be no cultural practice more global than soccer. Rites of birth and marriage are infinitely diverse, but the rules of soccer are universal. No world religion can match its geographical scope. The single greatest simultaneous human collective experience is the World Cup final.
In thi ...more
Here's what I can tell you about The Ball Is Round: As you read it, you will feel your brain getting bigger. Seriously. The author, David Goldblatt, is not only an expert on the history of soccer; he has an incredible grasp of the vectors that shape world history – from colonialism, to economics, to military power, to governmental competencies. The subtitle, A Globa ...more
Like most Americans, I grew up with an indifference (some would say ignorance) to the passions of global football. For a variety of reasons, within the past two years I have found the sport to be one of the most fascinating expressions of athletic art and have, in my own way, become a devotee of the phenomenon.
Goldblatt is an English author who grew up with the passion of a fan, but who brings to the sport the eye of an historian and a sociologist. The book is broken down chronologically and geo...more
It's simultaneously both too much and too little: too much focus on the big picture and cause-and-effect, and too little focus on the individual lives and stories that humanize history and make it compelling. Soccer captures the heart and imagination like no other sport, but only glimpses of that passion are offered within these antiseptic pages.
Framing a story over six continents and alm ...more
Wow. What a tome. So this is a good book. Very much worth reading if you're interested in soccer, but a few things:
Firstly, it's really more of a history of the world as told through the eyes of soccer. Goldblatt goes into depth about the political and economic changes up to and through the 20th century for pretty much every country and region on the planet. You'll learn about South American ec ...more
To begin with, I really anticipated reading this book, as someone who has been a fan of soccer most of my life, even if only in an on and off fashion. I also appreciate long and in depth books, as this one appeared to be. However, I am so far somewhat disappointed in it.
The book is a survey of soccer, from its inception as an organized sport, its working class roots in England, to its evolution in Latin America and m ...more
--very long, but very well organized. I was never lost and Goldblatt covers the entire world, I mean every where but... Mexico which was weird. But if Mexico is the only country he 'forgets' well it's not the end of the world.
--The book becomes weaker as it moves along, the beginning is fantastic (how football started, why the US/Canada/Aussies rejected football, why the Scots took to it, the spread of the game in Europe and Latin America) b ...more
Everyone, from fascists and racists to military juntas to corporations tries to harness its power to their own ends, but football has a way of continuall ...more
The book is also bleak and pessimistic. The later parts seem to show only the worst of the corruption, social unrest, and disasters surrounding the game. Then again, maybe it's just the truth.
In the end I still liked it. The size and tone manage to create and sustain an epic atmosphere. It is a ...more
As a journalist, he has written for ...more