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The Soccer War

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  2,222 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
Part diary and part reportage, The Soccer War is a remarkable chronicle of war in the late twentieth century. Between 1958 and 1980, working primarily for the Polish Press Agency, Kapuscinski covered twenty-seven revolutions and coups in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Here, with characteristic cogency and emotional immediacy, he recounts the stories behind his ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 4th 1992 by Vintage (first published 1969)
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Dec 16, 2009 Mads rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
And yet again, another book that taught me not to whine and write about how the trip was uncomfortable, the food was bad, the mosquitoes were huge, the leeches were everywhere, etc etc. These trivialities don't deserve to be mentioned in books. But if you are staring at the barrel of a gun pointed in your direction by a jittery boy no older than 8 years old in an improvised checkpoint in the middle of night, then that's something to write about.
Jan 30, 2008 Petrina rated it it was amazing
p.145: The desk. "Behind such a desk, man resembles an invalid in an orthaepedic brace . . . Furniture divides man from man . . . Upon the desk I have declared a silent war. . . . Many thinkers worry over the progressive bureaucratization of the world and the social threat of its terror. Yet they forget that these very bureaucrats are themselves terrorized, and that they are terrorized by their desks. Once plunked down behind one, a man will never learn to tear himself free."
p. 190: "Today one h
Feb 13, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. The difference between Kapuscincki and the average person could be summed up in an anecdote he relates in this book. One evening he was drinking (heavily, as usual) in a bar in some Third World backwater when a wild-eyed man barges in and starts shouting, "They're killing anyone who goes down that road, stay away!" I'd stay put, might even crawl under the table, Kapuscinski finishes his drink and ventures down the road to see what's happening. Brave man, wonderful writer.
Sean Mccarrey
Jan 14, 2012 Sean Mccarrey rated it it was amazing
If Travels With Herodotus was Kapuscinski's ode to his passion of travel, if Shadow of the Sun was his ode to Africa, The Emperor and The Shah of Shahs his ode to the rule of despotic and complex characters, Imperium his ode to the era of the Second World, Another Day of Life his ode to the ravages of war, the Other as his ode to philosophy, then the Soccer War seems to be his ode to the feelings of joy and despair in the third world. Not only does Kapuscinski explore his own feelings in such ...more
Dec 20, 2008 Katie rated it it was amazing
Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic. Legendary Polish reporter recounts his time covering Africa, Latin America, and parts of Central Europe in the 60s and 70s in remarkably clean and pithy and luminous writing that pounds away until you realize it's woven a spell around you. Alma Guillermoprieto told our class, as an exercise to improve our writing, that we should copy one page of a good book in longhand every day. I may start doing that with this one. Here's a bit in non-longhand:

The whole land of
Roy Lotz
Sep 22, 2014 Roy Lotz rated it really liked it
It was my good fortune that somebody in my book club chose this little gem to read. I hadn’t heard of Kapuściński before, and perhaps I never would have. Even if I did, I doubt I would have read anything by him. A Polish journalist?

Whenever I try to explain to friends what is so enjoyable about this book, my mind jumps to the writing. Kapuściński is just a damned good writer. He is a master of brevity. He can conjure a scene, a town, a whole country, with just a few paragraphs. He can summon up
Dec 16, 2009 Anders rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was terrific. It's non-fiction, sort of a compilation of articles Kapuscinski wrote in the course of covering coups and revolutions in post-colonial Africa in the 60's and 70's. It would've been easy for him to get caught up in the drama of that experience, but he is really good at relating his experiences to a broader context. Also, I admire the way that he can be incredibly concise-- I've found myself in travel writing to prattle on, to over-explain every little thing. Kapuscinski ...more
In his unmistakable style, in these mostly unconnected essays, Kapuscinski looks at the sheer weirdness of the world around him, whether he's covering the death of Patrice Lumumba or the titular violence surrounding a Honduras-El Salvador football match. While perhaps not as strong as his more concentrated studies-- Travels with Herodotus jumps to mind-- it's still classic Kapuscinski, and if you've made your way through a few of his journalistic works and travelogues, this is a logical next ...more
Jan 30, 2015 linhtalinhtinh rated it really liked it
Shelves: other-lit, non-fic
I see the term "magic journalism" that is coined to describe Kapuscinski's writing is very appropriate.
Feb 20, 2013 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ann by: Virginia
"Upon the desk, I have declared a silent war. It is, after all, a specific piece of furniture with particular properties. While many whole categories of furniture may be man's serviceable instruments, his slaves, in the case of the desk a contrary relationship obtains: man is its instrument, its slave. Many thinkers worry over the progressive bureaucratization of the world and the social threat of its terror. Yet they forget that these very bureaucrats are themselves terrorized, and tha
Thurston Hunger
Feb 15, 2009 Thurston Hunger rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: self-embedding journalists
Kapuscinski had the gene that drew him to points on the globe where injustice and violence were festering most. Me, I'll cross over the street if I hear a couple arguing too loudly, and yet I admire Kapuscinski. I also like how he can keep an eye on the bigger scene, while his ear is on the locals, and their own mini-drama.

This book is more ramshackle than others (like Shah of Shahs or Imperium), with several chapters titled something like The Further Adventures of My Unfinished Book. Those cont
May 15, 2012 Dan rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
kapuscinski's writing typically takes the form of a shared personal journal, and soccer war showcases him at his most diary-oriented. it's quite similar to his memoir the shadow of the sun, only less focused and more scatterbrained. there's even more globe-trotting than usual too - the conflict between el salvador and honduras that gives the book its name doesn't arrive on the scene until 2/3rds of its pages have passed, and we're treated to a half dozen stops in africa before he finds his way t ...more
Feb 06, 2016 Maria rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite writers. Brilliant and spare ruminations on his experiences as a journalist covering conflicts in Algeria, Honduras, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Cyprus, and others.

"People who write history devote too much attention to so-called events heard around the world, while neglecting the periods of silence...Silence is necessary to tyrants and occupiers, who take pains to have their actions accompanied by quiet.

"What silence emanates from countries with overflowing prisons! In Somoza's Nicar
Shivaji Das
Oct 05, 2013 Shivaji Das rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of essays that individually didn't have enough material to make a whole book from (unlike his Imperium and Shah of Shahs). None the less, it has all the best elements of Kapuscinski reporting - immediacy, non-judgemental, and thoughtfulness. As ususal, he goes places that are quite a few notches uncomfortable than hanging around the Pentagon or Capitol for news snippets - coups and revolutions in Dahomey, Ogaden, Algeria. In a handful of pages, he manages to draw vivid ...more
Feb 22, 2009 Joel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third Kapuściński book I've read...the others being The Emperor and Shah of Shahs . The two previous ones were about specific people (Haile Selassie and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi respectively) while this one covers wars and revolutions in a variety of places on four continents. The bulk of the book is spent in Africa with quite a bit about the Congo and Patrice Lumumba, but also a lot about Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, etc.

Then it's off to Central America for the "Soccer War" between El
قصي بن خليفة
مفاجأة سعيدة هذا الكتاب
كنت أظنه شيئاً وجاء شيئاً آخر رائعاً

الكتاب مترجم إلى الإنجليزية من البولندية ومع ذلك فقد كان الأسلوب ممتعاً جداً وفيه رواية لأحداث وتنقلات بطريقة أدبية غير ذات تكلف. وفي أحيان كثيرة كنت أظن أني لا أفهم ما يريد الكاتب قوله، ولكن في الفقرة التالية يزول اللبس، وهذا مقصود ولكن بسلاسة وجمال. وهو ظريف جداً وحتى عندما روى موقفه مع بعض الثوار الأفارقة وكيف صبوا عليه البنزين ليحرقوه
الكتاب هو كتاب رحلة وصحافة سياسية وجزء من سيرة ذاتية. جاء على شكل مجموعة من المقالات رابطها الكاتب شخ
Nov 27, 2015 Nine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished this and immediately started reading it again. It teaches me about places and histories I didn't know enough (or really anything) about before, like the titular soccer war in Central America, and various conflicts in Africa, but it's not all wedged firmly enough in my mind yet so I'm giving it another go. I also kind of really related to something that crept up in a few of Kapuscinski's essays, in which he encounters people who in turn know nothing or next to nothing about his own ...more
Kobe Bryant
May 03, 2016 Kobe Bryant rated it really liked it
I would've quit the first time my life was threatened
Daniel Herman
Oct 27, 2016 Daniel Herman rated it it was amazing
All I can say is that this guy can really write. I was fascinated by the tales of African independence, but the highlight was the title chapter which has to be the most affecting report of the absurdity of war that I have ever read, and I have read an lot of them. He really pulls it all into that one piece. If you want non-fiction that opens up new perspectives this is your man.
Sep 29, 2016 Joan rated it really liked it
Through the 1960s and 70s Mr. Kapuscinski, a Polish war correspondent, covers unrest, coups, and changes of governments across Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
The author has a wonderful way with language (the translator get some credit, too) and the book is fun to read, interesting and educational.
Marcello La
Sep 25, 2016 Marcello La rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great travel journal, of a thousand adventures between Africa and South America.
If anything, the main flaw could be that it's a bit fragmented, there is little continuity between different chapters, each of which is actually a reportage on its own.

And most chapters end up not only touching the surface of important events. Probably only the chapter on Algeria is explaining the post-colonial situation in that Country in depth.

Nevertheless, fascinating.
Jul 17, 2007 mellyana rated it really liked it
The Soccer War, lebih mudah aku mengerti, walaupun bingung sebetulnya kapan tulisan ini berakhir. Mudah-mudahan hanya karena kesalahan dalam memperbanyak tulisan. Soalnya ada 3 tulisan, yang pertama berjudul The Soccer War, kemudian Victoriano Gomez on TV dan terakhir sebuah tulisan High Time Continued, or The Plan of The Next Unwritten Book, Etc.

Tulisan pertama, bercerita tentang peperangan antara Honduras dan El Savador yang disebabkan oleh pertandingan bola. Intuisi seorang Luis Suarez, membu
M. Milner
A great collection of reportage, The Soccer War is like reading the diary of a foreign correspondant. For about 20 years, he covered wars, revolution and fledging democracy across the world, witnessing the brutal and the banal. This book is him looking back, a loose collection of memories and events, only some of them connected. What's most admirable is not what he witnessed, but how he treats these events.

For example, Kapuściński writes about The Soccer War, a clash between El Salvador and Hond
Sep 04, 2015 Jan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm not completely sure how this book ended up on my reading list. I think I got it from a list of books about soccer (I'm a HUGE soccer nerd). But it's not really about soccer. In fact, the titular soccer war isn't discussed until more than halfway through the book. And yes, there really was a short war in 1969 between El Salvador and Honduras and it started over some contentious soccer games, although it wasn't actually about soccer.

Kapuscinski was a Polish journalist assigned to Africa throug
This book is called The Soccer War, but it actually consists of Kapuscinski's diary-like firsthand accounts of several different Third World war zones, with only one chapter about the 1969 El Salvador-Honduras conflict. Most of the book is actually about Africa (Ghana, Algeria, and the Congo in particular). Kapuscinski seems to gravitate naturally towards places of insurrection and violence, and it is a miracle that he died in old age a few years ago and not much earlier.

The writing is forceful
Jul 02, 2013 Matt rated it really liked it
"You pay for every meeting with death."

It takes a special kind of crazy for a person to feel compelled to fly towards the nearest war or revolution. Kapuscinski is such a person, and each time in this book he finds himself in a situation where he's resigned to his probably imminent death, I found myself agreeing that yes, you probably should have died. Again.

This is not a detailed account of various revolutions and wars though, and often we're given little context of the situation he's covering.
Daniel Hammer
Sep 24, 2011 Daniel Hammer rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Kapuscinski's has lived his life in unstable places, writing as a journalist and developing penetrating insights about the people and places he encounters. Much of this book is based on the places he lived in the late 1960s in Africa, a period during which revolutions, coups, and charismatic leaders tried to fill the power void left by the end of European colonialism. It is fascinating to read about this time, to spot the obvious parallels between Africa then and unstable countries today, and to ...more
Martina Keller
Oct 18, 2012 Martina Keller rated it liked it
Interesting book. Basically, it's a collection of essays that form a kind of a memoir by a Polish journalist who covered armed conflict throughout Cold War era Africa and Latin America. This man saw hell on earth-- many times over. What I found fascinating was that he very often seemed to have certain status within these war torn, God forsaken places as a reporter from a Communist, non-colonizing nation -- particularly at a time when the Cold War was being played out in many of the conflicts on ...more
Jan 19, 2009 Daniel rated it it was amazing
An insightful view from a reporter at ground level for the coups and uprisings across various third world nations focusing primarily on the rise and fall of Kwame Nkruma of Ghana, Sekou Toure of Guinea and Patrice Lumuma of Congo. Kapuszinski time and again focuses on the absurdity of war and on how these regionalized conflicts never truly solve the underlying disputes but rather become self-perpetuating circles of violence claiming untold numbers of victims. The best case in point seems to be ...more
Nov 15, 2012 Miike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book holds a mirror to the life of one who has seen it all. It is a mixture of reportage, biography and reflection. The writing is bittersweet without being sentimental and the tone is moral but not preachy. Kapuscinski had unparalleled access to some of the most important events of the mid to late 20th Century, this came as a result of him being one of the only journalists from the Eastern Bloc to be allowed into parts of Africa and Latin America, and to witness first-hand an era of ...more
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Ryszard Kapuściński debuted as a poet in Dziś i jutro at the age of 17 and has been a journalist, writer, and publicist. In 1964 he was appointed to the Polish Press Agency and began traveling around the developing world and reporting on wars, coups and revolutions in Asia, the Americas, and Europe; he lived through twenty-seven revolutions and coups, was jailed forty times, and survived four deat ...more
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“Whoever sits down behind a desk begins to think differently; his vision of the world and his hierarchy of values change.” 0 likes
“People have been making war for thousands of years, but each time it is as if it is the first war ever waged, as if everyone has started from scratch. A” 0 likes
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