The Soccer War
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Soccer War

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,520 ratings  ·  104 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
Hardcover, 234 pages
Published April 3rd 1991 by Alfred a Knopf (first published 1969)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,641)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Mads
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.
David
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.
Petrina
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...more
Sean Mccarrey
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 si...more
Katie
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...more
Anders
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 gi...more
Dan
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
Shivaji Das
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 portr...more
Thurston Hunger
Feb 15, 2009 Thurston Hunger rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
Joel
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 Sa...more
Jeremy Goldsmith
I am a huge fan of Kapunscinski! This is one of the best books I have read in a long long time. He was such an amazing writer. This book is written in such a way that you can only feel that you were there with him on every adventure. The locales are so interesting. West African countries in chaos, because of their recent independence. He stories about some of the most influential leaders and tyrants as well are spectacular. His brushes with death, his understanding of Africa and South America ar...more
Eddy Allen
cc:

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 official press dispatches—searing firsthand accounts of the frightening, grotesque, and comically absurd aspects of life...more
Joe Strawson
More eloquently written work by a man that's seemingly seen it all. Kapuscinski describes his travels (mainly in Africa) over a twenty year period. The book is almost in diary format; fragmented, with chapters merely written as notes for several books he was unsure about writing. The book jumps around a lot but is a powerful chronicle of Kapuscinski throwing himself into the deep end of an Africa pushing for independence, providing gripping reports. The title 'The Soccer War' is misleading, it c...more
Miike
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 sweepi...more
Daniel Hammer
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
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
Daniel
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 t...more
Touchka
I haven't been even halfway through the book when I realised that I started avoiding it... "What's wrong with you? - I thought to myself - it is THE Kapuściński for goodness' sake, read it and be happy!". But... but this book is not even close to the genuine reporter's fascination of developping countries' people and stories. It was not a travel with Herodotus, it was a notebook or rather a scrapbook of "been there, done that". There was no soul in the storytelling. It was a telegraph of informa...more
Ann
p.146-148
"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...more
Matt
"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....more
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...more
Andy
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...more
mellyana
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...more
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
Kapuscinski was one of the greatest reporters around and his books are considered masterpieces in the use of the Polish language. "The Soccer War" was my introduction to this amazing man and, though episodic, the book has its moments of sheer horror. There's that moment when, whilst at a political meeting, you realise that all those around you, baying for blood, only see the colour of your skin - not your nationality. There's the chaos in the Congo when whites are being pulled out into the stree...more
Rowland Bismark
Kapucinski has more amazing stories than perhaps anyone I have ever read. For all the conflicts and wars he has pursued and reported on over the years and over the globe it is a miracle that he is alive at all to write them. It is especially lucky for us, as readers, as his style of looking beyond the battle at hand and bringing us stories that tell the bigger picture: the plight of the real people buffeted by political and economic winds, their history, their dreams, their agony, enriches us im...more
Perrin Lindelauf
Kapuscinski is one brave son of a gun, and the greatest journalist that the 20th century saw. When everyone else was piling out of a war-torn country, he would be the only one on the flight in, operating on a tiny budget as the ONLY foreign correspondent for the Polish press agency under communism. It is a wonder he lived as long as he did, to record these crazy stories.
Molly
Kapuscinksi turns his journalism into a book. Unlike most versions of this, he doesn't just tell a story in long-form or give an expanded view on what was happening in a given place over time. Instead, he follows the path of his own career -- which has no consistent arch in terms of what he was covering (not geographic, only sometimes thematic). This might sound strange, maybe egocentric, but it's not. Rather than covering "Revolutions in Africa" he writes about the bit of revolution he saw in a...more
Serjeant Wildgoose
I am a soldier and have spent a lot of time on the fringes of war and violence - and recently I was lucky enough to have the guts of 2 years working and traveling widely in Africa. I could sit and talk with you for days and never be able to give you the sense of war or of Africa, that Kapuściński is able to conjure up with a few perfectly crafted sentences.

What drives the starving nomad to hoard the few grains of Aid Agency corn so that he can buy camels to return to the desert that killed his f...more
Lorenzo Berardi
After a couple of delusions ("The Negus", "Lapidarium") my paean for Kapuscinski came back thanks to this book.

Unless other works of him like say, "Imperium" or "Shah in Shah", "The Soccer War" doesn't focus on a same country or a same continent, but it goes (and walks, and runs, and flies) from Africa to Central America passing through the demon of temporary journalistic inactivity in Poland.

As for everything Kapuscinski left us, it is unappropriate calling these experiences he wrote about "rep...more
Ruth
Kapuscinski is the greatest. He is unparalleled in what he does, which could be called journalistic writing. It is so much more. He is so open, so honest. You laugh, your heart breaks, you experience spiritual revelations. This man is not a man who writes, he is inside the writing. I'm not sure he would exist were it not for his ability to write the world as he perceives it. I learned an incredible lot about the nature of war, politics, revolution, 3rd world countries, and I learned it from him...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 88 89 next »
  • Biała gorączka
  • Kapuściński non-fiction
  • Zdążyć przed Panem Bogiem
  • Zrób sobie raj
  • Pamiętnik z Powstania Warszawskiego
  • Rozmowy z katem
  • Gringo wśród dzikich plemion
  • Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War
  • Fado
  • Inny świat
  • My War Gone By, I Miss It So
  • A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya
  • Wojna nie ma w sobie nic z kobiety
  • Traktat o łuskaniu fasoli
  • The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime
  • The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations
  • Medaliony
  • Tomek wśród łowców głów (Tomek #6)
6255
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
More about Ryszard Kapuściński...
The Shadow of the Sun The Emperor Travels with Herodotus Imperium Shah of Shahs

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“pequeños países del Tercer Mundo tienen la posibilidad de despertar un vivo interés sólo cuando se deciden a derramar sangre. Es una triste verdad, pero así es.” 0 likes
More quotes…