One of the best, if not *the* best, soccer books I have ever read. It approaches the history of soccer through a series of tactical innovations in the...moreOne of the best, if not *the* best, soccer books I have ever read. It approaches the history of soccer through a series of tactical innovations in the game. If, like me, you grew up thinking the English 4-4-2 is soccer the way God intended it and had been played since time immemorial, this will be a real eye-opener. The title refers to the fact that, for much of the history of soccer, their has been a trend from purely attacking football (2-3-5) to more defensive, possession-oriented play (e.g. 1-4-4-1 or 4-5-1). There's much more to it than that, of course.
Of particular contemporary note is the emergence of "pressing" (or "pressurizing, here in the States) as an important tactic. Barcelona's recent successes in both the Champions' League and La Liga can be attributed, in large part, to this tactic, one that doesn't really emerge, according to Wilson, until AC Milan's European Cup winning sides of the late 80s/early 90s.
Also fascinating is his treatment of English soccer. While he doesn't privilege it the way I might, he emphasises how influential the English game has been while, at the same time, being among the most retrograde styles. As a Fulham supporter, I was also amazed to see Roy Hodgson mentioned as a prime mover in the development of Scandinavian football. (Of course, after what he's done for my team, I'm in favour of having him canonised.)
I can't recommend this book highly enough for any reflective fan of soccer/football. You'll be saddened when you get to the coverage of Morinho's 4-5-1 at Chelsea, because you'll know you are up to today.(less)
I've been doing research into a possible dissertation topic w/r/t decision-making. I've read several popular books to get oriented and this was easily...moreI've been doing research into a possible dissertation topic w/r/t decision-making. I've read several popular books to get oriented and this was easily the worst. The idea that we have "blind spots" is not particularly illuminating and the majority of the author's evidence is anecdotal rather than experimental. Worst of all is her writing style, which would be better suited to a "Ladies Home Journal" article, littered as it is with jokey asides and lots of exclamation points, e.g., "How could I have been so dumb!?!". What starts out aiming to be an exploration of the "why" behind bad decision-making ends up being a self-help book that almost no one thinks they need. (less)
This is a pretty fun book, especially if you've ever asked yourself "why are people such incredible jerks whilst driving?" The author looks at it the...moreThis is a pretty fun book, especially if you've ever asked yourself "why are people such incredible jerks whilst driving?" The author looks at it the question of behaviour in traffic from a number of different perspectives: moral, anthropological, neurological, evolutionary-biological, etc. Ultimately, while it is entertaining and contains a few surprises, I'm not sure it couldn't have been a smaller book. My recommendation: get it in softcover and pick and choose the chapters you want to read after the first two, which are necessary for the rest of the book. Besides that, each of the chapters stands on its own so this makes a good "I need break from my current book" book.(less)
Another of the books I've read recently that focuses on how our thinking goes wrong, in spite of our best intentions and expectations, Dan Ariely's "P...moreAnother of the books I've read recently that focuses on how our thinking goes wrong, in spite of our best intentions and expectations, Dan Ariely's "Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions" is a fun if sometimes unfocused trip through current thinking on decision-making. The author, in spite of some minor stylistic idiosyncrasies, is genuinely engaging and enthusiastic.
One of the most interesting aspects of the book for me was the way it was impossible not o ask myself "would I be fooled in this way?" during every chapter. Each chapter focuses on a different way we make decisions about what we would do, buy, say, not do, etc., which usually differs considerably from the conventional wisdom. It seems that we are driven by a hundred forms of sub rosa influences and hermeneutics to do things that are not only irrational but oftentimes counter to our best interests. The picture one walks away with is explicitly opposite to the assumption of classical economics, that people can be counted upon to be rational actors, to always to do what is in their enlightened self-interests. And I always like to think I'm above these sorts of mistakes, but I think I know better....
Two of the most compelling chapters deal with applied ethics. Against the backdrop of the ethically-challenged 2000s, Ariely asks why otherwise honest people will do things that end up causing great harm. Even more interesting is that the same people will predict otherwise. In other word, a great people have every desire and expectation to be upright moral actors, but somehow they go wrong anyway. Ariely is trying to answer questions experimentally that were asked theoretically by Reinhold Niebuhr (perhaps my favourite theologian) a half century ago.
Ultimately (and I won't spoil the ending) I found the conclusions a bit unsatisfying, but this is perhaps by design. There is no single answer to how we stop ourselves from making these mistakes we are seemingly hardwired to make, but the knowledge that we make them is the first step toward any kind of response.(less)