jeremy's Reviews > Soccer in Sun and Shadow

Soccer in Sun and Shadow by Eduardo Galeano
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Mar 30, 08

bookshelves: translation
Read in March, 2008

galeano consistently composes some of the world's most elegant and engaging prose. whether writing about national histories, military juntas, the intrusiveness of advertising, the poetry of lovemaking, or, as in this case, the world's most popular sport, he invariably weaves grace and reverence into his recollections. eduardo galeano, uruguay's greatest writer, remains a singularity amongst his international contemporaries.

though he admits to a lifelong adoration for the pastime, being "a beggar for good soccer," galeano never resorts to sentimentalism, nor does he ever stoop to deifying the game or its players. throughout much of the book, however, he decries the corporate takeover of this most widely beloved sport, saying "play has become spectacle, with few protagonists and many spectators, soccer for watching. and that spectacle has become one of the most profitable businesses in the world, organized not for play but rather to impede it."

despite soccer's modern adulteration, the game retains a most lively history, and galeano, through the use of his trademark vignette-styled prose, recounts these bygone days. "five thousand years ago, chinese jugglers had balls dancing on their feet, and it wasn't long before they organized the first games," writes galeano, outlining soccer's origins, which he traces over thousands of years of human civilization through to the 1994 world cup (and the forsaking of diego maradona). soccer in sun and shadow is a breathtaking monument to the greatness that is soccer, but one that also documents the darker moments that shall forever tarnish its legacy.
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