Alvin's Reviews > Among the Thugs

Among the Thugs by Bill Buford
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Jun 03, 12

Read in June, 2012

An absolutely stunning work of reportage. Buford immerses himself in the scary, stupid, and bewildering world of soccer hooligans - a task that involves attending a National Front (ie. fascist) disco, consuming vast quantities of greasy pub food with warm lager, and rioting. The vividly drawn characters are dysfunctional and often despicable, but Buford is a fair witness, finding things to like about them as well as detest. He's a witty and sharp writer, keeps the investigation moving, and only occasionally indulges in the inevitable musings of the obsessive (why am I spending nearly a decade of my life around these people?). There's a stellar analysis of crowd dynamics and the disconcerting conclusion that soccer hooligans are addicts of a sort and that crowd violence is simply their drug of choice. As to why this particular addiction is so widespread, he makes no conjectures, which is perhaps the book's only failing. Overall, though, this is an amazing, amazing work.
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