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This Love Is Not For Cowards: Salvation and Soccer in Ciudad Juárez
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This Love Is Not For Cowards: Salvation and Soccer in Ciudad Juárez

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  605 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
More than ten people are murdered every day in Ciudad Juárez, a city about the size of Philadelphia. As Mexico has descended into a feudal narco-state-one where cartels, death squads, the army, and local police all fight over billions of dollars in profits from drug and human trafficking-the border city of Juárez has been hit hardest of all. And yet, more than a million pe ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 9th 2013 by Bloomsbury USA (first published February 28th 2012)
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Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I don't know that I would have picked this book up myself (though I may have), so I am especially glad that a friend got it into my hands and I really, really enjoyed it. I may not be a huge soccer fan, but after living 13 years in the Southwest, I'm pretty fond of Mexico. I also spent some childhood years in Texas and New Mexico, so the Mexican culture has almost always been a part of my surroundings. I've watched the danger of crossing the border grow, both for vacationers and immigrants. I re ...more
The violence that is raining down on the people of Ciudad Juarez is shocking. The most dangerous city in the world – that is what Juarez is now currently known for. Quoting the book, "The murder rate skyrocketed from three hundred in one year to 1,600 the next to 2,700 the year I got here." "This is a city where you can be killed at any time." Reports of the violence reach US news reports in abstract ways; we read and hear about murders, drug cartels and it is hard to imagine or maybe it easy to ...more
John Gurney
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of an American journalist who decided to move to the murder capital of the world, Ciudad Juarez, to follow a soccer team and see if civic futbol pride could really save a city. Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan thought he was crazy to take such a risk. There also is an obvious lesson to be learned in how the horrific murders of Juarez, literally taking place within eyesight of the United States, have caused the breakdown of a city, the complete corruptio ...more
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amazon-vine
Ciudad Juárez, located just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, is among the most deadly cities in the world. As Mexico has become engulfed in a firestorm of drug-related violence, Juárez rode the first waves of this tsunami of killing, with a murder rate that quickly grew to more than ten per day. Yet in the midst of all this violence, the people of Juárez carry on with their lives. This is perhaps truest when it comes to supporting their beloved soccer team, Los Indios, which enjoyed a ...more
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
LOVED this book.

In many countries, there are several levels of soccer. Each year, the bottom team or two of the top level will be "relegated" to the level below, and so on. Vice versa, the top of the lower levels are "promoted" up a level. A couple of years prior to Powell's arrival, Juarez's semi-pro team was promoted to the top league, to the shock of most in the country. However, once they arrived in the top league, they struggled to stay there. Powell, an American journalist, moved to Juarez
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A hard, great read. An American journalist with time on his hands moves to Ciudad Juarez during the worst of the drug war and becomes an impassioned fan of the local soccer team which is the worst team in the top division of the Mexican league and is in facing relegation. He uses that story to tell the story of Ciudad Juarez, its people, and the staggering violence that becomes ordinary. Powell did a nice job trying to make sense of it and trying to chart how his own feelings changed. We sometim ...more
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I expected a focus on soccer as a source of inspiration for the local community. I was pleasantly surprised that the book instead looks into the social and political quandary the residents of Juarez find themselves in. You feel like you are journeying through Juarez and greater Mexico with the author as he makes friends and immerses himself in Mexican culture. In this sense the book was more of a memoir than a story about a season of Primera League soccer. What I found most enjoyable is the exam ...more
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully written first-person account that weaves the beautiful game through a story of a tragic city. I truly loved the story, the characters and the writing.
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Great book that discusses soccer and the drug violence in Juarez. Excellent writing and storyline. Very enjoyable!
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. This journalist immerses himself in the a Mexican bordertown, and shows how the violence has changed so many lives.
Simon Andrew
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After finishing the behemoth that is 2666 by Roberto Bolano, I became fascinated by the real 'Santa Theresa' - Ciudad Juarez. I researched online, and helped by some handily timed British TV programs about the Drugs Cartels (an episode of Unreported World in particular) developed my understanding of the situation, and utter sadness of the situation for those affected by the troubles whilst trying to lead a normal life.

I've read some further fictionalised accounts set in Juarez, The Dead Women of
Aaron Homsher
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read a mix of fiction and non fiction, add this book to your non fiction list. Following this soccer team in the midst of growing violence, creates an un forgettable story, that is true. As far as a writer going to Mexico to do this work, I'm reminded of Carlos Fuentes book, The Old Gringo.
Jay Hinman
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like many, I've got a perverse fascination with what daily life in Mexico must be like right now, particularly in cities like Ciudad Juarez, the very deservedly acclaimed "murder capital of the world". There are spiderwebs of drug cartels fighting each other - this book focuses its lens on "La Linea" vs. the Sinaloa Cartel, the primary two players in Juarez's murderous drug war - and as you may have heard, the police, the politicians the business elite are very often tied to the cartels, either ...more
I picked this up because I read a lot of books about soccer and because I feel like I should know more about Mexico than I do. The book does not disappoint on either count. In late 2009, Powell moved to Ciudad Juarez, a city of about 1.2 million people just across the river from El Paso, Texas. He did this both to follow the fortunes of Los Indios, the local soccer team that had been promoted to the top Mexican league the previous season, and to immerse himself in what is sometimes characterized ...more
Gus Sanchez
The legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly was once quoted as saying,
"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that." Hyperbole, perhaps, but had Bill Shankly lived and managed in Ciudad Juarez, the one of the most dangerous cities in the world, his famous quote wouldn't be such an exaggeration.

In This Love is Not For Cowards: Salvation and Soccer in Ciudad Juarez, journalist R
A successful author has a bit of a turn of fortune and decides to settle in Ciudad Juárez, on the Mexican border with El Paso, Texas, to follow a newly elevated first-division Mexican soccer team for the season. The cost of living is cheap, the food is outstanding, and the people are terrific-- if they haven't been killed. Juárez during the time of Powell's residence has the highest per-capita murder rate of any city in the world, and it's due to the rampant drug cartels battling it out for the ...more
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew next to nothing about Juarez and the serious ramp up in violence over the last 5 years. The name sounded vaguely familiar, but it took time to realize I recognized the name from all the femicide coverage that had coverage in feminist press. (More on that later!)

The author's first-hand accounts of violence and every day life in Juarez create a conflicted and complicated view of a conflicted and complicated city. Torn apart first by cartels, then by a culture of lawlessness, Powell shows th
Robert Andrew Powell’s This Love is Not for Cowards: Salvation and Soccer in Ciudad Juárez revolves around two of Mexico’s most prominent subjects – its love for soccer and its dangerous drug trade.

Los Indios are the minor league soccer team near El Paso that scored a huge coup in 2009 – they have been accepted into the major leagues. This provides the people of Juárez a glimmer of hope as murders and violence become an everyday occurrence.

Powell describes the moment the team won the game that l
May 18, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
More in the 3.5 range actually, but I'll log it at 3 stars. This is one bleak book! You'd kind of expect that since it is about Powell's stint as a resident in the world capital of murder, Juarez, Mexico, right across the Rio Grande from El Paso. While in Juarez, Powell covers the local professional soccer team, Indios, as they struggle to remain in the top tier of Mexican professional soccer. Indios, much like the city they call home, is having a very rough go of it--losses, lack of salary, hav ...more
Feb 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This Love is Not For Cowards: Salvation and Soccer in Ciudad Juarez is, on its surface, a story about sports–specifically, the Indios, Juarez’s premier-league soccer team. We come to know their players and management, and their triumphs and defeats, as they are followed over the course of a season. Author Robert Andrew Powell pushes the story further, though, using the team to tackle Juarez itself (often called “the murder capital of the world”) and why so many people love and even are hopeful f ...more
Scott Miles
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book. I stumbled across this book after the author wrote a scathing review of the recent FX TV show "The Bridge" on In that review, he pointed out some of the many flaws in the portrayal of Juarez and his writing was very compelling.

I grew up in El Paso, and like many teens I spent quite a few fun-filled nights in Juarez. Unlike most of my anglo friends however, I also had a father who was no stranger to third world countries and who was not reluctant to venture past the
Marty Tomlinson
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely one of the best books I've read all year. His scope is so broad I'm not even sure it could really even be classified as a "sports book," but to the extent it is, it's one of the better sports books I've read in a long, long time. The conceit is pretty simple -- author moves to Ciudad Juarez, the "murder capital of the world," and spends a season living among the people of Juarez, and in particular, spending time with and chronicling the players, coaches, owner, and fans of Indios, the ...more
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let's just start with a ringing endorsement: this is a MUST READ for anyone interested in the intersection of football and politics! If you have enjoyed books like The Miracle of Castel di Sangro, you will undoubtedly enjoy this book too.

This is in many ways a very un-American book. Writer Robert Powell decides to move from Miami to Ciudad Juarez, the Mexican border town opposite El Paso, which has become known as the deadliest city in the world as a consequence of the drugs war in Mexico. Inste
May 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author spends a year living in the city of Juarez Mexico, following the local soccer team, the Indios, interacting the the players, the fans, the fanatics and the people of Juarez. It's not really a sports book, though the team and the fandom are central to the narrative, it's more a book about the city and people of Juarez, how you survive in a city with one of the highest murder rates in the world, where there are kidnappings and executions every night seemingly at random. Powell travels w ...more
Elliott Turner
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was beyond excellent. Robert traveled to Ciudad Juarez at the height of the murder crisis/narcoguerra and walked away with an amazing tale. The attention to detail, both in his own changes and the surroundings, set this apart from your typical "I was there" journalistic piece. He built relationships with the players at Los Indios and the head office, but was unflinching, honest, and often hysterical in his observations. He also got a decent grasp on the politics of Mexico, although he ...more
Mario Polytaridis
Alone who hasn't heard for Juarez or isn't aware of what's going there may find this book has more shock factor than I did. This book has an easily digestible prose with fluid jumps between subjects making for a good if uninspiring read about a journalist who travels to the Mexican town of Juarez situated on the border with Texas. His exploration of the football, corruption, violence, and religious undercurrents in society in this town forms the basic threads of this work which the author ultima ...more
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, reviewed
After reading Charles Bowden’s Murder City in a journalism class last semester, if I’d had to guess I would’ve said that Juárez wouldn’t have time to play football in between all the murders. This would probably be a commonly-held thought but, as Powell’s book shows, there is more to Juárez than just violence and death, even if these elements are intrinsically linked to everything in the everyday life of a Juarense. The violence and death is ever-present, of course—there’s no ignoring the thousa ...more
Mark Edward
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a powerful book, an emotional read, as much about the writer's journey as the subject matter he covered. We learned what a horrible nightmare of a place is the City of Juarez, and how the people of the city don't seem to deserve their fate. We were reminded that soccer is Mexico's only sport, really, and it is really really important to them. But the best thing about the book was the brooding loneliness of the writer, banging out pages and banging out miles and miles of long runs past d ...more
Jay Koester
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing. That's the short review.

Well, all my reviews are pretty short, but I'll say a little more. I've read some good books about the violence in Mexico and, specifically, Juarez. There are some good ones out there. El Narco was one that I recently read that had a lot of good info.

But This Loves Is Not For Cowards is the first one I've read where someone was brave enough to move to Juarez. This isn't another El Pasoan or Las Crucen visiting the Kentucky Club and writing deeply about it. This i
Mar 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book more than soccer, Robert Powell's take on a season of following war torn Juarez CD Indios is an insightful look on sports, people and the toll of violence. The journalistic approach is an eye opening effort when compared to other contemporaries that write about Juarez. No subject is sacred, the femicides, the corruption, the violence that normal citizens of Juarez endures over time.

This Love Is Not For Cowards: Salvation and Soccer in Ciudad Juarez is not for the faint of heart. I highly
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