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Soccer in Sun and Shadow

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  6,096 ratings  ·  673 reviews
In this witty and rebellious history of world soccer, award-winning writer Eduardo Galeano searches for the styles of play, players, and goals that express the unique personality of certain times and places.

In Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Galeano takes us to ancient China, where engravings from the Ming period show a ball that could have been designed by Adidas to Victorian
Paperback, 298 pages
Published August 6th 2013 by Bold Type Books (first published 1995)
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Sevak Ghazaryan I would say from 18+

Not because a young person couldn't read it, but an older person would identify more with it as there are a lot of stories about …more
I would say from 18+

Not because a young person couldn't read it, but an older person would identify more with it as there are a lot of stories about the origins of soccer and how South America is the home of soccer and how it can shape a person's life.(less)
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"Some people think that football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that."

Bill Shankly, the legendary Liverpool manager & an immortal figure in footballing history, was not much off the mark with this famous quote of his. And Eduardo Galeano's book seems to reverberate that sentiment, though in much spectacular detail.

"Soccer in Sun and Shadow" is easily the most beautiful book written on the Beautiful Game in every respect. Beauty lies in simplicity & the j
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a relative newcomer to soccer, I found this book to be an interesting look at The Beautiful Game. With an emphasis on soccer in the Americas, it is a lament for the play and the heroes of the past. I recognized few of the names the author mentioned, but I understood what he was talking about. Like all sports today, it is big business. Has it lost its soul? Perhaps. I still enjoy watching, even if it is on television. I am sure Galeano knows of what he speaks about the finances and corruption. ...more
Talal Ahmed
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amani Hafs
Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
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How can I explain what is to be a madridista
How can I explain pain...If you don't know what is like to lose in round for six years in row!
How can I explain pleasure...if you have never won a classico!
How can I explain impotence...if you have never been denied a victory by the post!
How can I explain pride...if you don't know what lifting 9 European cups feels like!
How can I explain rage...if you have never lost the ball that deiced the game!
How can I explain unity...if you have never
Praveen SR
Jun 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Had read quite a few excerpts from this book, especially during the World Cup seasons. Galeano's prose can turn even the most mundane into a thing of beauty. So, imagine when he writes about something as beautiful as football. In the form of short notes, similar to his 'Days and Nights of Love and War' (the subject of which is starkly different), the book brings alive the history of the sport and the moments and the people which make it what it is. ...more
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
With the World Cup about to start, I thought now would be a good time to read the late Eduardo Galeano’s personal history of world football. Unfortunately, whilst I enjoyed the early stages of this book, I felt it deteriorated as it went on.

This definitely isn’t for anyone looking for a factual history of the game (I wasn’t). It’s an idiosyncratic story told through a series of vignettes that the author wanted to highlight, and most of them relate to his own country of Uruguay. The reference to
An acknowledged classic of football literature, although I confess it took me time to warm to it. The first half felt a bit too much like similar digests I read in childhood, Football Rongo and Cricket Rongo published by Sheba Prokashoni in the Bangladesh of the 1980s, equally episodic and disjointed. If there is any merit in that first half, it is for its deep dive into Latin American soccer in the pre-modern era, a history that is not easy to come by elsewhere.

But as he leaves rose-tinted (ev
Sotiris Karaiskos
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For this book I had heard many good words and I knew it was considered one of the best books on football. It was not a few times, indeed, that I read excerpts from this book in sports articles. For this, as a football fan, I felt compelled to read it.

It is, in the end, an excellent book, full of beautiful football moments, narrated by the writer with nostalgia and romantic mood. At the same time, however, it is trying to defend the sport against those who reject it as something harmful, as a too
Mar 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translation
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 begg
Jul 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading this throughout this year's World Cup to give me more insight into global fútbol. Galeano's book delivered that and much more by speaking directly to how commercialization, racial prejudice and border politics have impacted soccer and its fans.

Rather than falling into the pit of self-destructive despair, Galeano balances the line between historical retelling and personal storytelling to extend the readers imagination to beyond the page, and imagine a world where a simple child
Feb 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I fell in love with this book at the opening paragraph. I fell in love so hard with this book that a naughty part of me considered stealing it from the library. Note: I returned the book to the library, on time even. :)

I could see, if one has absolutely no interest in soccer, how a person could not be in love with this book. But I am a huge soccer fan, so not only does this book hold general interest for me, but it is also written beautifully. Galeano's masterpiece is a brief history of soccer f
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book was a joy to read. Galeano collected close to a 100 short essays about football. And they are beautiful to read and I can only imagine that they are more beautiful in the original Spanish. (I wished the translator had called the sport 'football' instead of 'soccer' but I suppose they were marketing it for the American audience.)

Galeano loves football. And he also hated the men who ran it. And not just recently, but from a very long time ago. Intellectuals in South America usually weren
Michael Greening
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
Football as poetry...
Liz Mayhew
A love letter to football - Galeano writes pure poetry.

Well-informed sources in Miami were announcing the imminent fall of Fidel Castro, it was only a matter of hours.
Shreya Shree
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Well-informed sources in Miami were announcing the imminent fall of Fidel Castro, it was only a matter of hours.'
If you are wondering what a line about the rise and fall of political leaders is doing in a book on Soccer, let me warn you this is just one of the multitudes written in here. Although I haven't escaped the many short stories and excerpts about famous players and famous landmarks in the history of various sports, this is the first book I've read on the history of any sport. And I th
Dec 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Twenty pages in, I muttered a long, slow, "sshhhhhhiiiiiiiit".

I couldn't help it. It just slipped out. And my wife, reading her own book in the other room, turned quickly to ask what was wrong. I tried to explain that nothing was wrong, that everything was right. But in the moment I couldn't say it, couldn't explain it, couldn't find the words. All I could do was stammer, grab a pencil and hold it close as I drank deep from every page. For the first time since I got my last degree I marked up t
Kirti Upreti
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How do I even begin?! I fear even uttering His name, for it might be sacrilegious. This man - born some five decades before I did and long gone - casts a spell on me with words that He chose several years before I even knew about His existence. Reading Him feels like lying inebriated in some captivity that you never want to get out of. All these feelings, all this high is when He simply writes about history, oppression, myths or football.

If there is one mystery that I have unravelled about His m
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’d been holding off on reading this book until the convergence of the World Cup and my summer vacation. Last week was that special week. Galeano’s brilliant prose conveys the beauty, and occasional ugliness, of the world’s most popular sport. The short segments make it easy to read a bit at a time, but I couldn’t put it down. Although he writes about players and teams from around the world, as an Uruguayan, his stories unsurprisingly focus mostly on South American teams.

The chronological develo
May 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Galeano manages to weave the dirty history of South American dictatorships (propped up by the US) and fascism into a flowing collection of short tales based around World Cups and other important games in soccer's history. It's fantastic, a look at the growth of soccer and how soccer pride and success intersects with the history of South America through a Uruguayan soccer fan's eyes - if you want it to be.

If you want the book to be striking prose (or nicely-translated prose?) about the Beautiful
Umang Jethva
Eduardo Galeano must have been an excellent commentator and not just a fan, but an admirer of football ( i just can't bear to call it soccer). His genuine love for the game reflects so well in this book. He chronicles everything there is to know about football since the first World Cup in this book. He makes the reader revisit every important incident that took place in football. And he chips in relevant pieces of information about that particular era as well along the way. Reading this book is ...more
Jan 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
After reading Galeano's trilogy Memory of Fire, I was curious to find out how he wrote about some other topic. Soccer in Sun and Shadow has very funny and entertaining stories about football. I've never been a fan of football, yet I liked this book and learned more about history, different countries, different players. ...more
Mohammed Rasheen
this is a book in name of Football - for the love of football,
Eduardo Galeano narrates this as a super-awesome grandfather,who tell about the glory days of football to his grandchild.
this book is a great mix of humour,tragedy,other various kinds of emotions and way too many inspirational moments. Perfect book as a tribute to the greatest game on the planet.
Oliver Bateman
Jan 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An impressionistic, impassioned history of the sport written through a series of poignant vignettes, and a bold way forward for cultural studies scholars obsessed with footnotes and the illusion of scholarly distance.
Jun 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eduardo Galeano is one of the most lyrical writers I have ever had the joy of reading.

Simultaneously an ode to, and lament for, the beautiful game, this took me on a rollercoaster of emotions.

The book is structured loosely, with many single page "chapters". Galeano takes the reader through the entire history of football- its gods and villains, its martyrs and saints, its ups and downs, and its moments of beauty- and there is never a dull moment. The way he described certain players or goals wo
Bryan Williams
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reading this novel was a great way to get in the mood for the World Cup!
I immensely enjoyed the anecdotes describing the good and bad things that are part and parcel of the beautiful game in the author’s native country Uruguay, South America and callbacks to huge events that occurred at previous World Cups.
Having to read the word “soccer” so many times was off putting for me though!
Harry Rutherford
Soccer in Sun and Shadow is a string of hundreds of little vignettes, pen portraits, anecdotes, and mini-essays, each with it’s own heading, sometimes two or three pages long but often just a couple of paragraphs. Some are about broader subjects, like crowd violence or tactics or the commercialisation of the game; others about a particular player or game or even a single memorable goal. They’re arranged in chronological order, so they form a sort of idiosyncratic history of the game according to ...more
Johnny Lyne
Nov 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure about this for the first 25 odd pages though I ended up really liking it. Another great history book and not just the history of football. I enjoyed the structure of placing 20th century history in world cup cycles which seemed a really effective way of telling the story of the last 100 years. My favourite aspect of this book was the perspective of the author, both on football and history. It felt like he was constantly trying to dismantle my European perspective on everything, whi ...more
Mar 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love soccer, people who love poetry, people who love neither poetry nor soccer
This book reminded me of hanging out at the corner store, watching old men play dominios and talk about soccer. (This image represents a solid third of my childhood.) Grouchy old men, and their step-by-step reconstruction of soccer goals that happened in countries they would never visit, by players they had never seen.

That is almost exactly what this book is- a history of the beautiful game from its first stumbling steps to the greatest goals of every world cup since 1921. There are quick aside
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A collection of short remembrances of soccer players, tournaments, and goals, written in an overwrought impressionistic style (for Gerd Muller, for example, he writes "the net was the bridal veil of an irresistible girl. In front of the open goal he licked his chops. And in one fell swoop he stood naked, then bit" (144)). Whether his style is insufferable or delightful, at the end of the day Galeano is the tiresome sports fan in the grips of the tyranny of nostalgia who believes the game peaked ...more
Jason Burke Murphy
These short essays feature some of the best efforts to describe what it is about the game and the spectacle of soccer that makes it so compelling.

I am reminded of the better dance reviews I have read. Though most of those do not go into what is represented by a club or national team. Soccer matches have provoked discussions of identity, class, race, and nationality for a hundred years.

One would also gain insight here into the mindset of Uruguay and the rest of Latin America.

Galeano's melancho
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Eduardo Galeano was a Uruguayan journalist, writer and novelist. His best known works are Memoria del fuego (Memory of Fire Trilogy, 1986) and Las venas abiertas de América Latina (Open Veins of Latin America, 1971) which have been translated into twenty languages and transcend orthodox genres: combining fiction, journalism, political analysis, and history.

The author himself has proclaimed his ob

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“The Stadium

Have you ever entered an empty stadium? Try it. Stand in the middle of the field and listen. There is nothing less empty than an empty stadium. There is nothing less mute than stands bereft of spectators.

At Wembley, shouts from the 1966 World Cup, which England won, still resound, and if you listen very closely you can hear groans from 1953 when England fell to the Hungarians. Montevideo’s Centenario Stadium sighs with nostalgia for the glory days of Uruguayan soccer. Maracanã is still crying over Brazil’s 1950 World Cup defeat. At Bombonera in Buenos Aires, drums boom from half a century ago. From the depths of Azteca Stadium, you can hear the ceremonial chants of the ancient Mexican ball game. The concrete terraces of Camp Nou in Barcelona speak Catalan, and the stands of San Mamés in Bilbao talk in Basque. In Milan, the ghosts of Giuseppe Meazza scores goals that shake the stadium bearing his name. The final match of the 1974 World Cup, won by Germany, is played day after day and night after night at Munich’s Olympic Stadium. King Fahd Stadium in Saudi Arabia has marble and gold boxes and carpeted stands, but it has no memory or much of anything to say.”
“Han pasado los años, y a la larga he terminado por asumir mi identidad: yo no soy más que un mendigo de buen fútbol. Voy por el mundo sombrero en mano, y en los estadios suplico: una linda jugadita, por amor de Dios. Y cuando el buen fútbol ocurre, agradezco el milagro sin que me importe un rábano cuál es el club o el país que me lo ofrece.” 14 likes
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