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The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup

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3.70  ·  Rating details ·  345 ratings  ·  32 reviews
The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup features original pieces by thirty-two leading writers and journalists about the thirty-two nations that have qualified for the world's greatest sporting event. In addition to all the essential information any fan needs—the complete 2006 match schedule, results from past tournaments, facts and figures about the nations, players, teams ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published May 12th 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2006)
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Brad
Jun 15, 2009 rated it liked it
It's the 2010 World Cup, and I've reread an essay from this book -- or two -- every day of play so far. All of the essays are interesting, but as a book about football, it's a teeter-totter. One day I read about how a beautiful expression of how football can be more important than sex or how an unquenchable England fan can find himself cheering for Les Bleus, and the next day I am reading an article about surfing that happens to mention a footballing superstar (apparently that's all it takes to ...more
David
Dec 26, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: soccer nerds who like The Believer
Recommended to David by: My brother
This book is really around 21% about soccer. It's mostly just an excuse to get writers from different countries in the same volume -- some use soccer is a launching point for greater discussion on social topics or culture, some talk about soccer's role in their culture, others talk about the current history and the context of the tournament... It's interesting, and sometimes moving, but all in all it's a guiltless read to get your hands off fifa.com and onto something paper-based.
Peter
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
A solid collection of essays on the 32 countries in the 2006 World Cup, from a very good group of writers (Aleksandar Hemon, Nick Hornby, Geoff Dyer). The book is often frustrating, though, in the many essays that only touch briefly on soccer. Don’t get me wrong - pieces about a country’s politics and culture can be rewarding, but they’re out of place in a book that’s supposed to be about soccer. But what finally elevates this book beyond the solid-but-ordinary is Robert Coover’s long, wonderful ...more
Brad
Jun 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports, non-fiction
A delightful look behind the flag, color, and jerseys of each country in the 2006 World Cup. Some essays focused on soccer, while others use players and teams as a microcosm for the country's political or cultural place in the world. A book about sports, without really being about sports.
I found that I tended to like entries on countries written by non-native-born authors. Dave Eggers' United States entry is funny, but doesn't really explain America's relationship with soccer today.
Highlights in
...more
Danny
Sep 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is probably a great book to get the lay person interested in the World Cup. While it provided some intriguing personal anecdotes from the writers, it is evident many of the writers are not soccer maniacs as they do not provide enough relevant information about the role of soccer in each country. In particular, I think the editors struggled to find a writer for Portugal so they settled on a surfer who mentioned C-Ronaldo once and rambled on page after page about the development of surfing on ...more
Stacy Jensen
Jul 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Being that we are in the midst of World Cup Fever and I play soccer I thought this might be an enjoyable read. All of the teams that made it into the 2006 World Cup were represented by a different author to write for that particular country. It gave stats and then a personal essay about soccer and (fill in the blank with country). I loved that the American essay talked about how much we hate flopping. That's when the players throw themselves on the ground, roll around in agony, grimace, writhe a ...more
Erik
Apr 19, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: sports
I saw both editors speak at Court Street Books right before the 2006 World Cup. Two of the contributors also showed up, though their contributions had nothing to do with soccer. Um, if you were to pull together some writers to write about the upcoming World Cup for the soccer-ignorant American public, wouldn't you want to make sure that the pieces included in the book had something to do with soccer? Sure, I love reading about the Swedish penal system and surfing in Portugal, but not in a soccer ...more
M. Mastromatteo
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
The idea behind this book was good.

It, unfortunately, fell short, far too often. While a few essays were entertaining, some were listless (and in some cases not much about football at all). I also disliked the English-world bias of this. I would have preferred to hear essays from a local author rather than a British expat.

That being said, I enjoyed some of this and I would like this to become a fined-tuned, more meticulous fixture prior to every World Cup complete with local writers
...more
Scott
Mar 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
What a fun book! The editors collected 32 essays, one for each of the teams participating in the 2006 World Cup. Some are from noted literary fans like Nick Hornby and Dave Eggers, others from luminaries like former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Casteneda, and others from writers I'd never heard of. Some essays focus exclusively on the beautiful game, others barely mention it at all. The only thing I didn't like about this book is I read it about 5 years too late. And that there wasn't a 2010 v ...more
Dave
Jun 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: soccer
This is a fun and light book. The problem is the inconsistency between the authors. Some are funny, insightful, poignant, and others don't seem to know or care much about soccer or its influence. The author discussing Portugal, for example, wrote a very long essay about surfing that only turns to the country and its love of soccer in the last page. Overall a fun read, and one I wished the authors would update each time the tournament came around.
Lewis M
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I started the book on my friend Russ's suggestion. The World Cup was about to begin, and here was a book that made you think. I read it of course out of order based on the teams I liked most, and then over time centred in on teams that had done well at the event itself.

The 32 essays more or less were connected to football, many fun and some were fascinating, but as a companion to watching the event the book made it a little less about the structure of the game and more about the page
...more
mike
Jun 20, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: football-erm-soccer fans, world historians
You'd be surprised at what this book really is -- it's not about football--erm--soccer at all. It's a series of essays about the countries in 2006's World Cup, some political, some personal, all by different authors.

The appendix contains a fascinating almanac of figures regarding the countries.
Myke
Sep 08, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Football/Soccer Fans
An interesting collection of stories from writers and jounalists representing all 32 countries of the 2002 Fifa World Cup. Some of the stories are all about the sport. Some stories have very little to do with it. A good read for any one really. The stories only common theme is the author's personal connection with the sport, their country or both.
Andrzej
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Obviously, very different styles and content of 32 stories. I don't think that anybody could love all of them, but for me the preface and introduction are masterpieces. As a Polish native I can also say that the chapter about Poland is very informative and interesting. Other highlights are Argentina, Australia,Germany,Paraguay, South Korea, Spain and Switzerland.
Elizabeth
Dec 19, 2008 rated it it was ok
This was supposed to be a diversion. However, the title did not belie its contents. This is "the thinking fan's guide" and the section on Portugal (my people) certainly dampened my ardor for my beloved national team. Nonetheless, with how bad Portugal is sucking these days...it doesn't take much to get me to poo on them.
Steven
Jun 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thebeautifulgame
Series of essays about the 32 nations represented in the 2006 World Cup. While soccer is featured in many of these essays, much of this book is about more, namely the little things that make the people of this world so unique.
John
Aug 08, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: soccer fans
Pretty good. A little uneven, as some of the essays are better than others, but still worth the time. It's probably not as entertaining now that we're a year removed from the World Cup, but it'll be a good way to get ready for South Africa.
Adam
Jun 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Football fans
Shelves: sport
Great essays on each of the 32 countries who participated in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Not straightforward sports stories, each writer surveys the socio-economic and/or political state of the countries as they relate the the most popular sport in the world. Very insightful.
Gayathiri
Dec 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Book contains essays on countries that qualified for the 2006 World Cup, each by a different author. Spans entire viewpoints (which are pleasantly biased at times): culture, history, ideology. A brilliant warm-up for the actual event.
Ali
Apr 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
I got a whole lot more out of the games by reading this book!
andrew
May 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book was made for me. Equal parts complex socio-political history and jock/nerd soccer book. Dave Eggers' essay on the history of the sport in the US is PERFECT!
Harper Lewis
Mar 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Very informative, and that is exactly what I was looking for when I picked it up before the cup.
Dan
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
A nice account of World Cup observations and statistics.
Sarah
Mar 09, 2007 rated it it was ok
The essays are very hit or miss.
Jason
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Essential and insightful. Perfect for the non-soccer fan. A worthy introduction to the beautiful game.
Elizabeth
May 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Soccer fans
This was a great companion for the World Cup! I hope they'll put out another one in 2010.
Matthew
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Really good. A little outdated (this was published right before the 2006 World Cup), but still a great read.
Melissa
Jun 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Interesting essays about each country that qualified for WC 2006. Some were political, some weren't great, but I learned quite a bit.
Marc
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
How can you tell that this compilation is clumsily compiled by expats about places they barely know? Because the most compelling chapter in a soccer book is the chapter on Japanese baseball!
Gene
Feb 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: soccer
Loved the concept of the book and enjoyed reading the book. It is not exactly what you may expect, but is worth a read.
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Matt Weiland was formerly the Deputy Editor of The Paris Review. He has been an editor at Granta, The Baffler and The New Press, and he oversaw a documentary radio unit at NPR. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, New York Observer, The Nation and The New Republic. He is the co-editor, with Sean Wilsey, of The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup and, with Thomas Frank, of ...more