Friday, June 18, 2010

Fútbol at your library

Whew. The 2010 World Cup has been underway for over a week now, and if you're a soccer fan like me, the U.S vs. Slovenia game this morning was one of the most uplifting, disappointing, thrilling, aggravating games so far. Welcome to the world of soccer.

For those who are, at best, ambivalent about soccer, I offer a few selections from the RPL catalog that might provide a bit more of a background about this world-renowned sport. If anything, there are a few great reads here that might just stoke your interest in the World Cup or soccer in general just a bit more. Go U.S.A!

The Game of Their Lives
Geoffrey Douglas

This is the thrilling true story of the 1950 U.S. World Cup soccer team that played a preliminary round game against a dominant British team in Belo Horizonte, a small Brazilian mining town. Soccer was much more of a peripheral American sport than it is today, and the result of the game was considered one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history. A great read that not only provides a baseline history of the U.S. role in world soccer, but also traces the origins of the amazing 11 players who were mostly the children of immigrants from large city ghettos.

 Futebol: Soccer: The Brazilian Way
 Alex Bellos

 Brazil is a hotbed of soccer phenoms, and Alex Bellos does an excellent job of  exploring the intertwining of soccer and the Brazilian identity. The game symbolizes racial harmony, flamboyance, youth, innovation, and skill, and yet it is also a microcosm of the country itself, containing all of its contradictions.

 Traveling extensively from Uruguay to the northeastern backlands, and from the coastal cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo to the Amazon jungle, Alex Bellos shows how Brazil changed soccer and how soccer shaped Brazil. He tells the stories behind the great players, like Pele and Garrincha, the great teams, and the great matches, as well as extraordinary stories from people and pitches all over this vast country.

The Girls of Summer
Jere Longman

July 10, 1999. The U.S. Women's Soccer team wins a battle against China by way of a penalty shoot-out, and the fate of women's soccer in America forever changes. This book provides an in-depth look at this final games, as well as an inside look at the culture of women's soccer in the United States. An intelligent foray into the world of women's sports, including issues such as equal pay for equal play, becoming role models, the media's sexualization of players and the battle to create an enduring legacy of female participation in soccer in the U.S.

Other recommendations not currently in the RPL catalog:

How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
Franklin Foer

"Soccer is much more than a game, or even a way of life. It is a perfect window into the cross–currents of today's world, with all its joys and its sorrows. In this remarkably insightful, wide–ranging work of reportage, Franklin Foer takes us on a surprising tour through the world of soccer, shining a spotlight on the clash of civilizations, the international economy, and just about everything in between."

Soccernomics: Why England loses, why Germany and Brazil win, and why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey - And Even Iraq - Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport
Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski

Despite the long title, this great read takes a precise analytical eye of an economist and couples it with a sports writer's skill to answer intriguing questions in regards to common thoughts such as why can't the U.S. dominate the sport of soccer? Why does it seem that the people who run soccer teams make very dumb decisions? Kuper and Szymanski turn data on its head in this interesting and irreverent look at the world of soccer.

No comments: