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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, and referees—here are essays that shine a whole new light on soccer and the world.
Former Foreign Minister of Mexico Jorge G. Castañeda invites George W. Bush to watch a game.
Novelist Robert Coover remembers soccer in Spain after the death of General Francisco Franco.
Dave Eggers on America, and the gym teachers who kept it free from communism.
Time magazine's Tokyo bureau chief Jim Frederick shows how soccer is displacing baseball in Japan.
Novelist Aleksandar Hemon proves, once and for all, that sex and soccer do not mix.
Novelist John Lanchester describes the indescribable: the beauty of Brazilian soccer.
The New Yorker's Cressida Leyshon on Trinidad and Tobago, 750-1 underdogs.
Fever Pitch author Nick Hornby on the conflicting call of club and country.
Plus an afterword by Franklin Foer on the form of government most likely to win the World Cup.
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Matt Weiland is 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 Commodify Your Dissent: The Business of Culture in the New Gilded Age. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.From Booklist:
Soccer's World Cup, unlike baseball's World Series, is truly global. And with soccer's fluidity and lack of set plays, it's easier to write about the context of the game than about the game itself. The editors, both Americans, gather essays for each of the 32 countries competing in the 2006 World Cup, providing an exceptional variety of discourse and digression on soccer as it relates to politics, culture, and personal life. Henning Mankell examines what it means to war-ravaged Angola simply to compete. Nick Hornby explores globalization as it relates to soccer in England. Sukhdev Sandhu writes about a fatwa forbidding the game "except when played as training for Jihad" in Saudi Arabia. Tim Parks (Italy), Jim Frederick (Japan), Robert Coover (Spain), and Dave Eggers (U.S.) also contribute standout essays. Despite a few missteps--essays that read as if soccer was added only in revision--this is a fine anthology, thought provoking and enjoyable, proving that we can learn vital things about societies through their attitudes toward sport. And there's no book like it about baseball. Keir Graff
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