How Soccer Explains the World

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Soccer is much more than a game, or even a way of life. It is a perfect window into the crosscurrents of today's world, with all of its joys and sorrows. Soccer clubs don't represent geographic areas; they stand for social classes and political ideologies, and often command more faith than religion. Unlike baseball or tennis, soccer is freighted with the weight of ancient hatreds and history. It's a sport with real stakes -- one that is capable of ruining regimes and launching liberation movements.

In this remarkably insightful, wide-ranging work of reportage, Franklin Foer takes us on a surprising tour through the world of soccer, shattering the myths of our new global age along the way. He finds that instead of destroying local cultures, as the Left predicted, globalization has revived tribalism. And far from the triumph of capitalism that the Right predicted, it has entrenched corruption. In his travels, Foer encounters a collection of fans that is stranger than fiction: an English hooligan with a Jewish mother, a Nazi father, and a career as a soldier of fortune; a soccer fan club in Serbia that turns into a brutal anti-Muslim paramilitary unit; and a raucous crowd of Scots who urge him to take sides in their age-old rivalry between Catholic and Protestant teams. Telling stories in turns wild, violent, funny, and tragic, the author is able to shine a spotlight on the clash of civilizations, the international economy, and just about everything in between.

From Brazil to Bosnia and from Italy to Iran, How Soccer Explains the World is an eye-opening chronicle of how a beautiful sport and its fanatical followers can illuminate the fault lines of a society, whether poverty, anti-Semitism, or radical Islam. Filled with blazing intelligence, colorful characters, wry humor, and an equal passion for soccer and humanity, this is an utterly original book that makes sense of our troubled times.


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