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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Soccer Lovers Alert! New Book for You

Book Title: The Game of Their Lives: The Untold Story of the World Cup's Biggest Upset
Author: Geoffrey Douglas
Publisher: It Books
Publisher's Address: New York, NY
ISBN: 978-0060758776
List Price: $13.99

Reviewed by Raja N. Krishnan for Amazon


I grew up watching soccer. I enjoyed playing soccer with friends and then later for my high school team. In this country soccer is considered to be mostly enjoyed by kids. It is growing in popularity; it just has not crossed that threshold or the tipping point to take it into the mainstream. After watching the U.S. Soccer team’s great run in the Confederation Cup this past summer culminating in the loss to Brazil, the most feared team of this time, I was inspired to find a book written about the game of soccer. I came across a book titled The Game of their Lives authored by Geoffrey Douglas and this is the subject of this review.

The setting of the book is about a famous soccer match between the United States and England, the most feared team of that time, in the 1950 World Cup. Although at times in the beginning of the story the detailed play by play account of the soccer match can seem to be tedious reading, the author does convey the beauty of the game of soccer in a concise manner and also providing some history throughout the book. The author provides some of the best descriptions of the game of soccer in small doses throughout the book. At one point in the beginning of the book, the author goes on a smooth ride describing the gorgeous game of soccer. The following is an example from the book comparing the sport of soccer to other sports:

“The rhythms of most sports rely on stop-and-start devisements: four downs, nine innings, eighteen holes-and play is halted, breaths are caught, adrenaline depletes. In soccer, where play is continuous-there are no huddles, inning changes, set pieces, or lulls between tackles or points-the rhythms determine themselves.”

Throughout the book the author appropriately conveys the reason why soccer is an exciting game. Having stated that, this book is not only about soccer, it’s about the lives of the players that were on that famous 1950 US soccer national team. The book gives a glimpse about how it was like growing up in America during the depression of the 1930’s.

Furthermore it’s also about the life of immigrant families during that time and also the family life. As the author indicates he was sharing the living history of these soccer players. Living history……..yeah I think that’s what a good historian does. I thought that at times the back and forth transitions between the soccer match and the history of the players on the team seemed to not flow smoothly and also diminished the building suspense of the soccer match, I think with some patient reading Douglas does communicate this living history. It is a challenging task to merge two different aspects, such as a description of the game of soccer with a history of the players; in this case I thought it was a valiant effort and with some patient reading Douglas does communicate this living history.

I would recommend this book for those young soccer players, and also for those that are interested in the account of this 1950 United States vs England World Cup Match. This is an apt book to consider reading ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa. Also, this would be an interesting reading for those that are interested in history, particular the history of immigrant families in the United States. The book gives a nice perspective on the life of immigrant families.

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