Spain’s dominance is remarkable, especially because of the long odds that the country’s history forced its players to...

LA ROJA

HOW SOCCER CONQUERED SPAIN AND HOW SPANISH SOCCER CONQUERED THE WORLD

The story of the rise of Spanish soccer against a deeply divided political background.

In July 2012, the Spanish national men’s soccer team won the European Football Championship, making them the first team in the world to win three consecutive major tournaments. This victory, which occurred after the publication of this book, simply validates Financial Times senior writer Burns’ (Land that Lost Its Heroes: How Argentina Lost the Falklands War, 2012, etc.) narrative about Spain’s rise from its political maelstrom to become the pre-eminent force in global football. Like the rest of the world, Spain inherited soccer from Great Britain in the late 19th century; within a few decades, the sport supplanted bullfighting as the country’s chief passion, the one thing that could bring an often-divided people together. In the early and mid 1900s, Spain was divided ideologically between fascists and communists, between Spanish loyalists and Basque and Catalan nationalists, and between myriad competing views of Spanish identity. Most of these divisions were manifested in the country’s soccer culture as well, with teams such as FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia representing not only competing sporting identities, but political passions as well. But during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, the national team’s passionate style of play managed to bring Spain’s many factions together, if only for 90 minutes at a time. For decades, Spain underachieved on the global stage, until 2008 when they won the European Championship and then the pinnacle moment, 2010, when they claimed the World Cup title. Burns split his time growing up between England and Spain and is thus well positioned to tell this story, and he does so well, with a fine eye for tragedy and irony both political and on the pitch.

Spain’s dominance is remarkable, especially because of the long odds that the country’s history forced its players to overcome, and Burns rises to the challenge of telling this intertwined saga.

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-56858-717-2

Page Count: 386

Publisher: Nation Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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