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




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...


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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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