The history of soccer and its singular place in Argentine society.
Guardian and Sports Illustrated journalist Wilson (The Anatomy of Liverpool: A History in Ten Matches, 2013, etc.) is one of the most accomplished journalists and popular historians of soccer. In this ambitious book, he shows the development of Argentine soccer from the 19th century, when a large British expatriate community introduced it, through its spread across Argentina and its rapid emergence as the sport of the masses and to its place as one of the country’s most visible cultural phenomena. From the national team’s early (and still fertile) rivalry with Uruguay to its enduring struggle with Brazil for continental glory, Wilson explores not only the revered Albiceleste (named after the colors that make up the national team’s uniforms) and its many successes (and occasional droughts), but also the leagues and teams that Argentineans support and the players who have gone on to become international icons. These include superstars Alfredo Stéfano Di Stéfano, Diego Maradona, and Lionel Messi, all three of whom would be on just about any serious list of the top 10 players of all time. Wilson also interweaves the developments in Argentine soccer with larger trends in the country’s sometimes-optimistic, often tragic history. The author has a fine eye for detail and a solid grasp of the big picture. He writes confidently about the sport, including tactics and strategies, but also about social and political questions, and he reveals how the three have been inextricably linked over generations. In the run-up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, a number of good books on Latin American soccer appeared, with most naturally focusing on the host nation. Here’s an insightful contribution about the other giant of Latin American soccer.
A sprawling, vibrant book about soccer in Argentina, a country where the sport is every bit as important and reflective of the society as it is anywhere in the world.