The story of the World Cup, crown jewel of international soccer.
Doeden’s very sharp contribution to the vast world of World Cup literature deserves to be on every young soccer enthusiast’s bookshelf. The book, pulsing with cracking photographs and archival images, starts at the beginning, with accounts of the first international match (attended by 4,000), between England and Scotland (which won) in 1872; the first international match outside the British Isles in 1902; and the initiation of the World Cup in 1930. Doeden writes with an easy hand, a little feverish when the action is hot, conveying plenty of information with plenty of momentum. He devotes a page to the recent FIFA bribery scandal and another to hooliganism—less-savory parts of the game—and then goes on to recap the classic matches and the introduction of women’s soccer to the World Cup. There’s lots of captivating material here: Zinedine Zidane’s head-butt, Brandi Chastain’s brilliant shootout goal in the 1999 final, the unreal “barrage of goals” that ended the 1970 cup, the introduction of African teams in the 1980s, the suspected cheating in the 1982 game that allowed West Germany and Austria to advance if Austria failed to score (they failed to score) and keep Algeria out of the contest. And of course there is Pelé.
Mesmerizing. (Nonfiction. 10-16)