Whether Brazil’s national side wins or loses this World Cup in its backyard, one can be sure that the debate will endure...



How soccer shaped Brazil and how Brazil has shaped soccer.

As Brazil readies to host the World Cup, it also prepares for the world’s attention. Kittleson (History/Williams Coll.; The Practice of Politics in Postcolonial Brazil: Porto Allegre, 1845-1895, 2005) explores the development of soccer in Brazil and that country’s unique contributions to the world game. He also uses the game and many of its key Brazilian figures to explore the ways that soccer, society, culture, race, class, politics and nation have intersected in Brazilian history and helped to create the country. Though Brazilian fans expect to win, they also expect to do so in a particular way, a way that reflects brasilidade, Brazilianness, which in turn reflects a debate about futebol-arte (art soccer) versus futebol-força (strength soccer). The former embodies the idealized view Brazilians have of their own beautiful game, with its individual brilliance embodied in stars such as Garrincha, Pele, Ronaldo and others. The latter embodies a pragmatic, technical, European style of soccer. Central to all of these discussions is the role of race, as Afro-Brazilians are oftentimes seen as embodying futebol-arte even as Brazilian society is more riven by race than the country’s boosters acknowledge. Kittleson organizes the book chronologically, but within each chapter, he focuses on individuals who embody the period’s debates, styles of play and developments on the field. Thus, players take central stage, but so, too, do individual managers and cartolas—literally, “top hats,” but referring to the bosses who run the country’s top clubs and football infrastructure. In the process, Kittleson provides a work of both impeccable scholarship and compelling narrative.

Whether Brazil’s national side wins or loses this World Cup in its backyard, one can be sure that the debate will endure over how they won or lost and how it reflects or falls short of the ideals of brasilidade. This book provides a fine context to that debate.

Pub Date: June 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-520-27909-4

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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



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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