Naturally, soccer fans will get more out of this book than fans of other sports, but anyone who is passionate about a game...


An exploration of why soccer is beautiful and how its beauty (and occasional ugliness) manifests.

Critchley (Philosophy/New School for Social Research; ABC of Impossibility, 2015, etc.) is a passionate soccer fan. Though he is a supporter of Liverpool in the English Premier League, his commitment to the game extends far beyond club and country. He has written a number of books geared toward bringing a philosophical eye to popular topics, and here he tackles perhaps the most popular of all with wit and verve. The author is not attempting a “philosophy of football” per se but rather an exploration of the “phenomenology” of the game—i.e., “the description of what shows itself to us in our everyday existence.” This might initially seem like jargon to some readers, or a distinction without a difference, but to those who allow Critchley leeway, this slim book will provide many pleasures. For one thing, while the author is a deeply devoted fan, he is not a blind one. He acknowledges many of the problems that come with being a fan of sports in the modern day: the excesses, the racism, violence, sexism, and hypermasculinity, the insane amounts of money at the highest level of the game. He is aware of some of the innately stupid (his word) aspects of being a soccer fan, but he is also aware of the intellectual aspects to the game. Even with the philosophical nature of the book, it is successfully aimed at a nonacademic audience. Furthermore, Critchley peppers the book with compelling photographs from the history of the sport that also help illustrate and give life to the narrative.

Naturally, soccer fans will get more out of this book than fans of other sports, but anyone who is passionate about a game and is willing to read a smart assessment of what it means to be a fan will find much to admire.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-14-313267-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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