Monday, June 04, 2007

how soccer explains nothing

"How Soccer Explains the World: an {unlikely} theory of globalization" by Franklin Foer is a fine and interesting book. I would imagine that even someone who doesn't give a toss about "football" would fine it an interesting read. The book takes around the world visiting the often ugly histories of football clubs as a way of explaining globalization.

But really, in the literal sense of the word "explain", it really explains nothing. It does not give the whys and wherefores. Only the whats. I was a little dissatisfied at the end, there's little in the way of binding, the intro tells us the book is divided into three parts, but those parts are not really drawn out into any overall narrative.

The world of football is a great microcosm of the larger picture -- It's a great glimpse of the good and bad of globalization, and anti-globalization. But the "theory" hinted at by the subtitle is quite absent. If you pressed me, I would not be able to even guess at what it is "globalization happens? some things are good? some things are bad?"

Further dissatisfaction is found in its chapter on Islam (sadly perhaps because that chapter was the most theoretical). It was a little shocking, that the author thinks that the "hope" of Islam or in Iran in particular anyway, is a return to the totalianarism of the secular nationalists! (It didn't help that several things have changed in Iran since he wrote the book).

But all that explanation or lack thereof aside, it trully is an engaging and interesting read.



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