Short review: The funniest thing I've read since Bill Bryson or Terry Pratchett (and better than both of those because of the pictures), and the best history book since "1066 and All That."
I made the mistake of reading it at preschool. Nine children, two teachers, and six mothers all involved in the playing and projects, with one nanny off in the corner, laughing her head off. I had to stop reading several times to hold up the book in response to the inevitable, "what ARE you reading," but all I got in response were careful nods of "okay, I see the title, but don't see the point," and quizzical looks that said, "how carefully did the father of those children investigate the background of that nanny?"
Halfway through the book, I stopped to text KidOne about her father's whereabouts, as I must, must, must get that man a copy of the book before the World Cup. He's in Miami but heading back to Bogota tomorrow. I should be able to get my copy in the mail tomorrow, then it'll take a week to ten days to get to the embassy down south. Since he's the one who got me hooked on soccer, he gets a copy (okay, my copy, but next payday I'll get myself a replacement).
Long Review: The funniest thing I've read since Bill Bryson or Terry Pratchett (and better than both of those because of the illustrations), and the best history book since "1066 and All That." Seriously, it is that good. I loved reading of the rivalry between the Brazilians and the Argentines, and the French and the Italians. (And it was good to learn what prompted 'the head butt seen 'round the world.') I hadn't heard of the soccer war between Honduras and El Salvador, but did know of the murder of Andres Escobar. That murder really spooked my mother when my ex- took our daughter to a qualifying game between Argentina and Ecuador while they were in Quito--Mom was worried there would be shooting if things went badly for Ecuador (Ecuador won, so KidTwo was safe).
As everyone knows, the world is divided into two kinds of people--the kind who follow World Cup Soccer, and the kind who don't. Those who love soccer need to read this book because it is the funniest thing ever written about soccer and will add so much to their enjoyment of the coming tournament, and those who don't love soccer need to read this book because it is the funniest thing ever written about soccer and will add so much to their understanding of those around them who are engrossed in the coming tournament.
And if you don't love soccer AND don't know anyone who loves soccer AND don't work with anyone who loves soccer, you need to read this book because it must be awfully lonely up on top of that mountain.
Congratulations to Alan Black and David Henry Sterry--you penned a winner. Congratulations also to whoever came up with the pictures--they were hilarious.