Yes, this is a time where publishers are scrambling for every World Cup dollar. They are looking to take advantage of the increased interest in the game and the huge audience that comes with it every four years.
Well Bloomsbury has come up with an incredible read in Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life by Alex Bellos. This is a previously released title with some major updates and revisions specifically for the 2014 World Cup.
It is well worth your time. It is a journey through the history of Brazilian football, one that is truly remarkable in every regard. We loved the fact that Bellos walked this journey from multiple perspectives. The preface comes from Brazilian national team legend Sócrates. The opening chapter talks about Brazilians playing in faraway places, in this case, the footballing netherworld of the Faroe Islands. This chapter features some of the best soccer writing I have ever seen. It’s absolutely magical.
You hear about the spread of the Brazilian playing style, something that is recognized everywhere. You will learn about the multitude of Brazilians plying their trade worldwide and the exploitation of their talent in some cases. The dark side of the beautiful game you might say.
You get the usual stories about Pelé and Garrincha, but you will also hear about the devastating effect of the 1950 World Cup. A single game changed the life of Zizinho and his Uruguayan counterpart Alcides Ghiggia. A single moment changed an entire country.
Ghiggia lives with the good memories of the incomprehensible win, but not much else. The small country of Uruguay hasn’t taken care of its greatest football hero and he now finds himself living the life as the poorest and bitterest of the 1950 veterans. This book brings out his story at such an important time.
This is one of those defining books that help you truly understand the subject matter. What seems to be mysterious is easily explained by the great work of Bellos. If you plan on watching any of the World Cup, you absolutely have to read this book.