Barca: A People's Passion (Anglais) Broché – 31 juillet 2009
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Although it at times extremely well-written, the book could have done with tighter editing (hence, 4 stars). Burns repeats his descriptions of individuals and events in subsequent pages and at time his prose is florid and unfocused. Pretty minor complaints, however. Although not uncritical, Burns clearly appreciates what Barca have achieved. He also questions how the club will adjust, or might be changed, in the new century. Overall, the book is an excellent read, and continually succeeds in portraying the people involved as just that, people with passions and short-comings. At the end, you understand why the club embodies true football, why it inspires such passion, and why it's such an important part of Catalonia. Forca Barca!
So understanding that, let me just say that Jimmy Burns has done a fantastic job helping the reader understand how history has shaped the meaning of "Mes que un Club". Part history, part sociology, Burns discusses the club's history, both real and invented, that pushed FCB into being the opposition to Real Madrid.
Keep in mind this is more than a book on the Club. Burns adeptly weaves the Club and the sport with Catalan politics and identity. Always balancing the passions of "Cules" with the machination of the member's of the board, one truly gets a sense of the depth of history and passion behind the Club.
The reader learns some of the details behind some of FCB lore, from the Di Stefano controversy, the Kings Cup match against Real Madrid after the Civil War, to the famous field invasion that erupted into a pro-Catalunya demonstration toward the end of the Franco regime. Some of the myths are debunked, but in all, the Clubs history is given a fair shake.
Keep in mind - On the downside, Jimmy Burns does favor the Catalan club, more times than not. He doesn't approach the topic dispassionately.
As a follow up to A Peaople's Passion, another great read on Spanish football can be found in Phil Ball's excellent book, Morbo. It touches upon the unique history of Spanish football from it's roots in the mines of Huelva, through the use of the sport in identity politics, particularly in the Basque Country and Catalunya.
This was one of the great surprises of the book. He spends considerable time placing Barca's history into the context of the Spanish Civil War and resulting Franco era. Students of Spanish History would do well to read this book.
Overall, I enjoyed it greatly, and hope to read more of Burns' football books.