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- Publié sur Amazon.com
I've been following Spanish futbol since I was a young Marine in Rota, Spain when I first discovered the "beautiful game." The signing of Johan Cruyff by Barcelona soon made them my favorite team, Even though Betis was (and still is) the local favorite in Rota. Besides Spanish football, my other grand interest about Spain is the Spanish Civil War. My father-in-law fought with Franco against the communists (backed by Stalin and the other communist sympathizers from Hollywood, the United States and England.) My study and reading of objective history books about the war led me to the conclusion that Franco was the reluctant savior of Spain and the rule of law, over the attempt of the communists (with the support of Stalin) to set aside personal property rights, and help the communist union thugs to "appropriate private property" and eradicate Roman Catholicism by burning churches and murdering priests. Franco, who was out of the country in Northern Africa felt compelled to return to his homeland and protect freedom, property rights, and the church. We all know that a horrendous war was waged with Franco and his gallant army prevailing. While all wars are horrendous, to the victor goes the spoils. This is true in every war. Over the years, after the war, communist sympathizers never relented in their efforts to kill Franco, and return to power. But Franco was no ordinary General. He realized, the only way to maintain peace, prosperity, and property rights was to set up a strict dictatorship where his plan would be followed. He had no other logical choice. Those who fought with Franco organized their lives around his rules and all went well. Those who remained enemies of Franco, and violated his laws, paid the consequences. No one is saying there were not isolated cases of abuse on both sides of the issue.
I served in the US Marines from 1972-76 in Spain so I experienced first hand the Spain of Franco and the Guardia Civil. I made friendships with several Guardia Civil and had a chance to learn their view point on El Generalisimo. At his death there was a sense of true mourning amongst the people, both locally and on TV.
It has been my experience during my life that the vast majority of journalists in the U.S. are socialists. It does not surprise me that Phil Ball is cut from this same swatch of cloth. The political commentary in this book, which represents about 25% of the text, is decidedly anti-Franco and a bit over the top. Not a problem for me, because I have done my home work and realize from which political platform Ball writes. At first it began to ruin my pleasure in reading about the history of futbol in Spain. But I agree a discussion about the effect of Franco and the war is certainly fair game. It is a matter of history. But Ball's obvious disgust of El Generalissimo, describing him and his supporters with vitriolic adjectives, accusing men who were still living at the time of his writing as murderers (with not a stitch of objective evidence) . . well that seems to be a bit much for a book about futbol. I mention this to warn an uneducated reader who buys the book to with the objective of learning about Spanish futbol, to not be sucked in with the communist propaganda interwoven throughout the book, and to draw the dark picture of Franco and his supporters, among whom was my father-in-law, as Ball and his fellow socialists want you to do. Do your own reading and research and draw your own conclusions. Remember, the war is long over, and they lost!
Therefore, for his effort, I give Ball 3 Stars for his thorough research on futbol in Spain and his ability to relay it in layman's terms. For his incorrect and biased assessment of Franco and the great salvation of Spain from Stalin and the communists, I take away -2 Stars.
BTW, for those socialists who might wonder why I am still fond of Barcelona and Cruyff, even though the city is still a separatist leaning thorn in the side of a united Spain, and Cruyff's politics are leftist socialist, I ignore those things when it comes to one of the greatest teams in the world, and in my book the greatest player I have ever had a chance to watch play the "beautiful game."
Note: After getting out of the Marine Corps in 1976 I moved back to Oklahoma and went to college. During that time I used to drive over to Tulsa and watch the Roughnecks (old NASL) play. One of my greatest memories was watching Cruyff and Johan Neeskens (former team mate of Cruyff at Barcelona and on the 1974 Dutch Masters World Cup Team, and then the Washington Diplomats) play the Tulsa Roughkecks. After the game I was able walk out on the field and walk step by step beside Cruyff as he walked to the locker room. I had a Barca team pennant in the "azul y grana" colors with photos of Cruyff, Neeskens, and the other Barca Liga champions from 1973. I asked for his autograph and he stopped in amazement, asking me in perfect English as he began to sign, where I had got it. I quickly told him my story, and he smiled and shook my hand. I have not washed that hand to this day!
Written as I sit (on vacation) at a sidewalk cafe in Rota, Spain