Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The American-born editor of the British literary magazine Granta presents a horrifying, searing account of the young British men who turn soccer matches at home and abroad into battlegrounds and slaughterhouses. Buford, resident in England for the last 15 years, set out to get acquainted with these football supporters--as their fellow Britons call them in more measured moments--to learn what motivates their behavior. He discovered a group of violent, furiously nationalistic, xenophobic and racist young men, many employed in high-paying blue-collar jobs, who actively enjoy destroying property and hurting people, finding ``absolute completeness'' in the havoc they wreak. He also discerned strong elements of latent homosexuality in this destructive male bonding. Following his subjects from local matches to contests in Italy, Germany and Sardinia, Buford shows that they are the same wherever they go: pillaging soldiers fighting a self-created war. ( June )
Buford, a native of the United States, is the editor of the London-based literary magazine Granta . In 1982 he witnessed the takeover of a train, a football special, by English soccer thugs. He reveals how fascination for this distinctly English phenomenon of ``soccer hooliganism'' led him to follow a group of violent supporters of the Manchester United Red Devils. Buford is accepted into the group and in time seems to develop a sixth sense about impending violence or when things, in English parlance, are ``going to go off.'' Particularly riveting is his account of the aftermath of a match in Turin, Italy, where 200 or so Manchester supporters marched through the ancient streets leaving fire and destruction in their wake. Buford's original theories on football violence, fraught with notions about disenfranchised youth and the frustration of the working class, are forever dashed. He concludes that the English working class is dead, and what remains is a culture so vapid that `` . . . it pricks itself so that it has feeling, burns its flesh so that is has smell.'' Public and academic libraries should have this.-- Mark Annichiarico, ``Library Journal''
A horrific and almost unbearably up-close look at British football (soccer) fan violence; by the editor of Granta. There's very little football here as Buford follows the "supporters" on their Saturday jaunts from 1982-90. During these years, British football fans and their loosely organized "firms"with their bizarre ties to white-power groups, skinheads, and the National Frontwere involved in scores of deaths, countless riots and skirmishes with police and rival supporters, and untold damage to property in England and across the continent. The violence is merely highlighted by the dozens dead at Heysel Stadium in Brussels in 1985, and by the 1989 FA Cup semifinals, in which 95 fans were crushed to death in a misguided attempt at crowd control. It is that "precise moment in its complete sensual intensity" when the crowd goes over the edge and erupts into heedless violence that captures Buford's attention as he attempts to understand such ferocious behavior. He witnessesand gets swept up incrowd scenes so ugly and alien that the individuals he comes to knowDaft Donald, DJ, Mick, Berlin Redseem utterly beside the point. (Buford observed one supporter head-butt a policeman, then suck out and bite off the cop's eyeball). He finds that "violence is their antisocial kick, their mind-altering experience," and notes that "this...is the way animals behave...." Following his own brutal beating at the hands of Sardinian riot police, a despairing Buford concludes that, in a society that offers little to look forward to or to believe in except "a bloated code of maleness, an exaggerated, embarrassing patriotism, a violent nationalism, an array of bankrupt socialhabits," youth, out of boredom, frustration, and anger, will use violence "to wake itself up." An extraordinary and powerful cautionary cry.
From the Publisher
“A grotesque, horrifying, repellent and gorgeous book; A Clockwork Orange come to life.” —John Gregory Dunne
"An important, perhaps prophetic, book ... both exciting and sad at the core.... [Buford is] a superbly talented reporter." —The New York Times Book Review
"Brilliant ... one of the most unnerving books you will ever read." —Newsweek
Like Michael Herr or Ryszard Kapuscinski, Buford has witnessed events which can only be compared in intensity to those of a war ... an unflinching look into the festering soul of England ... a fuckin' great read." —David Byrne
Animated, witty, and so pungent you can taste the stale lager." —Washington Post Book World