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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book Review: "Angels With Dirty Faces" by Jonathan Wilson

Image credit:
Nation Books and Amazon.com.

Jonathan Wilson authors a seminal work in English about the cultural, historical, political and social aspects of Argentinean football in his usual painstakingly detailed fashion.

My Review in Brief:

Mr. Wilson is the Lionel Messi of world football writing. Few writers in his genre are on the same literary pitch. His latest work is an integral read for those love the Argentinean style of play, its rich history and why football is the true soul of Argentina.

--- Steve Amoia, World Football Commentaries


1. Organized Format
2. Writing Style
3. About the Author

Please consider www.matchbook.com as you follow your favorite players from Argentina during the upcoming European football seasons and UEFA Champions League. Unfortunately, this suggestion will not apply to readers who live in the United States of America and/or France.

"Historian and intellectual, José Luis Romero wrote that 'The soul of Argentina is an enigma,' arguing that the nation is a myth, a chimera, a land in which identity is there to be invented... Essayist and economist, Enrico Udenio argued, 'Argentina is comprised of a neurotic society in which its inhabitants feel unfulfilled and compelled to act in a self-destructive manner. It is a society that builds up dreams and, when they aren't realised, looks outside itself for explanations and to apportion blame.'

Udenio's is an extreme view, but it is true that a sense of what might have been hangs over Argentina, a frustration and a sadness that the glories that were never materialized. That perhaps explains why there is a higher incidence of Freudian psychoanalysis in Buenos Aires than in any other city in the world with the exception of New York. Virtually the only sphere in which Argentina has fulfilled its early promise is in soccer, which is perhaps the principal reason it has taken on such immense significance."

--- Jonathan Wilson, author of, "Angels With Dirty Faces: How Argentinian Soccer Defined A Nation And Changed The Game Forever,"  quoted on pages xvii and xviii,  published by Nation Books in August 2016 with a list price of US $18.99.

1. Organized Format

The 1978 World Cup Final in Buenos Aires: Argentina 3 - The Netherlands 1 AET.

There are seven parts neatly organized into 68 chapters.

Part One: The Birth of a Nation, 1863-1930
Part Two: The Golden Age, 1930-1958
Part Three: After The Fall, 1958-1973
Part Four: Rebirth And Conflict, 1973-1978
Part Five: A New Hope, 1978-1990
Part Six: Debt and Disillusionment, 1990-2002
Part Seven: Over The Water, 2002-2015

The author also included significant appendices, notes, and bibliography sections, respectively, along with a detailed index. I also liked the black and white historical pictures which provided reinforcement for the book's theme. There were 411 pages contained in my review copy.

2. Writing Style

The 1986 World Cup Final in Mexico City: Argentina 3 - West Germany 2.

In an era of overall reduced reader attention spans compounded by the influence of social media, Wilson's work continues to harken back to an earlier, and perhaps more enlightening style, of football journalism. His writing style is both journalistic in objectivity and personal in tone. Wilson takes his readers not only on a journey about Argentinean football but also one that imbues a strong sense of what makes Argentina as a country tick: Argentinidad.

The level of detail found in this book is significant, its many Argentinean Spanish to English terms educational, and the end product is an encyclopedic work reflecting tremendous research by the author.

"Angels With Dirty Faces" will become a treasured reference resource for years to come in your world football library.

3. About the Author

Lionel Messi photo LeoMessi3.jpg
Photo credit: AndhikaMPPP.

Jonathan Wilson's Inverting the Pyramid won the National Sporting Club Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, Sports Illustrated, and World Soccer, and he is the editor of The Blizzard. Follow him on Twitter @jonawils.

Biographical text courtesy of Nation Books.

Please Note:

I have received a complimentary review copy of this book by a representative of the publisher, Nation Books. I was not financially compensated by the author, publisher, or by any party who would benefit from a positive portrayal of this literary work.

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Steve Amoia is a freelance writer and translator based in Washington, D.C. He is the publisher of World Football Commentaries since 2006 and published The Soccer Translator from 2008 to 2015. 

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