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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Book Review | The Juventus Story: Black and White Stripes by Marco and Mauro La Villa

Image credit:
Rizzoli International Publications.

Italian-American filmmakers, Marco La Villa and Mauro La Villa, document a tremendous photographic and written analysis of Juventus FC. Their focal timeline is from 1981 to 2016.

My Review in Brief:

This book will become a seminal, definitive and important resource about Juventus F.C. in the English language. It will also provide an historic point of reference for all fans of Italian calcio due to its volume of rare and cinematically detailed photographs. Marco and Mauro La Villa have produced a literary heirloom that Juve fans will treasure for generations: The agony and ecstasy, heaven and hell, the black and white, of Juventus F.C.

--- Steve Amoia, World Football Commentaries


1. Organized Format
2. Writing Style
3. Images
4. Notable Quotes
5. About the Authors

"I had to wonder, What will two Italian-New Yorkers have to say about Juventus? But when they showed up, two things were evident: They are real Juventini. They came prepared (and even surprised me with some of their questions, as these were not the typical queries I was used to being asked)...

This is a story to reveal why Juventus is Juventus...

It is a story that reveals the extraordinary Bianconeri character as it is tested to its limits in a hellish ride that nobody could have predicted or even made up---not even in Hollywood." --- Gianluigi Buffon, the legendary goalkeeper of Juventus, quoted on page 14 of the Introduction.

Please note:

Juventini is the Italian plural form used for fans of Juventus. Juventino or Juventina refers to the singular form depending upon if it is a male or female fan in question.

Bianconeri is the Italian word for "black and white striped shirts" and is often used to refer to Juventus.

"It was 2009 when I first met Marco and Mauro La Villa at Bar Pitti, a safe Juventino enclave in New York City; at that point, the only thing I knew about them was their proven and unbreakable 'Fede Juventina,' passed down by their Italian father...

The film represents a long, passionate journey where my own story as a Juventus diehard fan is portrayed and filmed along with the relationship between my family and the football club...

By reading the stories and flipping through the many images, it will offer you a chance to live yet another amazing and unique Juventus experience." --- Lapo Elkann, Team Owner/Executive Producer, quoted on page 15 of the Introduction.

Please note:

Fede Juventina means an unwavering faith and support of Juventus F.C.

"Both visual and tactile, the illustrated book is an invention uniquely suited to the experience of consuming a visual story 'offline.' Just as passion can be passed down from generation to generation, so too can a book be passed down through the years. It represents a tangible version of a story that we get to keep within reach, and it possesses the power to engage our senses---and passions---in a deep and visceral way."

--- Marco La Villa and Mauro La Villa quoted on page 13 of the Preface from  © The Juventus Story: Black and White Stripes by Marco La Villa and Mauro La Villa, published in November 2016 by Rizzoli International Publications with a  suggested retail price of $75.

"Why Juventus is Juventus..." 
"A long, passionate journey..." 
"Both visual and tactile..." 

The co-authors spent a decade on this project. In my opinion, the La Villa brothers both concisely, and more expansively, answered the statement posed by Gigi Buffon, demonstrated the sentiments of Lapo Elkann, and provided a literal and figurative heavy reminder of the history of Juventus Football Club.

My inital impression upon examing this book was something I have heard for many years during broadcasts of Serie A games: Strepitoso. That word is a wonderful example how the Italian language succinctly and uniquely expresses a thought, a feeling, a concept, that might take a sentence in English or other languages. It represents another great stop by Gigi Buffon, a perfect free kick by Alessandro Del Piero, the flawless elegance of Gaetano Scirea, along with the passion and care of the Agnelli family.

Let's take a longer look at this book's intriguing, informative and compelling content about a Turin-based football club, christened "spirit of youth" by high school students in 1897, which has become a global brand of excellence: Juventus.

1. Organized Format

Image credit: LaPresse.
Michel "Le Roi" Platini in action for Juventus.

There are 352 pages organized into four sections:

01: Introductions

02: The Story
  • Prologue: 1981 
  • Act One: 1982-1994
  • Act Two: 1995-2006
  • Act Three: 2006-2012
  • The Future: 2012-2015
03: The Legacy

04: The Film

Without a doubt, this was the heaviest book I have ever reviewed. The physical weight provides a subtle yet constant reminder of the topic's gravitas.

2. Writing Style

Image credit: LaPresse.
Alessandro Del Piero of Juventus in action against
Marco Materazzi of Internazionale.

The writing style is closer to a well-informed fan's perspective than a more neutral journalistic tone. The co-authors use an economy of words in this book although their cinemagraphic skills are clearly seen. They paint introductions that capture your interest followed by concise yet compelling interviews, notable quotes and a vast array of photographs. Although the book's Table of Contents was comprehensive, an index, especially to locate the various interviews and notable quotes, would have been helpful to the reader.

Numerous Interviews

The concise interviews with Andrea Agnelli, Angelo Alessio, Giorgio Chiellini, Antonio Conte, Alessandro Del Piero, John Elkann, Claudio Marchisio, Pavel Nedved, Michel Platini, and Fabrizio Ravanelli, respectively, provided significant depth and value.

3. Images

Image credit: LaPresse.
Gianni "L'Avvocato" Agnelli with Fabio Capello.

This book is a treasure trove of rare images that includes over 200 black & white and color photographs of incredible quality and detail. From pictures over the years of the Agnelli family, to various incarnations of Juventus teams, compelling imagery is found in generous doses. There was also a notable amount of historic Italian newspaper and magazine images that provided an important historical addition.

4. Notable Quotes

Image credit: LaPresse.
Claudio Marchisio and Gianluigi Buffon in
action for Juventus.

"I didn't know who Gianni Agnelli was so after I signed he called and (Giampiero) Boniperti passed me the phone saying: 'Gianni Agnelli wants to speak with you.' "Who?" 'Gianni Agnelli.' "Um, OK." So I took the phone: 'Michel, welcome to Turin, so you understand we have to win everything?' "Yeah, sure, we'll try!" --- Michel Platini quoted on page 65.

"The results obtained by Juventus are due more to the organization and the intense scouting work performed by many talented people, rather than to audacious spending." --- Gianni Agnelli quoted on page 106.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to spend thirteen years in the team I rooted for as a child, become the captain, and with the rest of my teammates, make history." --- Antonio Conte quoted on page 133.

"It became a huge war against Juventus." --- John Elkann quoted on page 200 about Calciopoli.

"I think that year has a soft spot in all of our hearts because we were part of the rebirth of the team. Personally it's a source of pride and honor having participated in that season..." --- Giorgio Chiellini quoted on page 214 about the 2006-2007 season year in Serie B.

"To me, one game is not important... Every game is three points, all that matters is who's first at the end of the year... Juventus is about the big target." --- Andrea Agnelli quoted on page 242.

"To me the only thing that counts is Juventus's three gold stars. Thirty championships were won on the pitch by all the champions and players who wore the black-and-white jersey." Leonardo Bonucci quoted on page 283.

5. About the Authors

Image credit: juvestory.it.
Legendary Italian actor, Giancarlo Giannini,
with Marco and Mauro La Villa in Rome, Italy.

Marco La Villa and Mauro La Villa are critically acclaimed film directors, writers, and producers based in New York. Their distinct visual style can be seen in their debut feature film, Hang the DJ.

Promotional author text courtesy of Rizzoli International Publications.

Please Note:

I have received a complimentary review copy of this book from a representative of Rizzoli International Publications. I was not financially compensated by the publisher, co-authors or any other party who would benefit from a positive review.

I would like to thank Rizzoli International Publications and juvestory.it for the kind use of their promotional photographs in this article.

Related Book Reviews and Articles at World Football Commentaries

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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