How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
By Franklin Foer (HarperCollins, 261 pgs)
Franklin Foer really loves soccer. In the course of writing his debut book, How Soccer Explains the World, Foer traveled from Brazil to Belgrade, from the Ukraine to Tehran and farther. He explored each city (and its approach to soccer) and emerged with impressions so vivid you feel he's whispered them into your ear over a nice pint of lager. Foer never tries to cobble these snapshots into a cohesive theory, which is to his credit. Sometimes, he discovers soccer proves that globalization doesn't ruin local flavor as in the case of a Barcelona team whose players consider themselves martyrs for crimes committed against them. In the case of Red Star Belgrade, however, a global soccer team allowed ethnic passions to get out of control in Serbia. Foer doesn't actually take a stand on globalization in some ways, he simply opens the world up to the reader. He has gotten off his rump, humped his way around the world and brought back a kaleidoscopic view of a vibrant game and the people who believe in it. One might say it's a terrific example of the good things globalization can bring to your doorstep.