The Game of Their Lives

Geoffrey Douglas, Author
Geoffrey Douglas, Author Henry Holt & Company $23 (146p) ISBN 978-0-8050-3875-0
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Paperback - 146 pages - 978-0-06-075877-6
Open Ebook - 146 pages - 978-1-4668-8081-8
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In 1950 in Belo Horizonte, a Brazilian mining town, the U.S. soccer team met the British in one of the preliminary rounds of the World Cup matches. The U.S. had not qualified to go to the World Cup since 1934 and, being from a country where soccer was definitely a minor sport, had to field a semiprofessional team consisting mostly of the sons of immigrants, taught the game by older relatives. The British, by contrast, were the rulers of European soccer, considered certain to win the Cup. The U.S. won the game 1-0, staging what is still arguably the greatest upset in World Cup history. Douglas (Class), a skilled writer, is disappointing when he tries to impart an almost mythic significance to this contest on the grounds that the U.S. athletes played for little more than love of the game and asked nothing but joy. He excels and becomes almost poetic, however, in his depiction of life in the ethnic big-city ghettos from which most of the players came, such as Dago Hill in St. Louis and Kensington in Philadelphia, where trust, closeness, loyalty and a sense of being part of something were a way of life. (Oct.)
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