â€śThe Thinking Fanâ€™s Guide to the World Cupâ€ť features essays on all 32 competing nations written by folks like novelists Tim Parks (who has lived in Italy for 25 years and is a rabid fan of Veronaâ€™s team and who writes the Italy chapter here), Robert Coover (Spain), Henning Mankell (Angola), John Lanchester (Brazil) and Caryl Phillips (Ghana); literary pop star Dave Eggers (who writes about the U.S.); and â€śFast Food Nationâ€ť author Eric Schlosser (Sweden). Of course, no such book would be complete with a Nick â€śFever Pitchâ€ť Hornby (England).
But, wait thereâ€™s more. Thereâ€™s a recap of the 2002 tournament and editors Weiland and Wilsey, like good American sports fans, also dish up the numbers. There are stats of all kinds on the 32 nations and 12 pages of World Cup stats, including my favorite, a chart of all the World Cup winners since 1930 and the form of government in the winnerâ€™s country (1930, Uruguay, fragile democracy; 1950, Uruguay, emerging democracy; 1978, Argentina, military junta; 1986, Argentina, emerging democracy).
This list forms part of New Republic editor Franklin Foerâ€™s afterword, â€śHow to Win the World Cup,â€ť which opens with the question, â€śif we were to take up arms (to guarantee a winning soccer team) what kind of government would we want to install?â€ť
Another interesting chart lists the tournament referees, their ages, their home nations and what they do for a living (Lubos Michel is a car tire sales manager at home in Slovakia, Kyros Vassaras [pictured]is a Greek travel consultant and Mohamed Guezzaz teaches geography in Morocco).
On June 13, four days after the kick off of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Wilsey visits Schwartz Bookshop, 2559 N. Downer Ave. at 7 p.m. to talk about the book and the tourney. Admission …Read more...