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John Turnbull's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books John Turnbull recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of John Turnbull's favorite book recommendations of all time.


Hem and Football

Recommended by John Turnbull, and 1 others.

John TurnbullThis is a hard book to find – it’s out of print and has been for some time. To me it’s one of the most extraordinary fictional works on sport that I’ve seen and certainly on women and sport. I came on it by accident looking for material for our anthology. The principal character’s name is Hemprova Mitra, or Hem for short. She’s a Bengali girl from Calcutta who is chafing at school and family... (Source)

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The definitive book about soccer. With a new foreword for the American edition.

There may be no cultural practice more global than soccer. Rites of birth and marriage are infinitely diverse, but the rules of soccer are universal. No world religion can match its geographical scope. The single greatest simultaneous human collective experience is the World Cup final.

In this extraordinary tour de force, David Goldblatt tells the full story of soccer's rise from chaotic folk ritual to the world's most popular sport-now poised to fully establish itself in the USA....
Recommended by John Turnbull, Steve Bloomfield, and 2 others.

John TurnbullIt’s more a work of history and sociology: the game, the matches that are played, are just a way of illustrating the social forces at work. (Source)

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Football Against the Enemy

occer is much more than just the most popular game in the world. It is a matter of life and death for millions around the world, an international lingua franca.

Simon Kuper traveled to twenty-two countries to discover the sometimes bizarre effect soccer can have on politics and culture. At the same time he tried to discover what makes different countries play a simple game so differently.

Kuper meets a remarkable variety of fans along the way, from the East Berliner persecuted by the Stasi for supporting his local team, to the Argentine general with his own views on...
Recommended by John Turnbull, Steve Bloomfield, and 2 others.

John TurnbullThis book was published in the United Kingdom in 1994 and, to me, it’s the most important book on soccer in English. (Source)

Steve BloomfieldFor me that was the first book that really tried to look at football through the political lens. It was just ahead of the 1994 World Cup in the US and it tells you just as much today as it did then. It set the template for a whole genre of using football to explain a whole country. (Source)

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Soccer in Sun and Shadow

Discussing everything from the leveling of the Twin Towers to the death of the sole survivor of that extraordinary match between British and German soldiers in 1915, one of South America’s greatest commentators issues forth on robotic soccer in Japan, the mass-production of the game as a sign of the decline of civilization, the amazing success of Senegal and Turkey, and how Nike beat Adidas. less
Recommended by John Turnbull, and 1 others.

John TurnbullI haven’t read all books on soccer, but I think it would certainly be up there. Lyrical is true, though of course I’ve only read it in translation by Mark Fried. Interestingly, the title works well both in Spanish and in English: in Spanish it’s El fútbol a sol y sombra and in English it’s Soccer in Sun and Shadow. The metaphor refers to the football stadium, where you can buy seats on one side... (Source)

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