Read Behind the Curtain by JonathanWilson Online


Alternate-Cover Edition for this ISBN can be found hereFrom the war-ravaged streets of Sarajevo, where turning up for training involved dodging snipers' bullets, to the crumbling splendor of Budapest's Bozsik Stadium, where the likes of Puskas and Kocsis masterminded the fall of England, the landscape of Eastern Europe has changed immeasurably since the fall of communism.Alternate-Cover Edition for this ISBN can be found hereFrom the war-ravaged streets of Sarajevo, where turning up for training involved dodging snipers' bullets, to the crumbling splendor of Budapest's Bozsik Stadium, where the likes of Puskas and Kocsis masterminded the fall of England, the landscape of Eastern Europe has changed immeasurably since the fall of communism. Jonathan Wilson has traveled extensively behind the old Iron Curtain, viewing life beyond the fall of the Berlin Wall through the lens of soccer. Where once the state-controlled teams of the Eastern bloc passed their way with crisp efficiency—a sort of communist version of total soccer—to considerable success on the European and international stages, today the beautiful game in the East has been opened up to the free market, and throughout the region a sense of chaos pervades. The threat of totalitarian interference no longer remains; but in its place mafia control is generally accompanied with a crippling lack of funds. Jonathan Wilson goes in search of the spirit of Hungary's Golden Squad of the early 1950s; charts the disintegration of the soccer superpower that was the former Yugoslavia; follows a sorry tale of corruption, mismanagement, and Armenian cognac through the Caucasuses; reopens the case of Russia's greatest soccer player, Eduard Streltsov; and talks to Jan Tomaszewski about an autumn night at Wembley in 1973....

Title : Behind the Curtain
Author :
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ISBN : 9780752879451
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Behind the Curtain Reviews

  • Pete
    2019-04-30 21:48

    Behind the Curtain : Travels in Eastern European Football (2006) by Jonathon Wilson catalogues much of Eastern European football from the years after WWII to the fall of Communism and beyond. It reads as part travel book, part sports book and part history book.Wilson wrote the really excellent Inverting the Pyramid about football tactics and is a fine writer as well as a keen observer of football. He also has a love of Eastern European Football that comes through in the book.The book covers Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, The Caucasus and Russia in long chapters that go through the history of national teams, major clubs, great players and great coaches. The political arrangements are followed by the deal and corruption of the modern era. Despite being a football book it prompts the question of why organise football well at all if society is collapsing. In places where football is used as a political tool it makes sense but in corrupt broken countries it's hard to justify running a club well. It does make you realise that well run clubs that are not corrupt are in many ways stranger than a club run by a local rich man.The book wouldn't be fun for anyone who isn't interested in football. It probably requires both an interest in football and an interest in Eastern Europe, but if you are interested in both then it's a well written, rewarding read.

  • Helena Demirci
    2019-04-28 00:00

    Favourite quotes:'Injury time was approaching when Gavrila Balint headed what he believed was the goal that would give Steaua a 2-1 victory over their city rivals Dinamo in the 1988 Romanian Cup Final. As he raised his arms in celebration, though, the linesman raised his flag: offside. What followed has come to symbolise both the madness of football under the Ceausescu regime and the intensity of the rivalry between Dinamo and Steaua. According to most witnesses, Valentin Ceausescu, son of Nicolae and president of Steaua, signalled from the Communist Party box for his players to leave the field. 'A crazy day, a show of power', Mircea Lucescu, the Dinamo coach that day, told me. 'I said to their players, "come on, please, you are professionals", but they still went off. We were left standing around for half an hour waiting for somebody to tell us what to do'. Taking some kind of initiative, the Dinamo defender Ioan Andone dropped his shorts and waved his penis in protest at the Communist Party box, an act for which he received a one-year ban from football. The referee eventually abandoned the match and the cup was presented to Dinamo. 'We went home', Lucescu said, 'but the next day they took the cup off us because Ceausescu had decided that Steaua had won'.'When they made the trip to Armenia to face Dinamo Yerevan in September 1949, Dinamo Moscow were on their way to a fifth league title. After thirty five minutes though, they found themselves 3-0 down... That, clearly, wouldn't do, so General Blinov, deputy minister of the Ministry of State Security, telephoned the government room at the stadium and ordered the Armenian Minister of the Interior, Comrade Grigoryan, to take measures to ensure victory for Dinamo Moscow... When the teams came out for the second half, a sinister figure in a black coat took up a position behind the Yerevan goal, every now and again hissing 'Miss!' When the goalkeeper went to gather a shot'.

  • Ben Cullimore
    2019-05-04 22:39

    There is little doubt that Jonathan Wilson is one of the finest football writers of our time, and he showcases it perfectly in Behind the Curtain: Travels in Eastern European Football, which is arguably his most impressive work. Wilson's blending of political history and tales of some of the most important events in football is both fascinating and entertaining, and he perfectly guides the reader through his travels across this wonderful region. Through interviews and an impressive personal knowledge, Wilson paints a vivid picture of Eastern Europe, highlighting not only its interesting and, at times, problematic past but also the current landscape and what the future may hold for a region in which blood and football are intrinsically linked.

  • Richard Todd
    2019-05-19 21:52

    A superb advertisement for east European football. Well judged balance between history, culture and football.

  • Brenda Stahl
    2019-05-01 22:57

    Interesting review with some cultural pedagogy. For anyone watching the championships right now, this is such an introspective look at some of these countries.

  • Rob
    2019-05-03 02:42

    Writing any book about Eastern Europe must be a hazardous process. The chief problem involves a decision on whether to concentrate on life before the collapse of communism or what has ensued since. Most authors take the former course and so Wilson should be congratulated for attempting to tackling the chaotic, often anarchic, events of recent years. Wilson does well to capture the fast pace of change in Eastern Europe and the rise of previously unheralded clubs such as Litex Lovech and Groclin. The pace of events also proves to be his downfall though. It is quite possible that he should have waited until he was a bit older before writing the book (a mention of a 1992 school trip to Russia marks him out as startlingly young) and it is not clear if he travelled to the eastern Bloc before the end of the old systems, and recent astonishing events such as CSKA's UEFA Cup win and the huge sums dished out by the likes of Dynamo Moscow are relegated to the epilogue. He also states that "..for Steaua Bucharest, a second European Cup success is as far away as a second league title is for Ipswich". Steaua secured themselves a place in the semi final of the 2005-06 UEFA Cup - merely weeks after this book was published. Another frustration is the selective nature of the coverage. To be more authoritative, the book could have been a good deal longer, with a statistics section at the back listing league title winners in the various countries. It might also have benefitted from broad brush analysis and less reliance on the personalized accounts of whichever personality Wilson managed to track down at any particular time (interesting as some of these undoubtedly are.) East Germany - and Dynamo Berlin's run of league titles in the 1980s - is a major omission. It would have been fascinating to have Wilson's opinions on how the likes of Hansa Rostock and Dynamo Dresden have struggled in a united league. And what of Latvia? Their achievement in reaching the finals of Euro 2004 isn't mentioned at all. Overall, however, the pace with which I read this book is a testament to how interesting it is and Wilson is certainly a football writer to look out for in the future.

  • C M
    2019-05-03 02:04

    Behind the Curtain is the ultimate book on football and politics in Eastern Europe. Jonathan Wilson has long covered football in post-communist Europe for a variety of soccer blogs and magazines and combines rich historical detail with passionate and lively accounts of trips to the big and small teams of the region. Divided into chapters on specific countries (often within subregions), Wilson describes many famous historic stories about famous and mythical clubs, games or players -- often in excruciating and at times confusing detail -- but also tells lively stories of his personal trips through the region in which he interviewed the who is who in East European football. While the book is at times overly detailed, and does require quite some previous knowledge about the region to fully appreciate, it is an amazing work that belongs to the best books on football and politics.

  • Andhika Padmawan
    2019-05-03 20:58

    It took me a while to finish this book, since I'm only interested in Aranycsapat, the mighty Hungary national team in the 1950s. And then I lost my interest to read the rest because I'm not familiar with teams from Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina. But the story of Eduard Streltsov of USSR made me able to finish the book. This book is for people who want to understand the concept and history of football in Eastern Europe. Jonathan was able to brought this fairy tale into the book. Well done indeed.

  • James Ware
    2019-05-05 21:49

    I really enjoyed this book, the mix of history and football culture was about right. The ex-players and people connected with the sport that he meets on his travels are interesting to say the least. This really is a must for the type of fan who has a thirst for knowledge on the game in the darker parts of Europe.

  • Kealan
    2019-04-22 19:47

    A comprehensive account of football in Eastern Europe both before and after the fall of communism. What was merely a tool of by the regime became the plaything of oligarchs post-1989. My only criticism is the overwhelming level of detail; the sheer number of players, officials, etc. can be hard to keep track of. And why was the former Czechoslovakia omitted?

  • Michael
    2019-05-03 03:00

    A good book and an interesting insight into football in Eastern Europe. My only issues with the book were the fact it was a little difficult to really get into, and the fact it was quite the book I was excepting, I half excepted it to be a Travel Log/Historical football book, but I wasn't too disappointed really.

  • Robin Peake
    2019-05-09 22:55

    A great holiday read, but not a great commute read - the chapters need to be broken up to help you pick up where you left off. Fascinating insights into the Hungarian international team of the 50s, and into the demise of the great Ukrainian domestic teams though

  • Edmole
    2019-04-23 19:45

    Very enjoyable and taught me a lot about eastern european history than just their footballers. My favourite bit was that there is a Romanian player called Adrian Bumescu.

  • Brian
    2019-04-25 22:56

    Love Jonathon Wilson. An in-depth, anecdotal look at the power clubs, players and managers of Eastern European football. Favorite chapter was the one on Ukraine - love watching Shakhtar!

  • Marc
    2019-05-10 20:52

    A first-time travel writer shows his inexperience by reviewing history at the expense of travel-writing; sadly, this makes for a non-compelling read in the internet age

  • John Costello
    2019-05-21 19:44

    Very enjoyable and interesting