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Among The Thugs

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Superbly written... darkly exhilarating... a sort of roller-coaster chamber of horrors' Guardian

About the Author

Bill Buford is a staff writer for The New Yorker, where he was previously the fiction editor for eight years. He was editor-in-chief for Granta magazine for sixteen years and was also the publisher of Granta Books. He is the author of Heat. He lives in Lyon.


The American-born editor of the British literary magazine Granta presents a horrifying, searing account of the young British men who turn soccer matches at home and abroad into battlegrounds and slaughterhouses. Buford, resident in England for the last 15 years, set out to get acquainted with these football supporters--as their fellow Britons call them in more measured moments--to learn what motivates their behavior. He discovered a group of violent, furiously nationalistic, xenophobic and racist young men, many employed in high-paying blue-collar jobs, who actively enjoy destroying property and hurting people, finding ``absolute completeness'' in the havoc they wreak. He also discerned strong elements of latent homosexuality in this destructive male bonding. Following his subjects from local matches to contests in Italy, Germany and Sardinia, Buford shows that they are the same wherever they go: pillaging soldiers fighting a self-created war. ( June )

"The definitive guide to hooligan culture" * *
"Buford's reportage is vivid and racy, dropping you in the thick of the madness with a Wolfe-like immediacy" * Daily Telegraph *
"The excellence of his writing takes the reader to the centre of the mob... His words have the fragmented accuracy of a hand-held television camera in a war zone" -- John Stalker * Sunday Times *
"Possesses something of the quality of A Clockwork Orange" * The Times *
"This is an absorbing read, and another winner from Buford, who writes so very, very well" * Buzzfeed *
"Sizzling writing to rival the best of white-heat gonzo journalism" * New Statesman *
"An extraordinary and powerful cautionary cry." * Kirkus *
"Brilliant. . . one of the most unnerving books you will ever read" * Newsweek *
"Buford creates with the majesty of a Tom Wolfe the ultimate price paid by so many for this footballing fever - the Hillsborough disaster, recalled with electrifying eloquence and power" * Time Out *
"[Buford] gtecrashes a social world that most of us have spent some portion of our lives avoiding and brings it to life on the page with a ferocious relish that only someone who was a foreigner to football could manage, or stomach" * Jonathan Raban *
"A grotesque, horrifying, repellent and gorgeous book; A Clockwork Orange come to life." * John Gregory Dunne *
"A very readable, often funny, book." * The Economist *
"His prose is tough and vivid" * ID *
"Buford's book is important in that it offers a far more compelling explanation for the football violence than any offered by the pundits of Left and Right . . . Had Buford's account been written by a tabloid reporter or an academic sociologist it might be more easily dismissed. That is comes from a highly intelligent observer, and a neutral outsider with no axe to grind, makes his book all the more powerful and yet troubling." * Michael Crick, Independent *

Buford, a native of the United States, is the editor of the London-based literary magazine Granta . In 1982 he witnessed the takeover of a train, a football special, by English soccer thugs. He reveals how fascination for this distinctly English phenomenon of ``soccer hooliganism'' led him to follow a group of violent supporters of the Manchester United Red Devils. Buford is accepted into the group and in time seems to develop a sixth sense about impending violence or when things, in English parlance, are ``going to go off.'' Particularly riveting is his account of the aftermath of a match in Turin, Italy, where 200 or so Manchester supporters marched through the ancient streets leaving fire and destruction in their wake. Buford's original theories on football violence, fraught with notions about disenfranchised youth and the frustration of the working class, are forever dashed. He concludes that the English working class is dead, and what remains is a culture so vapid that `` . . . it pricks itself so that it has feeling, burns its flesh so that is has smell.'' Public and academic libraries should have this.-- Mark Annichiarico, ``Library Journal''

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