I've just finished a "birthday book" that might interest you--especially after I tell you what I think it's maybe not about.Franklin Foer, whose reporting I've seen and admired in places like The New Republic and Slate, turns out to be a fan of soccer, the world's greatest game. While I cannot possibly approach his level of devotion, one of the things I really miss about moving back to the U.S. from living in Utrecht during J.'s sabbatical year is easy access to FIFA and European Champions' League soccer on the telly. Oh sure, I can still get snatches of it on NOS Studio Sport from this Dutch and Flemish satellite channel we now get, but that's just not the same thing.
Foer's recent book "How Soccer Explains the World," was a great read, although it seems to me that it's perhaps hobbled by a title that looks great from a marketing standpoint, but winds up kind of overstating this modest little gem's intentions a bit. Simply put, it's a remarkably entertaining set of essays about how the sport provides interesting ways to consider how culture, "tribal" loyalties, economics, and politics appear in the humble guise of strikers, local teams and rivalries, team economics, and (of course) fans. If you're looking for interesting critiques of globalization, this might be quicker. Or, if PoMo stuff is to your liking, try this one for size (keep your dictionary handy). But it'd be a shame to pass this great little read by because you were expecting a manifesto.