Among the Thugs

Among the Thugs

by Bill Buford


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They have names like Barmy Bernie, Daft Donald, and Steamin' Sammy. They like lager (in huge quantities), the Queen, football clubs (especially Manchester United), and themselves. Their dislike encompasses the rest of the known universe, and England's soccer thugs express it in ways that range from mere vandalism to riots that terrorize entire cities. Now Bill Buford, editor of the prestigious journal Granta, enters this alternate society and records both its savageries and its sinister allure with the social imagination of a George Orwell and the raw personal engagement of a Hunter Thompson.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679745358
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/28/1993
Series: Vintage Departures Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 121,186
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.74(d)

About the Author

Bill Buford is a staff writer and the European correspondent for The New Yorker. He was the fiction editor of the magazine for eight years, from April 1995 to December 2002. Before that Bill edited Granta magazine for 16 years and, in 1989, became the publisher of Granta Books. He has edited three anthologies: The Best of Granta TravelThe Best of Granta Reportage, and The Granta Book of the Family. Bill is also the author of Among the Thugs, a highly personal nonfiction account of crowd violence and British soccer hooliganism.

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Among the Thugs 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
debnance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I¿m not really much of a sports fan, but, after reading this book, I can see that I WILL NEVER ATTEND A SOCCER MATCH. I was astonished, flabbergasted; I can honestly say I never dreamed there were people like this in our world. Buford attends soccer games with the most diehard of fans, fans that throw beer bottles at their opponents, fans that run amok, fans that set fires in the stands, fans that urinate out the windows of their tour buses, fans that steal from vendor in their opponents¿ cities¿.I was shocked to read this book.
kendrak on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is all right, but not great. It is clear that hanging out with the firms was something exotic for Buford, and that it had little to do with team loyalty. I guess he didn't really convey anything about the fans, just the violent yobs, which got old after a while.
NLspellcheck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this entertaining travel account, Bill Buford explores what happens when fandom becomes much more than passing time. It is a way of living. I am an American soccer player and fan, so this book, while resting on the shelf, immediately appealed to me. I quickly became immersed as the author detailed the horrific imagery. At the same time, I was enamored by the sheer pride the fans had for their team, hometown, and culture. In conclusion, I highly recommend this book, you will never again think of sports fans in the same way.
dwfree on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the best books ostensibly about sports I have read.
bas615 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is mesmerizing and disgusting, frightening and fascinating. I haven't read a book as quickly in a long time. Buford puts himself right there and tests the line for acceptable behaviour for a journalist. He makes connections with people most of us would not go within 10 yards of. He is rewarded by in-depth insights into this movement. Whatever you want to call the movement is a deeply disturbing arrangement that raises unanswerable questions. This is not a society with large differences from my own and the violence is incomprehensible to me. Yet, we are left so close to that edge that I begin to worry that I may wind up over the edge unconsciously.Even if I can assure myself i am not going to do these terrible things, I cannot ignore that this is a developed nation that regularly descends into absolute chaos because of fans of a sport. The violence in the slums of Lagos or Port-au-Prince is "over there". This is not, this is people like my neighbors. Who in my neighborhood is going to suck out a policeman's eyeball and then go eat dinner with his wife? I dont know...Bottomline, Buford does an absolutely wonderful job of bringing this world to life. He makes clear that this world is our world. His writing is concise and his personal responses are spot on and enhance the book greatly. I highly recommend this book as a well written study of a culture that needs to be examined.
jiles2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is not so much about soccer, but rather about soccer culture in England. An interesting read, but it sentimentalizes the violence surrounding an ordinary soccer match. The class society is front and center, something which is a bit foreign to my American eyes. We like our class-based hypocrisy to be hidden in the shadows, not placed in view, for all the world to see. Each time a grizzled old veteran steps up and talks about how it used to be, it makes me sad I never saw it, but glad that it's no longer that way. If you've ever seen "Football Factories", this book makes an interesting accompaniment.
GingerbreadMan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the late 80-ies, Buford, an American living in England happens to find himself on a Liverpool supporter train somewhere in Wales. The experience is smelly, loud, violent, scary and disgusting. It¿s the heyday of British football violence, and things are happening at virtually every game, both home and abroad. And Buford finds himself asking the question what it is that makes young men run amok every Saturday all over the country ¿ and why the fact that they do is more or less looked upon as some sort of natural disaster. The interest quickly becomes an obsession, and Buford spends years watching games in packed cages, and running with the firms and hooligans. And after being in the middle of the horrorshow when Man U:s Red Devils trash Turin, sending over sixty people to hospital, he is even accepted as someone who can be let in on the truth: It is about the violence, not the game, of course it is. At times Buford tries to quit, but even though he¿s never a part of the violence himself, he finds it very difficult to leave. He¿s become addicted to the sweat, the piss, the blood.You might need some utterly basic knowledge about football to fully appreciate this book, know just a little bit about European teams and their connotations. But mostly this is a fascinating read about how groups work. How a group makes collective decisions and how it channels it¿s energy. On top of this, Buford is a very good stylist, with a nail-biting ability to describe frozen moments like the very second a crowd becomes a violent mob. One should be warned that the violence described is extremely graphic and detailed. This is at times a very disturbing book. At times, I feel an intense relief that the book is dated. We have come a long way in these twenty years. Still, in Sweden , the firms are on the rise again, and I know many who hesitate to bring their kids to the high risk games and derbys.Among the thugs is part freakshow, part horror story and part journalism, and should be of interest to anyone in groups and psychology. Football interest is optional.
mtablue345 More than 1 year ago
A dated book, back when the Brits ran the streets with fists and beers, but still a good look at that time. The cover is a little depressing, and the lives of the thugs are depressing as well, but that's what the book is about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome. More about the human spirit than soccer.
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Jon_B More than 1 year ago
Compelling if disturbing read.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Buford's look into the seedy underworld of that segment of England's football supporters' spotty past, is well worth a read. Humorous at times, shocking at others, Buford finds a thread that doesn't unravel the mystery of the violence witnessed in soccer stadiums across England, but chronicles his movements as a mostly welcomed outsider, allowed to travel with the true thugs he attempts to understand. While his journey is entertaining, it is disturbing to the same degree. Why does he spend so much time with the hooligans? He is not an anthropologist, but merely a writer who is interested in the behavior of people in mob situations and attempts to make some sense of it. In the end, he does not come to an explanatory conclusion that satisfies the depth of his interest in the mob, and thankfully the story ends just as he runs out of energy for telling it. Unfortunately, we are left with the unanswered question of why soccer hooligans looted stores, vandalized cars, started fights with opposing team supporters and a host of other things. Could they get their motivation from the same source that prompts hockey spectators to beat on the plexiglass wall separating them from the players when a puck is trapped in the corner, or that allows fathers at their kids baseball games to fight other kid's fathers over a missed call, or that causes much of America to watch any one of the proliferation of 'real' police-in-action or Jerry Springer-type telvision shows? Buford's look into that world gives us cause for reflection and introspection. What causes a normal, happy blue collar worker with a family to behave much like a criminal simply because of his attendance at a football match on a Sunday? Perhaps if you read the Buford's book, you'll come closer to that answer which is one worth asking. Hold on tight though, because it will take you for a ride.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A friend of mine at work recommended this to me. My eyes got wide and I swiped it from his hand with a big grin on my face. This is one of those extremely cool (I should start using a thesaurus to improve my vocabulary but hey I'm a Hooligan) cultural studies/sociology books that are actually about something interesting. Bill Buford moved to the UK in '77 (or so he says) and had never been to a football match and became obsessed with these Football Hooligans storming around and causing trouble almost everywhere they went. SO he decides to get to know some of these goons, hooligans, 'terrace terrors' and thugs and write a book about them. The end result is pretty damn satisfying. Yeah there are some points where he starts in on 'blah, blah, society, blah, blah...' but those are few and far between and not that dull. For the most part he sticks to the good stuff: drinkin', fightin', swearin', and just being a Hooligan Youth! I'd give this book two thumbs up but I've got beer in both hands. Cheers, Joshua.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bill Buford, a naive American adrift in England, tackles a very dicey subject: Mob violence by English football fans. He starts out innocently enough, trying to find the allure, cause, nature, basis, and form of England's notorious football hooligans, but soon has difficulty separating himself from his subject matter. As he relates his journey into the world of the yobs, we get a vivid picture of the people and the events, but no real glimpse into what is behind the football mob violence -- even after Buford spends most of the second half of the book trying to work it out. The only real insight were provided is that the mob becomes greater than the sum of its parts, and that there is a line where a person within the mob ceases to be an individual, and becomes a compnent of a greater organism. However, questions such as why sporting crowds in the US, Canada, or other countries never reach the level of violence or mob mentality as seen in England are never addressed, nor are questions of why this sort of violent behavior seems to be limited to a very large degree to football (soccer) crowds. Of course, that subject is beyond the scope of any one book. Still, the snapshot into the seedy world of NF members, jingoistic supporters, drunks and felons provided by Buford is entertaining, in a voyeuristic sort of way. Besides, unless you are intimately familiar with crowds at English, or any European, football matches, Buford's book is best if taken as a sort of superficial sociological travelogue, offering a glimpse into a strange land, complete with foreign customs, traditions, uniforms and etiquette. Reading 'Thugs' won't provide too much enlightentment on sports violence or the psychology of mobs, but it will entertain. And with the coming Euro2000 tournament, reading this may prove timely, as well.