I recently read Joe McGinniss’s excellent book about a minor league soccer team that did the impossible: qualify for the second highest professional league in the world, despite coming from a mountain town with only 5,000 people. The book is so heartfelt and devoted, you even see the author becoming unreliably impassioned through the course of the seasons as the book wears on, particularly at the bittersweet ending.
While reading it, I appreciated the race to the finish and cultural insights into Italian behavior and ways of thinking, which are dramatically different than Americans. I was emotionally torn at some parts but could not put it down. Basically the book is a culture clash that will give you pause, make you think, and cause you to laugh.
Here are some of my favorite passages:
- They recognized history when it was made, even at their own expense, and they had waited for ninety long minutes, swelling their own disappointment, simply in order to pay tribute to the men from the mountains of the Abruzzo, who would never be considered little again.
- The golden color of the abruzzese fall had begun advancing down the mountain’s flank like an army, each day driving back a few meters farther the doomed green forces that had ruled all summer long.
- I’d long been of the view that only people in positions of power from which they cannot be easily unseated — they, and the mentally deranged — will talk for half an hour or more when it is obvious to everyone except themselves that no one is listening.
- It is remarkable, really, how much specific information can be conveyed through even the most impermeable of language barriers if the conveyor truly wishes to do so and has the patience and resourcefulness to keep trying, no matter how obtuse the listener might seem.