But as shown by the epigraphs preceding each chapter, the problem This is a book of immersion journalism. After witnessing an act of random football soccer violence, Buford decided to investigate the phenomenon of football hooliganism in England in the early Among the Thugs. Bill Buford.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Among the Thugs by Bill Buford. Among the Thugs by Bill Buford. 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.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published June 1st by Vintage first published More Details Original Title.
Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Among the Thugs , please sign up. Do you really believe Bill Burford infiltrated these firms?
I have it on very good authority nobody had ever heard of him and this book is all hearsay and based on stories told to him or through other books.
Blake I really don't see him an infiltrator of any sort. He may have been present for a few grisly scenes but he never does more than run to keep up and the …more I really don't see him an infiltrator of any sort. He may have been present for a few grisly scenes but he never does more than run to keep up and then watch with wide eyes, immune from the carnage only because he visually appears to be a fellow supporter.
He's also very sincere with himself and his subjects. Most of the people who spoke to him seem to have done so under some level of anonymity, intentionally keeping their distance, and yet he never represents himself as anything but an interested third party to them - most want him around specifically because they believe he might help them bolster their reputations. It might be different were he acting like he was some kind of official firm member, or spun a yarn about plunging a broken bottle into the face of a Italian police officer.
He isn't self-aggrandizing at all, anywhere - if anything he represents himself as somewhat cowardly, doubtful, and confused by his own motivations before deciding entirely that the scene isn't worth the trouble, and greater insights aren't to be had by spending further time in it.
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Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Among the Thugs. Nov 11, Paul Bryant rated it really liked it Shelves: modern-life. I'd forgotten about this one. It's hilarious, in a grim kind of way, which is how hilarious should be. These were hard nuts like the Inter-City Firm from West Ham who yould beat the daylights out of you and leave you broken, bleeding and barfing in a back alley but always remember to leave a smartly printed business card in one of your pockets sa I'd forgotten about this one.
Recommended for afficionados of British working class culture. Of course it's all now changed, hardly any football violence happens now. It's a problem that's almost been solved. How did they do that, then?
Well, two things happened. The first was Hillsborough, a stadium in Sheffield, in which not quite controlled supporters were allowed by panicking police to pile into a fenced-in spectator area to such an overwhelming extent that a crowd crush built up against the restraining fence, and 96 young people died, right there live on television. That was in It shook the whole nation. The football authorities drew up new rules for every stadium in Britain : no spectator's standing areas they were called terraces any more - football will be all-seating from now on.
This was the first major change in football for donkey's years. After that came wholesale gentrification and prices of season tickets going through the roof. It took a few years but the violence began to melt away. So the all-seater stadiums and the soaring prices, plus the beatific state of mind achievable at beats per minute, solved what had previously been seen as ugly and intractable.
Curious how these things work out sometimes. View all 7 comments. Sep 10, Anders rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Jacob, to whom I have already lent it.
A stunning work of non-fiction, Among the Thugs chronicles Buford's attempts to understand the English phenomenon of soccer hooliganism by immersing himself into its characters, events, and lifestyles. He starts as an outsider, an American living in London for many years without ever attending a soccer game.
Intrigued by the stories of violence and lawlessness the games ignite in the supporters of the teams, he sets out to understand how and why so many young and working-class people are continu A stunning work of non-fiction, Among the Thugs chronicles Buford's attempts to understand the English phenomenon of soccer hooliganism by immersing himself into its characters, events, and lifestyles.
Intrigued by the stories of violence and lawlessness the games ignite in the supporters of the teams, he sets out to understand how and why so many young and working-class people are continuously worked into a fervor attending soccer games. But the deeper goal of this book, and this is where it gets interesting is: what are the societal factors which have produced this demographic?
Buford comes to the conclusion that the problem is that England's former working class, which has a strong sense of cultural pride attached to it, is no longer the working class. Their income now puts them in the middle class, and the awkwardness of this shift has left them disaffected, in need of the jolts of adrenaline that rioting produces. When they riot, they riot against everything and everyone: their dreary suburban lives, as they randomly assault passersby and destroy property; state power, as they provoke, outsmart, and attack police forces which seek to contain them; and even each other, as they reserve their most vicious attacks for the fans of competing soccer teams.
They riot to feel on top of the world, even for only a few minutes, in spite of the danger. Bill Buford is living the good life. As a highly successful non-fiction author, he puts himself in reality-show-like situations which place him in a lot of potential bodily harm. In Among the Thugs, Buford is often in sketchy situations without a safety net-- in this book he participates in a number of soccer riots, attends a white power party in a pub in England, makes friends with the sketchiest thugs he can find.
Basically, he gets your heart pumping from time to time. And not surprisingly, these situations render increasing returns. He gets your attention for when he schools you with the social insights. In the hands of a lesser writer, this book could've been a lot more annoying. The premise-- studying the soccer hooligans by "becoming one," inasmuch as that is possible-- is a little X-treme for my tastes.
But Buford really makes it work, as he seamlessly and realistically combines an interesting, compelling story with his spot-on insights into the English working class.
View 2 comments. Apr 19, Evan rated it it was amazing Shelves: britannia , gangstas , humor , my-faves , men-behaving-badly , crime-for-real , reads , kickass-titles , politics , journalism. What he finds is disturbing, and shatters all his preconceived liberal-leaning notions. Buford plunges heedlessly and naively headlong into the melee and comes out the other side bloodied and bruised and glad to be alive but saddened and in some ways more baffled at the phenomenon of mob mentality and violence than when he started.
As he gapes with fascination and horror into the mouth of human ugliness sometimes literally; English soccer punks have even worse teeth than their fellow Englishmen , he finds his penchant for non-judgment falling away; his journalistic objectivity challenged. The more he becomes drawn into their world and the more he finds himself accepted in it, the more he finds himself becoming a willing participant in the thrilling violence.
Soon he finds himself pushing and cursing at old couples in his way on the street, having his head slammed against a metal pole by a neo-Nazi skinhead and being beaten horrifically by the Italian police during a soccer riot in Sardinia—where the English fans, as is often their wont, make it their goal to own whatever piece of foreign property they occupy.
These fans are not merely waiting for a goal to be scored, they are waiting for the moment of release to wage war. In short, he comes to find that his preconceived notions are bunk, and what he finds is that crowds are as predictable as they are unpredictable; for every answer there are none.
This is, of course, an overly simplistic summary of what Buford discovers, but what he comes to understand and convey to the reader is that all the so-called experts on the nature of crowds—from LeBron onwards—often culled their observations from second-hand sources and spun their theories from the safe distance of their ivory towers, often with an emphasis that absolves society from its complicity.
Buford cites press accounts of sports violence, eerily, from the past—some as far back as , in which nothing in the social order has changed at all. His own descriptions of how a riot escalates—how individual participants, feeding off the collective energy and the collective mob in turn feeding off individual acts of inspired mayhem—are vivid and pungent. His description of how the sound of glass breaking animates a crowd and lends an aural stimulant to escalate violence is incredibly evocative.
The book elegantly examines the process by which the boundaries toward violent escalation are transgressed. Those of you worried that this is a book about sports should disavow yourself of that notion. I wrote many notes while reading the book, but rather than engage in confused analysis I would direct you posthaste to the book itself. Feb 05, Charlie Miller rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction-informative. This is such a great book- the fruits of years of ethnographic research.
Among the Thugs
But his curiosity had been engaged, and he would go on to spend most of the s immersed in English hooligan culture. He traveled with Manchester United supporters to Turin, Italy, where he watched them wreak havoc on the northern Italian town, destroying property, stealing whatever they could find, ambushing Italians who crossed their paths including women and children , and glorifying their misguided sense of nationalism. He ran with English thugs through the streets of Sardinia during the World Cup, enduring a severe beating at the hands of three truncheon-wielding Italian policemen. He witnessed wild parties held by the neo-Fascist, whites-only National Front, weathered street fights between rival clubs in London, and was infected and even thrilled by the experience of a crowd becoming a mob. This last element is essential.
Among The Thugs
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Books of The Times; Studying Soccer Violence by the Civilized British
Buford, who lived in the UK at the time, became interested in crowd hooliganism when, on his way home from Cardiff in he boarded a train that was commandeered by supporters coming from a football match. He spent the next eight years going to football matches, befriending supporters, and witnessing riots, resulting in this book. Buford is in several riots , notably in Turin and at the World Cup in Sardinia. He attends many games in the UK, spending time mostly with a group of Manchester United fans who refer to themselves as the Inter-City Jibbers. He goes to several National Front NF gatherings, as he regards the NF supporters as having a number of traits in common with football hooligans, one of which turns violent. He is beaten up twice by the police, once when caught with the rioting English supporters in Sardinia, where he was beaten for several minutes.
We think of England as being civilized. It is we Americans who are violent. And so apparently did Bill Buford, the American expatriate editor of the literary magazine Granta, who has lived in England since At leasthe thought the English civilized until one Saturday evening in , when he took a train from Wales to London and saw the appalling evidence of what English soccer fans had done that day.