Cover image for The soccer war
The soccer war
Kapuściński, Ryszard.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Wojna futbolowa. English
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, [1990]

Physical Description:
234 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Translation of: Wojna futbolowa.

"Originally published in Great Britain by Granta Books, London, in 1990"--T.p. verso.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DT12.25 .K3613 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



Part diary and part reportage, The Soccer War is a remarkable chronicle of war in the late twentieth century. Between 1958 and 1980, working primarily for the Polish Press Agency, Kapuscinski covered twenty-seven revolutions and coups in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Here, with characteristic cogency and emotional immediacy, he recounts the stories behind his official press dispatches--searing firsthand accounts of the frightening, grotesque, and comically absurd aspects of life during war. The Soccer War is a singular work of journalism. From the Trade Paperback edition.

Author Notes

Ryszard Kapuscinski was born in Pinsk, a city now in Belarus on March 4, 1932. He received a master's degree in history from the University of Warsaw. He worked for the Communist journal Sztandar Mlodych, The Flag of Youth. He wrote an article describing the misery and despair of steel workers at a new steel plant outside of Krakow that the party bosses had extolled as a showpiece of proletarian culture. He was fired and forced into hiding. Later his findings were confirmed by a blue-ribbon task force and he was awarded Poland's Golden Cross of Merit.

In 1962, PAP, the Polish news agency, appointed him its only correspondent in the third world. His articles about third world conflicts eventually appeared in a series of books including The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat, about the lapsed life of Haile Selassie's imperial court; The Soccer War, which dealt with Latin American conflicts; Another Day of Life, about Angola's civil war; Shah of Shahs, about the rise and fall of Iran's last monarch; and Imperium, an account of his travels through Russia and its neighbors after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He also wrote for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and Granta. In 1981, the government of General Wojciech Jaruzelski stripped him of his journalistic credentials after he committed himself to the Solidarity trade union movement. He then began working with underground publishers, contributing poems, and supporting the dissident culture. He died January 23, 2007 at the age of 74.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Although it touches upon historical places and personages--Ghana, El Salvador, Lumumba, Nkrumah, Ben Bella--Kapuscinski's first-person narrative of bloodshed in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East will disappoint readers who want historical context and political analysis. It will also disappoint readers seeking insights into the author's personality and relations with others, for while Kapuscinski's political convictions are unambiguous, his extrapolitical self is invisible. It will also disappoint readers who expect more than "disjointed fragments of a plan" of a book. Kapuscinski's indifference to art, however, will endear him to another group of readers, for his recollections hum with genuine adventure. He narrowly escapes death several times. He lives in romantically squalid Third World expatriate quarters. He's quite matter-of-fact about it all. Readers, then, who harbor fantasies about foreign correspondents but are wary of writers who contrive or, just as bad, exaggerate their heroics will love him. ~--Roland Wulbert

Publisher's Weekly Review

Journalism at its most incisive, these phosphorescent dispatches from the front investigate Third World wars of 1958-1976, probing the forces of political repression and societies stagnating or in the throes of change. Like a contemporary Conrad footloose in Africa, Polish reporter Kapuscinski ( Shah of Shahs ) evokes a continent coping with a colonialist legacy, torn between dictatorships, anarchy and struggles for liberation. He writes of the murder of Congo prime minister Patrice Lumumba, the mid-1960s Nigerian civil war which devastated the Yorubas, and Algeria's struggle to emerge from France's shadow. Drawing on his five-year stint in Latin America, he discusses torture in Guatemala and the 100-hour war between Honduras and El Salvador, triggered by a soccer contest in 1969, which left 6000 dead and many villages destroyed. More recent pieces in this powerful, impressive memoir deal with Turkey's invasion of northern Cyprus, Palestinian guerrillas and the internecine 1976 border dispute between Ethiopia and Somalia. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Being a foreign correspondent is not a job but a way of life; as Kapuscinski reveals in his latest book, that includes almost being burned to death and facing a firing squad. Unlike his popular The Emperor ( LJ 12/15/82) and Shah of Shahs ( LJ 3/15/85), he presents here the personal stories behind his press releases. Though the title refers to the 100-hour war between El Salvador and Honduras over a soccer match that left 6000 dead and 12,000 wounded, Kapuscinski's reminiscences range from 1958 to 1976 when he covered 27 revolts worldwide. He concludes that the immobility of the masses in the Third World is so problematic that even good leaders begin to confuse power with wisdom and thus lose the ability to distinguish politics from morality, or to work for the common good instead of themselves. Despite some interesting ideas and descriptions of terrifying experiences, Kapuscinski's account really adds little to the reader's knowledge. Public libraries only should consider.-- Louise Leonard, Univ. of Florida Libs., Gainesville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.