Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the World’s Greatest Sports Rivalry

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Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the World’s Greatest Sports Rivalry

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Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the World’s Greatest Sports Rivalry

Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the World's Greatest Sports Rivalry

Fear and Loathing in La Liga is the definitive history of the greatest rivalry in world sport: FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid. It’s Messi vs. Ronaldo, Guardiola vs. Mourinho, the nation against the state, freedom fighters vs. Franco’s fascists, plus majestic goals and mesmerizing skills. It’s the best two teams on the planet going head-to-head. It’s more than a game. It’s a war. It’s El Clásico.

Only, it’s not quite that simple. Spanish soccer expert and historian Sid Lowe co

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3 Comments

Usni

May 12, 2016 at 6:00 am
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
A history (and soccer) lovers dream, April 17, 2014
By 
Usni

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This book comprehensively details the history of the rivalry, from 1902 to present day. Of course you cannot understand the rivalry without understanding the Spanish Civil War and this is where Sid Lowe shines with a ton of detail on those dark days. Personally I thought the best part was the chapter on the Alfredo Di Stefano transfer which I found very similar to the story of how the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees changing both clubs forever. Barca obviously didn’t sell Di Stefano but they, like the Red Sox, whiffed on a chance to acquire/keep one of the greatest players of their respective sports.

The only flaw of the book I felt was that it felt a little thin when it came to the rivalry present day. It has a detailed overview of Mourinho vs Guardiola but I felt Lowe didn’t devote enough pages to Messi vs Ronaldo, ironic considering they are the ones on the cover. Lowe wrote almost nothing on Ronaldo’s transfer from Manchester United and little on how Messi ended up at La Masia.

But really that’s a small nitpick on a otherwise great book. If you want to buy just one book on El Clasico this is the one to buy.

Update (10/30/2014): I am changing my rating to 5 from the original 4 stars. When I wrote the review I had read about 50% of it, basically a through scan but now that I’ve read it more throughly I felt I shortchanged Sid Lowe. What he’s written here is a deep rich history of the Real Madrid and Barcelona rivalry that is as much a history book as it is a soccer book. As someone who loves history and soccer this is nirvana. This is no doubt the greatest english language book on the Madrid-Barcelona rivalry and I wonder even if there is a Spanish language book that is better. I stand by my original criticism because I think we all like to read about contemporary stuff because that’s the part we’ve personally experienced but when I read about the Spanish Civil War and how Barcelona and Real Madrid fared and the influence of Francoism on the rivalry (and Spanish society overall) I can’t but help admire the totality of Sid Lowe’s work. He must’ve done a enormous amount of research.

I’m gushing a bit but I cannot praise this book enough. 5 stars for a book that should be winning literary awards.

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Craig McLay

May 12, 2016 at 6:56 am
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Must-Read For Barca Fans And Madridistas Alike, January 3, 2014
By 
Craig McLay (Kitchener, Ontario Canada) –

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Sid Lowe’s smoothly written and highly entertaining history of these two great football clubs dispels many myths and cuts right to the core of a rivalry that is easily one of the biggest in the history of the game.

Whether you count yourself as a Barca fan or a Madridista, a devotee of Messi or Ronaldo, this book will give you a better picture of the historical forces that have shaped two clubs from their formation through the Spanish civil war, their competing philosophies, and some of the titanic personalities who have come and gone.

Unless you speak Catalan or Spanish, Sid Lowe’s coverage of La Liga for The Guardian is about the best (and certainly the least hysterically biased) football reporting there is, and he certainly doesn’t disappoint with this full-length report on the past and current state of the union of the top two clubs in that preeminent footballing nation.

No matter what your club preference is (mine happens to be Barca), you owe it to yourself to read this book. There’s plenty of great material in here – and that’s probably about the only thing both sides would agree on.

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GS4815

May 12, 2016 at 7:32 am
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Fascinating Read, Great Author, June 19, 2014
By 
GS4815 (NYC) –

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This review is from: Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the World’s Greatest Sports Rivalry (Paperback)
Over the past year, football journalism/literature has become one of my favorite genres for casual reading. Sid Lowe, an acclaimed journalist who writes for ESPN and the Guardian (among others), weaves social and sporting history with anecdotes about two of world football’s greatest clubs.

Those who are intimately familiar with Spanish/Catalan history as they apply to both Real Madrid and Barcelona may find some of the material redundant. Thankfully, I was not in that camp and thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Lowe’s insights into Spanish culture, society, and language through the lens of its most celebrated football clubs. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of these two clubs or Spanish history as expressed through football.

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