Book Reviews : The Ten Shirt

As a self professed comic book nerd I can appreciate the concept of alternate realities and multiple universes.  That being said I'm generally not a big fan of sports fiction so this soccer book is a bit of a departure from the other efforts reviewed here.  Michael Maddox's "The Ten Shirt" sort of made me feel like I was reading one of the possible alternate reality stories that I encounter after picking up the new weekly stash of reading material on Wednesday afternoons at the local geek store. 

Maddox uses the concept that the United States 1-0 victory over England in 1950 set off a tidal wave of soccer popularity in the United States that fueled the creation of  an American Premiere League.  In the 32 years following that monumental victory the country is able to produce players who are stars at home and abroad while less popular sports like the National Football League struggle to gain attention.  Massive television contracts are in place and the country tunes in to watch Howard Cosell on Monday Night Soccer. 

There are some familiar teams and names that are mentioned in the book which aren't necessarily the focus of the piece but their references managed to help create the sense of the "alternate" possibility that I'm referring to.  The Chicago Sting plays in the Texaco Premier League and their goalkeeper is the US starter.  Rick Davis is on the squad although most of his teammates are fictional characters.  The New York Cosmos are in full effect although Pele and Giorgio Chinaglia never seemed to make their way to the Big Apple.....maybe in another reality.

The Ten Shirt is a fun look at what could have been. Although some of the game action is a bit tedious, Maddox's alternate universe is most entertaining when describing the possibilities that may have taken place and while establishing the relationships between foreign and domestic American players. 

Professional soccer has a long and checkered history in the American sports landscape, surviving the death of the NASL and each of its predecessors to get to the point where we are now.  Maddox wonders what it would have been like if the game was handled properly in the infancy of the television explosion in a march towards the World Cup in 1982.  If you're into lighter fare in between Soccernomics and other soccer related books "The Ten Shirt" might be worth a look.

You can order it here

By the way...if you're into the highbrow world of comic book literature check out Red Eye's "It's Geek To Me" - one of my favorite Chicago Now/Red Eye blogs. 

 

Filed under: Book Reviews

Tags: Books, The Ten Shirt

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  • Just so we do not have a post without comments I will add my favorite soccer book and perhaps can get some suggestions from other posters. The No10 sounds interesting and I may well check it out but I will offer Eduardo Galeano's Soccer in Sun and Shadow as the best book on soccer I have come across.

  • In reply to Celt:

    I'll have to check that one out celt. I really enjoyed Star Spangled Soccer and Soccernomics.

  • In reply to cesba:

    "Years have gone by and I've finally learned to accept myself for who I am: a beggar for good soccer. I go about the world, hand outstretched, and in the stadiums I plead: "A pretty move, for the love of god." Authors confession, Soccer in sun and shadow.

  • In reply to cesba:

    I read Soccernomics and am just finishing Star Spangled Soccer. Both are very good but pretty dry. Is Sun and Shadow a novel? I will offer up How Soccer Explains the World and a similar book called Africa United as interesting looks at how the sport influences societies. I'm thinking the Beau Dure MLS book might be my next soccer book but I should probably try to read something non soccer related now and then.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    Not a novel, but literature, a series of poetic vignettes. One story tells of a Champion Dynamo Kiev team who as POW's play a German army team and thrashes them. They are executed in their Team uniforms by the edge of the pitch. There is a memorial to them at the Kiev stadium. Foer's book was interesting but his politics annoyed me, new republic neo-con and all that and some of his analyzes reflect that.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    Beau Dure's book is good too but it's a bit dry as well since it reads more like a documentative history. I read How Soccer Explains the World this summer and thought it was just ok.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    good break down Guillermo. If anyone is interested in further details of what this book is about, Derek Richey interviewed Michael Maddox. It's a 2 part interview:

    pt 1:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI91erBeETw

    pt 2:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBxRuzefnBI&feature=related

  • In reply to oliotya:

    Speaking of shirts, MLS is set to debut the 2011 jerseys for the league this coming Tuesday, February 1st. Maybe Luna Carpeting can step in last minute to get the lucrative shirt sponsor deal? I just want my flag jersey!

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Alot of people want that flag jersey.....

  • In reply to cesba:

    You did say the higher-ups with the club read this blog, right? I hope they're reading now!

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    I hope so too Coquito.

  • In reply to cesba:

    I forgot, a couple of years ago, there were some High School kids at Toyota Park. They claimed they were part of a film project "How Soccer Explains Chicago". They were working with someone named Warren Rocco at Hales Franciscan HS. I never heard if that thing ever came out.

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