What sort of man spends his Saturday afternoons with people named Bonehead, Paraffin Pete and Steamin' Sammy?
Bill Buford's acclaimed Among the Thugs is a book about the experience, and the attractions, of crowd violence.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 320 pages
- Publisher: Cornerstone
- Publication Date: 03/09/1992
- Category: Violence in society
- ISBN: 9780099416340
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Review by GingerbreadMan
In the late 80-ies, Buford, an American living in England happens to find himself on a Liverpool supporter train somewhere in Wales. The experience is smelly, loud, violent, scary and disgusting. It’s the heyday of British football violence, and things are happening at virtually every game, both home and abroad. And Buford finds himself asking the question what it is that makes young men run amok every Saturday all over the country – and why the fact that they do is more or less looked upon as some sort of natural disaster. The interest quickly becomes an obsession, and Buford spends years watching games in packed cages, and running with the firms and hooligans. And after being in the middle of the horrorshow when Man U:s Red Devils trash Turin, sending over sixty people to hospital, he is even accepted as someone who can be let in on the truth: It is about the violence, not the game, of course it is. At times Buford tries to quit, but even though he’s never a part of the violence himself, he finds it very difficult to leave. He’s become addicted to the sweat, the piss, the blood.You might need some utterly basic knowledge about football to fully appreciate this book, know just a little bit about European teams and their connotations. But mostly this is a fascinating read about how groups work. How a group makes collective decisions and how it channels it’s energy. On top of this, Buford is a very good stylist, with a nail-biting ability to describe frozen moments like the very second a crowd becomes a violent mob. One should be warned that the violence described is extremely graphic and detailed. This is at times a very disturbing book. At times, I feel an intense relief that the book is dated. We have come a long way in these twenty years. Still, in Sweden , the firms are on the rise again, and I know many who hesitate to bring their kids to the high risk games and derbys.Among the thugs is part freakshow, part horror story and part journalism, and should be of interest to anyone in groups and psychology. Football interest is optional.