This was a spooky little airplane read. Bill Buford is a journalism who becomes curious about what goes into football violence and follows teams of football hooligans -- or as he continually refers to them, “supporters -- to some matches and describes the violence he witnesses there. There’s an element of voyeurism, tagging along with him, similar to My War Gone By. Buford is simultaneously attracted to and repelled by the extreme and senseless violence that he witnesses at these matches. The book is more a set of described matches than it is a real cohesive narrative on the larger topics. Buford goes to matches, follows hooligans on package tours and attends a National Front birthday party. The whole time he’s sort of trying to integrate himself with the instigators of these events and is only partially successful.
This book is at its best when describing the things that happens and how they start and progress from simple organized cheering and assembly into the flashpoint violence where suddenly there is destruction and apalling behavior. I found Buford sort of an unreliable narrator, simultaneously trying to be a journalist with some level of detachment and also claiming to be horrified at seeing what was happening with the people who he was hanging out with. There was a sense in which I felt he was saying "well what can you do, this was going to happen anyhow” and then disavowing responsibility for the events because he was there reporting on them, while at the same time commenting on the media spectacle created. Worth reading, btu I’d really like an updated “where are we now, regarding hooligan violence?” book, preferably written by someone else.