Among the Thugs

By Bill Buford,

Book cover of Among the Thugs

Book description

The author of this book has spent most of his spare time "among the thugs", the hooligans whose violence scars the face of English football. He has written a work of investigative journalism and a meditation on the violence that lies just beneath the surface of English life.

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Among the Thugs as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Whatever rhetoric leaders deploy, they depend on others—usually teenagers and young men—who will fight for the joy of it. “Violence is one of the most intensely lived experiences,” writes Buford. “For those capable of giving themselves over to it, is one of the most intense pleasures.” He reaches this conclusion after years of observing the largely apolitical English football hooligans who follow their favorite teams around Europe, plundering and brawling as they go. The crime is brutal and pointless, but, Buford explains, the thugs thrill to the mayhem, the naughtiness, and the sound of broken glass. 

From Zachary's list on mob violence.

Although this book is about soccer hooligans rather than political protestors, it shows why some people -- mostly young men -- actually seek out violent encounters. Perhaps other people understand the pleasures of fisticuffs better than I do, but for me this was eye-opening. It may also help us understand the ringleaders of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.

From James' list on what drives protestors.

This account of Buford’s time spent among violent soccer fans illustrates that dangerous travel can encompass familiar, otherwise mundane locales. On short jaunts between European stadiums, Buford, an American ex-pat, seeks to understand how sporting events sometimes turn deadly, treading a surprisingly thin line between friendly competition and mass violence. He eventually gets caught up in the mayhem, is beaten numerous times, turns violent himself, and comes away with a new understanding of the potential for sudden societal collapse.

In this world, the sound of shattering glass in a local store window is a source of terrible inspiration. Though the…

From Alan's list on traveling to dangerous places.

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