More super, creative writing from Ryszard Kapuściński in The Soccer War, which was first published in 1990. I’ve written about his books before (Another Day of Life, and The Emperor), and always enjoy his works.
Much of The Soccer War concerns his reporting from Africa, especially West Africa, in the 1960s, and has nothing to do with football. He is always getting into, and somehow out of, scrapes: “In the course of one month I had driven through five countries. In four of them, there were states of emergency. In one, the president had just been overthrown; in a second, the president had saved himself only by chance; in a third, the head of the government was afraid to leave his house, which was surrounded by troops.”
The actual soccer war in question was between Salvador and Honduras, in 1969. There was much more to the conflict than disagreement over football, but a qualifying match in the World Cup helped to inflame passions. Kapuściński goes to the frontline to report back for the Polish Press Agency and gets into yet another tricky situation. He writes about the feelings and emotions of the soldiers who are doing the fighting at the behest of politicians. Many of the troops don’t even know why there is a conflict.
Later on, he gets bitten by a scorpion whilst in the Ogaden, in 1976, covering a conflict between Ethiopia and Somalia. One wonders how he survived all the scrapes.