How Soccer Conquered Spain
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    • Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas raises the Euro Cup 2012 trophy after Spain defeated Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, July 1, 2012.

"As graceful and entertaining as Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, La Roja's modern-day geniuses." That's how Steven Goff described Jimmy Burns' recent work on Spanish soccer, La Roja: How Soccer Conquered Spain and How Spanish Soccer Conquered the World (Nation Books, 2012) in his review for the Washington Post.

In the book, journalist and award-winning author Jimmy Burns chronicles the trajectory of Spain's national soccer team, commonly known as "La Roja" or "The Red." Goff notes in his review that though the book does cover, in depth, the history of the beautiful game in Spain, from its beginnings as an import from British miners, to its 1950s-era reputation as a "bumbling underachiever" and the Spanish team's record-breaking World Cup victory in 2010, it is "also about culture, politics and religion." Indeed, Burns' scope encompasses Franco and the Civil War, regional conflicts, soccer fandom, and the Socialist Party.

In his recent Guardian profile of La Roja's coach, Vicente del Bosque, Burns recounts his personal history with del Bosque, describes the team's recent successes, and explores soccer's role as a potentially unifying force for Spain, that could help overcome regional tensions. When asked what La Roja now signifies to him, del Bosque tells Burns, "I think it has a good significance, a good message — it's a simple one. It means unity. We are a united team."

Tags: history, jimmy burns, la roja, spanish soccer

    • Anna Robinson
    • Anna S.G. Robinson is originally from Auckland, New Zealand. She studied History, English Literature, and French at the University of Auckland and McGill University, Montréal. She was an intern at The Nation Institute during the fall of 2012. Follow her on Twitter @AnnaSGRob...

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