GOOD Books: Recounting Riots
Among the Thugs
By Bill Buford
317 pages. Knopf Doubleday. $15.95
Between 1982 and 1990, Bill Buford, editor of British lit magazine Granta, decided to join up with a group of British football supporters (known as hooligans) to study what made them so violent, nationalistic, xenophobic, racist, and ultimately destructive. The group of Manchester United fans allowed Buford to follow them as they wreaked mayhem in stadiums across Europe. He was in Turin, Italy, when 200 fans marched through the town setting fire to everything in sight, and at the Football Association Cup semifinals, when 95 fans were crushed to death. He witnessed one fan head-butt a cop, suck out his eyeball, and bite it off. The stories are hard-core, and Buford provides an insightful analysis of the phenomenon.