Book Review: A Lack of Thrill in Brazil – A Diary of England’s World Cup Disaster by Dean Blunden

Not just a lack of thrill in Brazil…

…It took me several attempts to read this kindle offering. If you want a book which is packed full of stats – that in all honestly you don’t need to know and have no real relevance – then this is the book for you.

I don’t care how many caps John Ruddy has or anyone else on Roy Hodgson’s standby list for that matter. What I do care about is being entertained or informed when I read.

Reading is something I do for enjoyment and reliving the catastrophe that was England’s World Cup is not something I want to do for fun. I know most England fans thrive on purgatory, you only have to watch one of the games to see that, but to want to read about it is not my idea of a good time.

Perhaps in 20 or 30 years time when we look back with ‘rose-tinted’ glasses at World Cups’ gone by, and ask, “I wonder who played right-back in the friendly against Peru?” will this book find its purpose.

This is not a diary in the sense of Bridget Jones’s Diary or The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, which both have various plot strands. The only story in the book is the much maligned and analysed performance of the England football team and we all know how it ended. The newspapers and television companies spent millions on coverage and commentary of the tournament so do we really need a book to remind us what happened?

Blunden doesn’t provide any insight into the England story nor does it reveal anything new. It’s merely a collection of match reports and articles similar to those that we read at the time and which have now have been consigned to the bin.

If he had been in Brazil or at least spoken to someone who was there, then he may have found something new to talk about. There are so many stories that come out of every World Cup that to focus on what we already know seems a little futile.

I want to find out something I didn’t read in the newspapers or see over and over again on the TV. Stories like people surviving on crisps at the 2002 World Cup because they had spent all their money in the first week would have helped bring this book to life.

This book must have been a labour of love for the author, because I can see no other reason for him to write it. The headlines that littered the text were straight from newspapers and there is no colour in any of his descriptions. This is due to the fact that Blunden was not in Brazil leaving his descriptions of the game to be factual and without emotion.

For example, on reading the report of the Italy game, there is no sense of the oppressive heat of Manus, the tension of being a goal down or the passionate release when Sturridge equalised. There is none of that emotional rollercoaster that might have made this book interesting, only a factual description of the game. Blunden doesn’t even make a reference to the legions of fans who stayed up late back in England either huddled round a TV or packed in a bar and who at the final whistle speedily retired home to bed hoping that when they awoke it would have all been a nasty dream.

We all have our own thoughts on why England faired so badly – we don’t need to read the match reports of a fellow fan – or perhaps I have completely missed the point of this book and I’m in a minority of one?

For all this though, I hope that Dean produces another book because there is evidence of skill in his writing and has clearly put a huge amount of effort into this book. However, in future he needs to inject some colour and feeling into his writing and find the story.

Stories are about people – so tell me about the people because I know all about the team; I watched it painfully unfold with my own eyes.


Ed Williams


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Posted February 9, 2015 by Editor in category "Reviews

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