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Spartak Moscow

This article is more than 9 years old.
Spartak Moscow by Robert Edelman
Spartak Moscow by Robert Edelman

There was nothing funny about the secret police in Russia in 1948, and there was nothing funny about Joseph Stalin. But in Spartak Moscow, his new book about Russia’s most illustrious soccer team, Robert Edelman tells some pretty funny stories about the ways in which Nicoli Starostin, long the man who ran Spartak, slipped and slid around the obstacles and dangers inherent in the country’s oppressive machinery by virtue of what he had to offer as a soccer coach.

For years, Spartak was the team supported by fans who craved “a small way of saying no” to persecution, the secret police, mysterious disappearances, and raids in the night. Though the contemporary team no longer serves that purpose, Spartak’s colorful past provides Robert Edelman with plenty of tales of the team, the mere survival of which was testimony to the creativity of the man who ran it.

All of which is not to suggest that Spartak Moscow: A History of the People’s Team in the Workers’ State is a frivolous effort. The book is a thorough, lengthy, and at times somewhat academic exploration of the changing cultural significance of Spartak in Russia over the course of most of the twentieth century.

This program aired on November 19, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Bill Littlefield Twitter Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.

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