Shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2011
Sport books of the year
Sunday Times: Nick Pitt, December 4th, 2011
Football, bulls, boxing and life and death — Nick Pitt cheers on 2011’s most inspiring sports books
Into the Arena: The World of the Spanish Bullfight by Alexander Fiske-Harrison
Profile £15.99/ebook £15.99
Fiske-Harrison was drawn to bullfighting as a ritual of life and death, blood and dust. He may not quite match Hemingway’s prose or machismo, and as a man of modern sensibilities he feels bound to wrestle with the morality of it all. But, like Hemingway, he drank deep of the culture and had the guts to take on a bull himself.
Books for Christmas
Sunday Telegraph: Oliver Brown, November 27th, 2011
INTO THE ARENA: The World of the Spanish Bullfight BY ALEXANDER FISKE-HARRISON Profile Books, £15.99
Bullfighting was banned in Catalonia last year and yet has continued to capture both the quintessence of Spain and the extremes of sporting heroism. It exerted a fascination early upon Alexander Fiske-Harrison, who watched his first bullfight as a 23-year-old philosophy postgraduate student in Seville and embarked a decade later on a quest to understand the spectacle in all its cultural complexity. This is no passive work, however: he undertakes months of training with one of the top matadors, Eduardo Dávila Miura, to steel himself for the final act of his own corrida de toros. Uneasy ethical dilemmas abound, not least how much suffering the animals are put through. But this remains a compelling read, unusual for its genre, exalting the bullfight as pure theatre.
Essential sports books to give you inspiration over the Christmas period
METRO: Ben East, 30th November, 2011
Christmas is just around the corner, so browse our bookshelf of gift ideas and take inspiration from stories of achievement, recovery and redemption.
Many would argue that bullfighting isn’t a sport either – including, famously, Ernest Hemingway – but that didn’t prevent Into The Arena: The World Of The Spanish Bullfight by Alexander Fiske-Harrison (Profile, £15.99) making it on to the William Hill shortlist this year.
A few years ago, there was a spate of books by writers detailing their own attempts to break into professional sport – and Fiske-Harrison’s book is a fantastic addition.
He started out wanting to study bullfighting from a neutral perspective and ended up admiring the strange beauty of the torero, before venturing into the ring himself.
Whatever you think about the ethics of the bullfight, it’s a fascinating insight into a world we know little about but are quick to judge.
The best summer holiday reads
Sunday Telegraph: Michael Kerr, July 8th 2011
Want to immerse yourself in local culture and history while soaking up the good life? Follow our guide on what to read in the world’s top holiday destinations.
In Into the Arena: the World of the Spanish Bullfight by Alexander Fiske-Harrison (Profile), an Englishman is introduced – literally as well as metaphorically – to el toro.
Summer reads for travellers:
Sunday Times: Brian Schofield & Anthony Sattin, June 19th 2011
What books should travel addicts be packing this year?
Colin Thubron, Carl Hiaasen, Alexander Fiske-Harrison, Ian Thomson, Jasper Winn, Olivia Laing and Patrick Leigh Fermor make up the essential travel book list.