Pele’s had his ups and downs, and, as is inevitable with a superstar in any sphere, has his detractors, too. But reading his new memoir, Why Soccer Matters, I was utterly charmed by him, by his self-deprecation and ability to remember what it was like to be the sport’s first global celebrity. (Maybe the charm is the work of his cowriter, Brian Winter, but, if so, well done.) Come to think of it, he never really explains why soccer matters, but I guess the answer is implicit: anything that can bring such joy to life is its own justification. My review appears in the April 1 issue of Booklist.
These days, it’s difficult to appreciate the fame of Edson Arantes do Nascimento—or Pelé. The soccer prodigy who helped Brazil win three World Cups became a global sports superstar at the dawn of the TV era, and like the Beatles, he was famous when there weren’t really rules for it yet.
(Click the link above to read the whole thing.)