Wall of police, Railway Tavern, Liverpool Station
Photo by salimfadhley used under a Creative Commons license.

Bill Buford, Among the Thugs (Vintage, 1993).
Buford, an American then living in England, witnessed the 1982 takeover of a train by soccer thugs, and began to investigate hooligans, England’s violent soccer fans. He managed to insinuate himself into a group of Manchester United fans, and accompanied them to Turin for a match, where their drunken boorishness before the event was eclipsed, mind-bogglingly, by the mayhem they wreaked later that evening. Once Buford had seen this, he might as well have been one of them; blank denials of hooliganism were replaced by proud recounting of their exploits. Buford’s ability to delve inside this sub-culture is remarkable, if also sometimes disturbing. In the years since this book was published, England has somehow suppressed much of what he saw as the Premiership has become one of the most successful sports leagues in the world, but that would be a subject for another book.

Here’s an excerpt, posted by claennis. Here are reviews from Brian, Christopher Redman (Time), Ian Grant (on a Watford F.C. fan site), Bobylon, George Jochnowitz (National Review), Tony Jefferson, Shriram Krishnamurthi, C. Brooks Kurtz, and Daniel Pipes. Apparently it is Ira Glass’s favorite book. Tom Szentgyorgyi adapted it into a play. And Jeff Phegley made etchings inspired by the book.

Buy it at Amazon.com.