September 18, 2000 12:00 PM

The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team and How It Changed the World
by Jere Longman

Like the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey triumph over the Soviet Union, the American victory over China in the 1999 women’s soccer World Cup has turned into a license to commit hyperbole, as demonstrated by the subtitle of this impressively detailed but overly fawning account by New York Times sportswriter Longman. The U.S. team’s win is re-created almost minute by minute, and the biographies of the team’s coaches and players are thoroughly explored. If you can’t get enough of the heroics of Brandi Chastain, Mia Hamm, Briana Scurry and the whole valiant squad, this book’s for you. But the author also digresses into such side issues as the practice of female circumcision in Africa, the inner workings of the U.S. Soccer Federation, what he calls society’s “residual panic about lesbianism” and how, in Longman’s politically correct view, discussion of the players’ attractiveness devalues and trivializes their athletic skills. (HarperCollins, $24) Bottom Line: Extended fan letter

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