Feet of the Chameleon, by Ian Hawkey

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The Independent Culture

When you're hot, you're hot; Duncan Hamilton, winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award in 2007, scooped the prize again on Thursday for his biography of Harold Larwood, the England fast bowler forever associated with the 1932-33 Bodyline series in Australia. As we reviewed it a few months ago, let's turn our attention to one of the runners-up in a very tight contest.

Ian Hawkey chose a big continent, and a big subject, in tackling the story of African football, but rose triumphantly to the task. Having lived in four African countries, he visited 24 more and has distilled a wealth of material into a compelling narrative, while also addressing important questions.

Why do teams favour foreign coaches? How many rely on witch-doctors? How many African players ply their trade in Europe? Hawkey answers all these cogently, and is as knowledgeable on the club scene as the international one – if you want to know which league enjoys a derby between the Venomous Vipers and the Mysterious Dwarves, this will tell you.

Published in hardback by Portico, £16.99