Spartak Moscow: A History of the People’s Team in the Workers’ State by Robert Edelman is the winner of the NASSH Book Award given by the North American Society for Sport History for the best sports history book published in 2009. The award carries with it an honorarium of $500. This is only the second time that any individual has won the award twice. From the committee’s report:
This is an ambitious and very well-documented story, merging culture, identity and politics, ideology and the state with the history of Spartak, Moscow’s leading soccer team, reminding us that politics often has a sporting edge, and providing a sophisticated, subtle and nuanced analysis of the club’s relationship with the state as well as the fans’ relationship with the club. Edelman shows how Moscow soccer could simultaneously be a vehicle for conformity and also opposition, most obviously by showing how support for Spartak, the people’s team, contrasted with that for Moscow Dinamo, the secret police team. The book showed that Edelman was an author well able to examine developments from multiple perspectives, drawing on social, cultural, and political history, as well as aspects derived from the more recent interests in body culture. The committee saw the book as making a highly important contribution to the field of sports history, and telling a much bigger story than merely a narrative of sporting development. It was set in a far wider cultural context, allowing us to understand the present as well as the past a little better.