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Second Academic Book Review
The world renowned academic of rugby history, both League and Union, Professor Tony Collins has recently published a review of my book in the Sport in History journal website. For those with an interest in the history of rugby union his recent book The Oval World is well worth a read.
Tony's review is very complimentary offering an overview of the book's content and insight into where it sits in the historiography of rugby writing concluding that,
'Histories of sports’ clubs are notoriously difﬁcult to write successfully. Even the most accomplished, such as Chuck Korr’s West Ham United (1987), Richard Stremski’s Kill for Collingwood (1986) and Andrew Moore’s The Mighty Bears (1996), struggle to maintain a balance between administrative minutiae, repetitive seasons and narrative ﬂow. Yet despite the fact that the book is almost 700 pages long, the tight integration between the sporting and social history of Shanghai means that It’s a Rough Game is never less than interesting. In terms of its command of detail, personalities and sporting history the book is comparable to Tom Hickie’s outstanding 1998 history of Sydney University FC, A Sense of Union.
Most importantly, the book provides historians with a new window into the social world of the British imperial expatriate community. Rugby was a not insigniﬁcant part of the recreational life of most British colonialist communities across the imperial world yet remains woefully unexplored beyond the usual Australia/ New Zealand/South Africa axis. Yet as Ng Peng Kong’s 2003 history/memoir Rugby: A Malaysian Chapter described, rugby union played an important role both in maintaining the ‘Britishness’ of the expatriate community and in allowing them to resist or regulate the participation of the indigenous population.
As a history of rugby and of the British community in Shanghai, Simon Drakeford’s book is an important contribution to the historiography of sport and of the British Empire.'
My book has been reviewed in the academic journal The International Journal of the History of Sport. The review commences 'When this book arrived in the collection of the World Rugby Museum, it became the archive’s 1002nd club history. For symbolic purposes, it would perhaps have been appropriate for the book to have become the millennial volume. Few of the previous thousand publications can match it for scale of ambition or achievement, and it will serve as a challenging benchmark for those to follow.' And concluded 'The author is to be congratulated on an impressive and much-needed volume.'
You can see the full review here.