Into The Arena
The World of the Spanish Bullfight
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'Whether or not the artistic quality of the bullfight outweighs the moral question of the animals' suffering is something that each person must decide for themselves - as they must decide whether the taste of a steak justifies the death of a cow. But if we ignore the possibility that one does outweigh the other, we fall foul of the charge of self-deceit and incoherence in our dealings with animals.' Alexander Fiske-Harrison
In a remarkable and controversial book Fiske-Harrison follows the tracks of a whole bullfighting year in Spain. He trains and takes part in the sport himself. He gives us memorable portraits of bull-fighters and bulls, of owners, trainers and fans - of a whole country. Fiske-Harrison offers a fully rounded and involving portrait of an art as performed for centuries and of the arguments that dog it today.
Reviews in the British Press
The Mail on Sunday gave the book four stars, saying, "his descriptions of the fights are compelling and lyrical, and his explanation of different uses of the matador’s capes is illuminating. One begins to understand what has captivated Spaniards for centuries." While the Sunday Times states that "it provides an engrossing introduction to Spain’s 'great feast of art and danger'", the Sunday Telegraph said, it was "a compelling read, unusual for its genre, exalting the bullfight as pure theatre,", and the Financial Times called it, "an engrossing introduction to bullfighting," while The Herald (Glasgow) called it "an informative and breathtaking volume of gonzo journalism." The Literary Review said, "His eye-witness reports of bullfights are particularly good. He transposes the spectacle into words with great success, conveying the drama of the corrida while explaining individual moves and techniques with eloquence and precision." The Sunday Telegraph selected it as a "best summer holiday read" and the Sunday Times as part of the summer's "essential travel book list.". The Daily Mail also points out that although Fiske-Harrison "develops a taste for the whole gruesome spectacle, what makes the book work is that he never loses his disgust for it," and the Financial Times seconds this: "It’s to Fiske-Harrison’s credit that he never quite gets over his moral qualms about bullfighting."