The Best American Sports Writing of the Century

The Best American Sports Writing of the Century Review

The Barnes & Noble Review: "The front page chronicles man's defeats. The sports page chronicles man's triumphs." So the adage goes, never more true than when surveying 100 years of American history through its coverage of sports. From Bobby Knight to Bobby Fischer, from Secretariat to Sugar Ray, from Butkus to the Babe, the 20th century abounds with classic figures in sports history. Their compelling stories fuel our collective memory. In the pieces assembled here, The Best American Sports Writing of the Century captures these indelible moments in words worth a thousand pictures. Working with series editor Glenn Stout (Best American Sports Writing 1999 etc.), Pulitzer-Prize winner David Halberstam (The Summer of '49, Playing For Keeps:Michael Jordan & the World He Made) selects the century's most engaging sports journalism. While the task was surely a challenge, the result is a near-seamless retrospective of contemporary athleticism. The pieces are contemporaneous with the events recounted, infusing the entire collection with an intimate immediacy. You are there — with Joe DiMaggio, Junior Johnson, Muhammad Ali, Branch Rickey — again & again. The writing is uniformly excellent, mixing some familiar choices with otherwise overlooked gems. However, one criticism must be noted: This is for fans of men's endeavors, for women hardly appear in the 800-plus pages. No exquisite essays on Wilma Rudolph's struggles to achieve Olympic gold. No mention of Chris Evert's importance to tennis. No hymns of praise for Peggy Fleming's inspiring skating. Nohyperboleabout Shirley Muldowney's drag racing prowess. No Mary Decker, no Nancy Lopez, no Picabo Street. Perhaps a companion volume is in the offing. For capturing 10 decades of achievement by the men, tho, no tribute could be finer. Whether rejoicing on the quietude of fishing (Thomas McGuane, The Longest Silence, 1969) or the cacophony of Bobby Thomson's pennant-winning heroics (Red Smith, Miracle of Coogan's Bluff, 1951), the writing is evocative and timeless. Some athletic greats are viewed as their careers are poised to explode (Tiger Woods in 1997's The Chosen One, by Gary Smith). Others are glimpsed in the rearview mirror: DiMaggio in 1966's The Silent Season of a Hero, by Gay Talese; Ty Cobb in 1961's The Fight to Live, by Al Stump; & Billy Conigliaro in 1989's "A Brother's Keeper," by Mike Lupica.

In a marvelous choice, Halberstam concludes the book with six essays on Ali. The selections represent the full spectrum of his athletic and public career, from cocksure Cassius Marcellus Clay (Murray Kempton, "The Champ and the Chump," 1964) to reflective disciple of Islam (Dick Schaap, "Muhammad Ali Then and Now," 1971) to resurrected warrior in Manila (Mark Kram, "Lawdy, Lawdy, He's Great," 1975) & beyond.

Title:The Best American Sports Writing of the Century
Edition Language:English

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    The Best American Sports Writing of the Century Reviews

  • Nicholas Garcia

    Another great entry in an immortal series, all of which books I recommend. Some of my favorites were "Triumph on Sacred Ground" about the Zambian National Team tragedy; "The Magic Act" about Magic Joh...

  • Judy

    I admit that I'm a sucker for great sports writing and this collection has some of the best. The strength of the writing is matched by the brilliance and talent of the figures in the variety of sports...

  • Trey Meadows

    A reminder of what journalism and sports used to mean to each other and of a time when they both were much more worthy of our attention. The last section of selections on Ali are especially poignant a...

  • Len Knighton

    Included in this book is the best sports magazine article I've ever read: Mark Kram's masterpiece on the THRILLA IN MANILA, Ali-Frazier III. That is worth the price of the book. ...

  • Eric

    Time casts a foggy hue on all people and events. Though primary sources may lack the perspective that only the passage of time can imbue, too much perspective can throw a shadow across the true meanin...

  • Paul Schulzetenberg

    I know what you’re thinking: “Best American what? Good sports writing is an oxymoron.” Mostly, that’s true. Sports journalism is, by and large, awful, as anybody who has tried to watch Sportsc...

  • Jason Smith

    A great collection of short works by some of the best writers of the century, whether cut from the journalist's or novelist's cloth. Many of these pieces were jumping off points for long-form explorat...

  • Tom Gase

    This book is basically what it says it is - a collection of the best sports writing of the last century. A HUUUUUUUGE book that took me a long time to read but well worth it. Great stories by epic aut...

  • Paul

    Some decent writing here. But as I read, I was continually confronted by some questions:Is there no mood that is possible in sports writing other than wistful nostalgia for days gone by?Don't these wr...

  • Charles

    Worth it alone for the story on DiMaggio, and Hunter S. Thompson's "The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent And Deparaved."Edit: Still reading this bohemoth. Would also add the piece on Ty Cobb in the "worth i...