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February 1, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Sports Books
Yes, the major sports are represented in this year’s top 10 but so, too, are poker, Ping-Pong, and fishing. Titles selected were reviewed from September 1, 2013, through August 2014.
All Fishermen Are Liars. By John Gierach. 2014. Simon & Schuster, $24 (9781451618310).
These 22 witty and perceptive essays describe North American trout and salmon fishing in all seasons. Gierach’s lyrical prose evokes beautiful places and equally beautiful fish.
Blood Aces: The Wild Ride of Benny Binion, the Texas Gangster Who Created Vegas Poker. By Doug J. Swanson. 2014. Viking, $27.95 (9790670026036).
A low-level Texas gangster, Benny Binion moved to Las Vegas and had a big idea: the World Series of Poker. Swanson tells Binion’s story in a bravura piece of narrative nonfiction.
Collision Low Crossers: A Year inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football. By Nicholas Dawidoff. 2013. Little, Brown, $27.95 (9780316196796).
Making great use of the “season-in-the-life” narrative framework, Dawidoff tells the story of the New York Jets and their disappointing 2011 season. A treat for both casual fans and football geeks.
The Football Man. By Arthur Hopcraft. 2013. Aurum, $15.95 (9781781311516).
First published in England in 1968, this classic of soccer literature appears in the U.S. for the first time, and its thoughtful take on the men who populate the sport will enthrall American fans as it has Europeans.
The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta. By Bil Capps. 2014. Da Capo, $25.95 (9780306820410).
Capps’ re-creation of the 1975 Masters captures all the on-course action and perceptively reflects on the event’s historical significance—the first appearance in the tournament by an African American.
The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death. By Colson Whitehead. 2014. Doubleday, $24.95 (9780385537056).
Whitehead calls his sad yet funny account of playing the World Series of Poker Eat, Pray, Love for depressed shut-ins, and that pretty much says it, though the eating is mostly about beef jerky and the praying is for aces.
Pete Rose: An American Dilemma. By Kostya Kennedy. 2014. Sports Illustrated, $26.95 (9781618930965).
Pete Rose, banned from baseball for gambling, receives a sensitive biography in which the author suggests it’s time to reconsider the decision to exclude the superstar from the game’s Hall of Fame.
Ping-Pong Diplomacy: The Secret History behind the Game That Changed the World. By Nicholas Griffin. 2013. Scribner, $26 (9781451642773).
When the U.S. table tennis team visited China in 1971, the door was opened to rapprochement between the two countries. Griffin capably resurrects the amazing story of Ping-Pong diplomacy from history’s dustbin.
Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile. By Nate Jackson. 2013. Harper, $26.95 (9780062108029).
This autobiography of an NFL journeyman is distinguished not only by its unsparing account of the hard-knocks life of an ordinary pro-football player but also by Jackson’s crisp, eloquent prose.
Wooden: A Coach’s Life. By Seth Davis. 2014. Times, $35 (9780805092806).
Davis offers a multidimensional portrait of John Wooden, the most successful college basketball coach of all time, capturing the essence of this revered coach and teacher while delivering a capsule history of college hoops.
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