Honor roll: Sports books

Each of these Sports books has received at least one award nomination. They are ranked by honors received.

Book:Brittle Innings

Brittle Innings

Michael Bishop

For seventeen-year-old Danny Boles, a 5’5” shortstop out of Tenkiller, Oklahoma, the summer of 1943 would be a season to remember. The country’s at war, and professional baseball needs able-bodied men. Danny’s headed for Highbridge, Georgia—home of the Goober Pride peanut butter factory and the Highbridge Hellbenders, a Class C farm club in the Chattahoochee Valley League. He’s a scrappy player with one minor quirk: a violent encounter on the train to Georgia has rendered him mute, his vocal cords tied up in knots.

Danny’s idiosyncrasy, however, is nothing compared to that of his new Hellbender roommate, an erudite seven-foot giant by the name of Jumbo Hank Clerval. With his yellow eyes, strangely scarred face, and sausage-sized fingers, Hank seems to have been put together in a meat-packing plant. But he plays a mean first base and can hit the ball a mile. With the Hellbenders in a pennant…[more]

Book:Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

Jon Krakauer

When Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10,1996, he hadn’t slept in fifty-seven hours and was reeling from the brain-altering effects of oxygen depletion. As he turned to begin the perilous descent from 29,028 feet (roughly the cruising altitude of an Airbus jetliner), twenty other climbers were still pushing doggedly to the top, unaware that the sky had begun to roil with clouds…

Into Thin Air is the definitive account of the deadliest season in the history of Everest by the acclaimed Outside journalist and author of the bestselling Into the Wild. Taking the reader step by step from Katmandu to the mountain’s deadly pinnacle, Krakauer has his readers shaking on the edge of their seat. Beyond the terrors of this account, however, he also peers deeply into the myth of the world’s tallest mountain. What is is about Everest that has compelled so many poeple—including himself—to…[more]

Book:Come to Grief

Come to Grief

Dick Francis

Although more than a decade has passed since the publication of Whip Hand, little time has elapsed in Sid Halley’s life. Still in his mid-thirties, he remains troubled, courageous, unwilling to admit defeat to disabling injury or to corruption. Now, though, Sid faces nineties’ dilemmas, dangers, and deeply demanding decisions.

Having exposed an adored racing figure as a monster, Sid must testify at the man’s trial. But the morning of his appearance, a tragic suicide shatters the proceedings and jars Halley’s conscience. Plagued by regret and the suspicion that there’s more to the death than has yet come to light, he is catapulted into days of hard, rational detection, heart-searching torments, and the gravest of perils. Business as usual for Sid…

Book:The Culture of Bruising

The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, and Modern American Culture

Gerald Early

The Culture of Bruising is a collection of essays on race and culture. The sport of boxing is at the heart of the book because the author regards it as a metaphor for the way a culture can bruise the individual. Topics covered discussed in the pieces include multiculturalism, baseball, Malcolm X, and Black History Month.

Book:Black Planet

Black Planet: Facing Race During an NBA Season

David Shields

The National Basketball Association is a place where, without ever acknowledging it, white fans and black players enact and quietly explode virtually every racial issue and tension in the culture at large. In Black Planet, David Shields explores how, in a predominantly black sport, white fans—including especially himself—think about and talk about black heroes, black scapegoats, black bodies.

During the 1994-95 NBA season, Shields went to the Seattle SuperSonics’ home games; watched their away games on TV; listened to interviews and call-in shows; talked, or tried to talk, to players, coaches, and agents; attended charity events; corresponded with members of the Sonics newsgroup on the Web. He kept a journal and over the next few years transformed that journal into this book, which is focused sharply on white spectators’ relationship to black athletes, in particular Shields’ own identification…[more]

Book:King of the World

King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero

David Remnick

On the night in 1964 that Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) stepped into the ring with Sonny Liston, he was widely regarded as an irritating freak who danced and talked way too much. Six rounds later Ali was not only the new world heavyweight boxing champion: He was “a new kind of black man” who would shortly transform America’s racial politics, its popular culture, and its notions of heroism.

No one has captured Ali—and the era that he exhilarated and sometimes infuriated—with greater vibrancy, drama, and astuteness than David Remnick, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lenin’s Tomb (and editor of The New Yorker). In charting Ali’s rise from the gyms of Louisville, Kentucky, to his epochal fights against Liston and Floyd Patterson, Remnick creates a canvas of unparalleled richness. He gives us empathetic portraits of wisecracking sportswriters and bone-breaking mobsters;…[more]

Book:Lou Gehrig

Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man

David A. Adler, Terry Widener

This biography traces Gehrig’s life, from childhood through his illustrious career with the Yankees to his struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and his tragic death at age thirty-seven. Expressive illustrations capture the strength, modesty, and dignity for which this remarkable man will always be remembered.

Book:The Queen of Whale Cay

The Queen of Whale Cay

Kate Summerscale

When Marion “Joe” Carstairs died in 1993 at the age of ninety-three, she was largely forgotten. During the 1920s she held the world record as the fastest female speedboat racer. But as journalist Kate Summerscale discovered, when researching an obituary for the Daily Telegraph, Carstairs was also a notorious cross-dresser who favored women and smoked cheroots. Supremely self-confident, she inherited a Standard Oil fortune and knew how to spend her money—on fast boats and cars, female lovers, and a Caribbean island, Whale Cay, where she reigned over a colony of Bahamians. There, far from her bohemian past in London and Paris, she hosted a succession of girlfriends and celebrities, including Marlene Dietrich and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Through it all, she remained devoted to Lord Tod Wadley, a little doll who became her bosom companion.

Book:In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle

In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle: A True Story of Hoop Dreams and One Very Special Team

Madeleine Blais

Begun as an article in the New York Times Magazine, In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle offers a close-up of the girls on a high school basketball team whose passion for the sport is rivaled only by their loyalty to one another. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Madeleine Blais’s book takes the reader through a season in the history of the Lady Hurricanes of Amherst, Massachusetts, from tryouts and practices during the regular season up through the final championship game. The result is a moving narrative that captures the complexities of girls’ experiences in high school, sports, and society. It is a compelling and touching literary exploration of one group of girls’ fight for success and respect… and a dramatization of the success of the women’s movement and a testimony to all the changes yet to come.

Book:Looking for a Ship

Looking for a Ship

John McPhee

This is an extraordinary tale of life aboard what may be one of the last American merchant ships. As the story begins, Andy Chase, who holds a license as a second mate is looking for a ship. In less than ten years, the United States Merchant Marine has shrunk from more than two thousand ships to fewer than four hundred, and Chase faces the scarcity of jobs from which all American merchant mariners have been suffering.

With John McPhee along, Chase finds a job as a second mate aboard the S.S. Stella Lykes, captained by the extraordinary Paul McHenry Washburn. The journey takes them on a forty-two day run down the Pacific coast of South America, with stops to unload and pick up freight at such ports as Cartagena, Valparaiso, Balboa, Lima, and Guayaquil—an area notorious for pirates. As the crew make their ocean voyage, they tell sea stories of other runs and other ships, tales of disaster, stupidity, greed, generosity, and courage. Through the journey itself and the tales told emerge the history and character of a fascinating calling.

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