I was reading a book of poems at the same time. So, #1 thing I liked about the book: Halberstam writes beautifully. Some of his best writings place sports in the larger context of culture and cultural change. This book was my introduction to Halberstam, and it was fine, but I suspect that if you like sports, and you like Halberstam's writing, the most satisfying experience would be to read his full-length books, of which there are plenty.
Okay, for a quick review this book is technically not a book, a collection of articles and stories David Hablerstram wrote throughout his career that spanned half a century. What is excellent about this collection is the way it brilliantly gives the reader the story of Davids life-through his own writing.
I love David Halberstam but while I love his focused works in book form, I tend to find his shorter works, which happen to be a bit more personal, a bit dissapointing. I like the writING of David Halberstam but, as I discovered by reading Everything They Had, I might not necessarily like the writER. I've only heard good things about him, don't get me wrong, but Halberstam, as many other reviews on this site have pointed out, has a sort of snobby nature to him which comes with the territory he was raised in. For example, the baseball section, which is twice as long as the basketball section, contains many articles about the same exact thing. Stout feels that by putting ALL or MOST of Halberstam's work together it would make a good anthology. THE LONGER VIEW--This is probably a good example of why Halberstam is a great writer of history. BASKETBALL--DO NOT SKIP a single article. He seems to be more in awe of the sport then writing about it and, for basketball fans like me, this is both intriguing and fun. Halberstam is probably the ultimate basketball writer and the short articles here are the cream of the crop (as are his basketball books). I don't remember a single article from this section and of the moments I remember, Halberstam is back in 'back in the good old days' mode that makes current reading kind of frustrating.
126 Athletic maturity: sheer ability and willingness to accept responsibility. Reggie Smith - He was trying to be a good ambassador, a good baseball player and a good teammate, but it was getting harder all the time. Smith: Sometimes I think the most paralyzing thing in this game-probably in this country-is the fear of failure. 105 (Torre) is quietly strong-a strength that comes form a healthy sense of accureately appraised self-value, and a willingness, if need be, to walk away from any situation which might be unacceptable difficult or abusive. 141 During that time out, Plump (Milan HS - 'Hoosiers' basis) sensing the crowd, and the noise and the tension, almost fifteen thousand people engulfed in their own madness, felt nervous for the first time. 172 It is one thing to have tremendous athletic ability and quite another to discipline it, master it and apply it with great skill in situations of constant and enormous pressure.
Divided into different sports with a few stories under each topic the book certainly did contain some writing that was very special. As clearly as Halberstam loved baseball the only story in this section which stood out for me was a piece on Reggie Smith that was originally published in Playboy. Reading a few different pieces in this book it becomes apparent that, for whatever reason, Halberstam often cannibalized his own work. In at least three different pieces in the book we read the same anecdotes and storylines of how the author, and the country, came to love football.
The thing is, I don't read books by other authors, I only read Halberstam's take on sports. An essay about Muhammad Ali becomes a discussion of his stance3 on Viet Nam which in turn leads to a discussion of Halberstam's own views on the way, which are uniquely his own, having spent years covering the way far away from the United States.
I was looking forward to this collection - I was a fan of his columns on ESPN.com back in the "Page 2" days (RIP), and a couple more of his works are on my "to-read" list.
David Halberstam was an American journalist and historian, known for his work on the Vietnam War, politics, history, the Civil Rights Movement, business, media, American culture, and later, sports journalism. After publication of The Best and the Brightest in 1972, Halberstam plunged right into another book and in 1979 published The Powers That Be. The book provided profiles of men like William Paley of CBS, Henry Luce of Time magazine, Phil Graham of The Washington Postand many others.