Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Halberstam selects the fifty best pieces of sports writing of this century. The Best American Sports Composing of the Century showcases the best sports journalists of the twentieth century, from Jimmy Cannon, Red Smith, William Mack, Gary Smith, and Frank Deford to A. J. Liebling, Tom Wolfe, and Hunter S. Thompson, and consists of such classics as "What Do You Consider Ted Williams Now?" by Richard Ben Cramer, "Louis Knocks Out Schmeling" by Bob Considine, and "The Rocky Roadway of Pistol Pete" by W. C. Heinz. This outstanding collection captures not only the century's biggest minutes in baseball, boxing, horseracing, golf, and tennis, however a few of the finest writing of our time. Guest editor David Halberstam is the author of The Numeration, The Summer season of Forty-Nine, The Breaks of the Game, and, most recently, The Kid. Series editor Glenn Stout has actually composed biographies of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and Jackie Robinson.Given the general vitality
and volume of sports writing in America throughout the 20th century, the concept of putting together a single collection called the "best" needs a bold stabilizing act of boldness and special. And that's simply exactly what it is. Sports fans-- however why limit this gleaming, spirited, enthusiastic prose to simply sports fans?-- will relish the equilibrium of David Halberstam's and Glenn Stout's wide range of choices. Their tribute to the knights of the keyboards is Hall of Fame-level from cover to cover.
Halberstam and Stout do not waste whenever. They lead off with among the fantastic tours de force of American nonfiction, Gay Talese's strikingly poignant, 1966 profile of a moody Joe DiMaggio, "The Silent Season of a Hero." Before you can finish digesting it, they loudly switch gears to Tom Wolfe's "The Last American Hero," a razzle-dazzle appearance at Junior Johnson and the world of stock-car racing. By the time Best takes the checkered flag nearly 800 pages later on, it has actually covered a remarkably rich and differed course that goes through the pens of such amazing talents as Grantland Rice, Red Smith, Frank Deford, W.C. Heinz, Jim Murray, Murray Kempton, Ring Lardner, John Lardner, Jimmy Breslin, Al Stump, John Updike, John McPhee, Hunter Thompson, Norman Mailer, Jon Krakauer, Tom Boswell, Roger Angell, and David Remnick. Whew!
Like the best sportswriting, of course, Best is far more than enjoyable and games, though there's lots of that in its pages. Best is history captured on the fly through the games we play and the remarkable players-- Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis, Mohammad Ali, Secretariat, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Red Grange-- who play them. From choice to choice, writes Halberstam in his introduction, "we view the nation modification." Definitely, sports-- and sportswriting-- have actually offered America a magnificent box seat for the contemplation of its own transformations.--Jeff Silverman