Reviews of 4 recent and upcoming sports books - Issue 13
I’ve published a bunch of reviews in the last week of some really excellent sports books. Here are 4 recent or upcoming books I've really enjoyed together with the usual list of upcoming books to keep an eye out for.
⚽ Scheisse! We’re Going Up! The Unexpected Rise of Berlin’s Rebel Football Club by Kit Holden - will be published in August 2022
Scheisse is an absolutely brilliant book. It tells the history and uniqueness of Union Berlin through the eyes of its fans. It captures the very essence of why sport matters, the importance of recognizing that clubs are more than simply entities to be commercialized, and the often overlooked fact that change, while inevitable, does not have to mean the loss of that which was special about what already existed.
🏈'Hometown Victory: A Coach's Story of Football, Fate, and Coming Home' by Keanon Lowe with Justin Spitzman - published May 2022
The story of a remarkable young coach who channeled his own grief into helping an underfunded, disadvantaged, high-school football team to find hope and purpose on the playing field and in life. A very enjoyable, inspiring book.
⚾‘The Saga of Sudden Sam: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of Sam McDowell’ by Sam McDowell with Martin Gitlin - published in March 2022
Autobiography of Sam McDowell, former Cleveland and 6 time All-Star pitcher. A book is a fascinating insight into baseball during the 60s and 70s, the job of pitching in the major leagues, and the perils of alcoholism and addiction in a sporting environment. It can be a difficult read at times, but as title tells us, don’t worry it ends with redemption!
⛳ ‘Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf's Most Colorful Superstar’ by Alan Shipnuck - published May 2002
This just published bio of Phil Mickelson has gotten huge media attention due to his comments on Saudi Arabia and the breakaway golf tour they are launching.
Shipnuck is a veteran gold reporter and the golf side of Mickelson’s life is as well told as you’d expect. It presents Phil as the fascinating player he’s always been and zooms in on the most memorable tournaments and wins.
It’s the presentation of Phil the man which is most interesting part of the book. It’s packed full of anecdotes which present two contrasting sides of Mickelson - money obsessed yet incredibly generous, trash talker yet supportive of new pros, self-obsessed yet capable of great empathy.
The golfer is definable - a player of immense talent who loves to win, needs to play aggressively and stirs emotion by the way he plays. The man is much less clear-cut probably best summed up by the quote ‘he’s a phony, but a genuine phony’.
It’s a very different style to the great 2018 Tiger bio - much more anecdotal but this works well and enables Shipnuck to interweave his personal interactions while reporting on the Tour. It’s a reporters bio rather than a historian’s, but all the more readable for that
The countless anecdotes and behind the scenes info are both interesting and illuminating. Indeed, the first chapter is a range of people answering the question ‘what’s your best Phil story’ - an inspired editorial choice. Overall ‘Phil’ is a very entertaining and enjoyable read.
New Sports Books - What’s out recently or coming out soon?
⚽ Golden: Why Belgian Football is More Than One Generation by James Kelly @jkell403. A look at the recent history of Belgian football. (23 May)
🏀 The Black Fives: The Epic Story of Basketball's Forgotten Era by Claude Johnson @ClaudeJohnson. A history of the early days of Black basketball including the introduction of the game to Black communities and the racial integration of the NBA in 1950. @BlackFives (24 May)
🏏Crickonomics: The Anatomy of Modern Cricket by Tim Wigmore @timwig and Stefan Szymanski @sszy. Really enjoyable look at cricket through a data powered lens. Lots of interesting insight on the sports past, present and future (26 May). Reviewed here.
⚽ Scotland's Swedish Adventure: The Story of Scotland's European Championship Debut by John Bleasdale @jbleasdale81. (30 May)
🎾 Dear John: The John Lloyd Autobiography by John Lloyd with Phil Jones. Autobiography of the former British tennis player (30 May)
⚾ Playing Through the Pain: Ken Caminiti and the Steroids Confession That Changed Baseball Forever by Dan Good @Dgood73. The story of the first MLB player, a respected MVP, to admit taking performance enhancing steroids and the impact that confession had on baseball (31 May)
Thanks for reading. Let me know your thoughts, opinions, any improvements I can make etc. Catch me on Twitter. More books next week!