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A Handful of Summers Paperback – May 1, 1997


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Paperback, May 1, 1997
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press; 1st edition (May 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558215670
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558215672
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 4.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,249,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

... the best book by a tennis professional. -- The New York Times Book Review, George Plimpton

From the Back Cover

A Handful of Summers is a cult classic. It's a delightfully uninhibited insider's account of tennis on the international circuit - both on and off the court - in the fifties and sixties, the glory days of Fred Perry, Roy Emerson, and Virginia Wade. Forbes begins with his childhood on a farm in South Africa, where he learned to play tennis on a gravel court. His game takes him to Europe, as a South Africa Davis Cup player, and finally to Wimbledon. Along the way he cavorts with extraordinary characters among the world-class players, and their tales, and his, shine throughout this memoir of irresistible wit and humility. (5 X 7 3/4, 352 pages)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 22 customer reviews
Good fun read and lots of interesting facts about well known tennis people. very light and lots of amusing anecdotes..
Barrymore Collier
Forbsy really communicates his love of the game of tennis and that of the great players of an earlier time before big money and endorsements entered the sport.
DAVID M OANCEA
Forbes, a pretty good player half, brilliantly places the reader back in time where he will laugh and enjoy every story.
bob bayliss

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Elena Segal (E.Segal@ukonline.co.uk) on September 13, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is a journey through one man's life in an era so different from today. An insight into the world of 'amateur' tennis and its twists of professionalism. An era when tennis was played for the joy of the game, travelling, a varied existence, and a lack of anything better to do!
This traces the realities of life on the tennis tour in the 50s and 60s and the ups and downs which went with it, especially given that Gordon Forbes was from a culture as complex as that of South Africa.
This books gets you really involved in the lives of some of the greatest tennis legends of all time, and others who strove to reach their heady heights, but never quite made it to the top! This book contains so much passion and honesty that it draws you in. You can almost believe that you are right beside these tennis greats, treading in their every footstep, hearing their every breath. You feel as if you grew up with them, laughed their every laugh, and suffered their every defeat.
This is a must for every lover of tennis, and should not be written off by those who have no interest in the game. This is no ordinary tennis chronicle.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
Gordon Forbes has captured the essence of what sport used to and should still be. From South African farmlands to the lawns of Wimbledon "Forbsie" paints a humorous picture of tennis in the fifties and sixtys. The cast of characters become personal friends and the author like a big brother. A Handful of Summers is among the classics on my bookshelf.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By jsiebrits@yahoo.com on July 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
I think this book was named the best book on tennis by some or other panel. Though I have not read all that many books on the sport, I cannot imagine a better book on tennis, or any other sport for that matter. Forbes is a delightful author, writing with gentle wit and charm about his childhood on a farm in the Eastern Cape, his tennis career and his life after tennis. Reading the book it is impossible not to mourn the passing of an era when sport was played for the enjoyment thereof, and sports star were friends.
A book that should be read by everybody, not only people interested in tennis or sport.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Simeon Jupp on August 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
Haunting, melodic and gentle but, in places, raucous and irreverent. One of the most wonderful books I've read. Hunting down an out of print copy on Amazon, shipped from Florida to HK in a week is a perfect testament to how the internet has changed our lives.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paul Magnussen TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 1, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I agree with the other reviewers: "A Handful of Summers" is the most informative and entertaining book on tennis I've read.

But the 1997 HarperCollins edition is dreadful: the paper quality is poor, and -- most importantly -- all the photographs are missing. I was so disgusted with it I returned it to Amazon and bought a second-hand copy instead.

The five-star rating is for the writing, not the edition.

Be warned.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Spell VINE VOICE on October 17, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was mentioned in Patrick Mcenroe's "Hard Court Confidential" as one of the best tennis memoir's around. Written by Gordon Forbes, a South African player in an era where decent players represented their country and then joined the "club" of amateur players touring the circuit which mainly consisted of the European tournaments. Remember, the Australian Open was a much further trip and not widely visited and as "amateurs", sponsorship to the American tournaments was a real money commitment by someone. Forbes was able to make the American tournaments late in his career and did quite well.

Without a question this was a different era. While others focus on the simpler time, to me the largest difference is the lack of training and commitment it required now to be on the tour. It's just a much more physical game now. This book spends a substantial amount of time on the "club culture" of the tour rather than the brutality of training and single mindedness required today to be a top pro. For example drinking and carousing are discussed at length and while that goes on, today's top players are serious single minded athletes like Sampras and Nadal.

It is interesting to hear Forbes discuss the players on the tour that he was quite close to, particularly the legend of his era, Rod Laver. Included are stories of sharing accommodations in a club member's home vs. the luxury paid-for hotel accommodations the tour players today enjoy. Yes, some still stay with members or volunteers in tour towns but normally that's the struggling up and coming players.

Without a question this is a very interesting book if you are interested in the 50/60s and tennis in general. I strongly recommend this for a revisit to an old era in tennis.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gaynl Keefe on March 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Lovely evocation of the way it was. And some extremely funny bits. Wish we could have the grass courts back. On my way to the Tennis Hall of Fame, right after I watch Rafa and Nole and Roger and Andy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By richard llewelyn evans on February 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A thoroughly enjoyable and engaging romp through the amateur tennis circuit of the 1950s and '60s. Gordon Forbes tells his early ilfe story in an self deprecating and, at times, extremely funny manner. A sports equivalent to David Niven's 'The moons a balloon' in its humour, warmth and tangenital insight into the lives of the not so rich but famous. Great stuff.
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