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American Pastimes: the Very Best of Red Smith (The Library of America) Hardcover – May 16, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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About the Author

Daniel Okent is the author of several books, including the baseball classic 9 Innings and, most recently, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, which served as a major source for the 2011 Ken Burns/Lynn Novick miniseries Prohibition. In November 2011, Last Call won the Albert J. Beveridge prize, awarded by the American Historical Association to the year’s best book of American history.
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Product Details

  • Series: Library of America
  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America; First Edition edition (May 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598532170
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598532173
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.5 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #576,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Red Smith is inarguably one of the ten greatest sportswriters in history... and it wasn't just for the near half-century that he blessed the world with his pristine prose... that ranged from Ebbets Field... to boxing canvases'... to pristine lakes and rivers... to horse tracks... to many... many bars in between. When I was a kid of eight years old and started inhaling sports books and biographies and encyclopedias... almost every one had a quote from... or a reference to... Red Smith... so his greatness will live on for eternity through innumerable hardcover archives. He could make you laugh... he could make you cry... and his columns ranged from his anger with a cowardly Jersey Joe Walcott... to the death of Babe Ruth... to his one "sportly" participation... fishing... and his otherworldly use of words could actually tie such diverse locales together as if they were born to. One great example is somehow... almost magically connecting a heavyweight boxing match to the pursuit of a trout:

"On a cast across the brook, the fly was swept close to the concrete abutment. In the clear, swift water there was a flash of pursuit, but the attacker merely pawed with a light jab, then turned and fled like Jersey Joe Walcott. Neither insult nor bribe could tempt him back to fight like a man."

Oh, my Lord... what a blessing... the invention of words... for Red Smith... and I'm sure the almighty creator of words feels he was blessed by Red Smith!

There are over 500 pages in this book... and over 150 priceless columns from Red Smith... they are so spectacular... that they can make a sports fanatic weep... and jump for joy simultaneously... and the same can be said for a college professor of creative writing. There are two ways I can see enjoying this book...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have all of the books that have come out on Red Smith's columns and I must admit I buy them for the baseball that is included in each one. In addition to the baseball in this book I also read those on football and boxing. Those on golf, fishing, and horse racing I did not read. Red has said in other books that he finds basketball "boring." I didn't see any basketball stories of note in the book. Therefore, my rating of five stars is based on those columns I have read. If you enjoy sports I would certainly suggest you buy a copy of this book from one of America's premier sports writers. My personal favorite sports writers were Jim Murray, Wells Twombly, and Joe Falls all of whom have passed on.

This book is heavy on baseball columns from Red Smith's past in addition to columns on various pertinent happenings from the 1940s through the 1970s on other sports as well.

I would strongly suggest those interested in learning to write or become a sports writer to read the various sports writers including this book by Red Smith. I'm sure you will come away with writing tips that would prove to be beneficial. Red had a unique skill in putting words together to make his point humorous and enlightening.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Library of America has truly hit a grand slam with this superb collection of Red Smith's writings. The consummate master of the 800-word essay, Smith, likely our greatest sports writer (among many fine candidates), is probably best known for his baseball writing, though he brought his inimitable style and insight to other sporting endeavors. Horse racing and boxing were particular passions; e.g., his columns on the death of Seabiscuit (everybody remembers the book and movie) and the then-Cassius Clay/Sonny Liston fight are particularly noteworthy. But baseball was his "center of gravity." His insights into personality, character, and circumstance are simply masterful. Arguably his most representative baseball column was that on Bobby Thompson's "shot heard 'round the world" home run given the New York Giants the pennant over the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951. A wonderful collection to get lost in. If Smith's writings are not used in English composition classes, they clearly should be.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This collection provides a completely representative presentation of Red Smith's extraordinarily excellent sports writing.As a 73 year old sports fan I appreciated the many fond memories brought back by Red Smith's columns about dramatic characters and events of American sports' heyday.The very high literary quality of his writng is sorely missed today.Daniel Okrent has done a terrific job of choosing columns which accurately portray the decades of sports covered by Red Smith while leaving no doubt about the qulalities of truly great sports writing.
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I am an ardent sports fan. Unfortunately, our present-day sportswriters make a negative tone the center of their art. If you feel as I do about the sad state of present-day sports writing, American Pastimes: The Very Best of Red Smith, is the book for you. Red's style is as clear as the mountain trout streams he loved to visit when not writing his sports columns. Red Smith not only cares about the sports in his columns, he cares deeply about the human beings he writes about. He gives you a fresh approach to the human and often unique dramas provoked by the games we Americans love, such as boxing, baseball, football, basketball, horse racing and...yes...even trout or bass fishing. You feel the inevitable pathos of a champion, like Joe Lewis or Jersey Joe Walcott, after losing to the emerging champion Rocky Marciano. Red Smith allows you to savor the moment, the tragic impact of time on both the great and the nearly great. Always, Red keeps it simple, focused, relevant, and capable of touching either the heart or the reader's sense of irony. Above all, Red was there. He lived in the moment of these stories. He kept them short, and he insisted on the truth. He does not judge or belittle his subject. He never writes down to the everyday reader. After all, he is one of them. This book should be an enduring legacy of his greatness.
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