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on March 24, 2012
Once again Jim Dodson proves himself a master story teller with a masterful feel for the game of golf. By telling, with intimate detail, the stories of Snead, Nelson and Hogan he bridges the gap between the Hagan and Bobby Jones era to the modern surge with Palmer, Jack and Gary Player. We who have been trapped in Tiger era are painfully reminded that Snead, Nelson and Hogan were even more dominant in their time and were winning often against each other. In addition to great golfing skills, al three men were quietly generous with the bounty of their success. Dodson writes like he was there and the reader gets to be there too. Anyone with a love of history and golf lore will enjoy this wonderful book.
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on March 22, 2012
What a wonderful Book!! Maybe the best golf book ever written. Dodson brings The Modern Age Of Golf right into one's life. One feels as if he grew up with Sam, Ben, and Byron, met and understood them and their families, and was present when they grew old and they were no longer of this world. If you love history and if you love golf you will love American Triumvirate. JJ
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on April 10, 2012
I know I won't be the only one that bought this book hoping to get yet another glimpse at Ben Hogan's life. Having read the majority of anything related to the man, I went into this reading with an open mind, knowing the majority of what I would read would either be a rehash or if I was lucky, a different perspective on the now historic events of his life.

I wasn't disappointed with the Ben Hogan portions of the book, and although they were mostly very well known details, I did find a gem or two along the way. Again, I expected that - what I didn't expect was to get a much better glimpse at another one of my very favorite golfers, Mr. Sam Snead. While Byron's role in the book is somewhat diminished simply because he bowed out of this triumvirate early on, Snead shares the spotlight with Hogan in a way that I would venture to say might have pleased him. The undertones in the book are obvious, although they amounted to good friends in the end, Sam Snead took on the role of Hogan's principal rival/motivator once Lord Byron decided to hang up his clubs for quite literally, greener pastures.

I've read a few books on Snead, and countless stories on his life on tour but before this book I hadn't read an autobiography on the man and didn't have enough context to truly see the incredible rivalry Sam and Ben had and how they influenced each other during their time as Golf's undisputed titans.

Great read for fans of both players but it can drag a bit since it's also a historical piece that more or less documents all the notables achievements of all three men's careers.
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on June 21, 2012
Ken Orton nailed it in his review. Knopf should be embarrassed to have let this be printed.
I enjoyed Dodson's earlier books on Hogan and Palmer and his Final Rounds is one of my favorites. But this time he seems to have slapped together a book for a timely celebration of the 100th birthdays of the famous trio and it includes every kind of mistake you can make. First, there are several errors that are obvious examples of spell-check laziness. For example, Hogan "kept Palmer on the sidelines for the second-day tour balls."
In addition there are baffling insertions such as "..., Jack Grout may have straightened out Bennie Hogan's 'hog killer' grip five and certainly encouraged him ...." There also are many instances of redundancies, either as repetition of anecdotes or duplicated words within sentences.
Then there are errors of fact. Historians will be surprised to read that the Lend Lease program in WWII was actually Roosevelt's encouragement of American manufacturers to lend or lease equipment to the Brits, instead of the US government's somewhat misleading "loan" of warships in exchange for leases to the United Kingdom's Caribbean naval bases, thereby excluding the British from a strategic military region. And physiologists will wince when they read that the 'vena cava' is the blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart to the extremities rather than the major vein that returns blood, and in Hogan's case life-threatening clots from his legs, to the heart and then into the lungs. Now it may seem excessive for me to complain about these errors in a golf book, but Dodson provides this kind of detail to enhance his story and he has an obligation to check his facts. The ligation of Hogan's inferior vena cava (IVC) explains why he had to wrap his legs in bandages when he returned to play- he needed the compression to keep his legs from swelling as blood pooled because of the poor return circulation. This made his later success much more remarkable because standing for long periods is just about the worst thing you can do without an IVC.
Finally, there may be multiple errors in his accounts of tournaments. In this passage about the 1950 US Open at Merion, we learn that "The halfway lead was shared by Dutch Harrison, Jim Ferrier, and Johnny Bulla. Young Julius Boros ... held the lead." How could this have been missed unless no qualified editor read the book from beginning to end?
The sloppiness means I cannot be sure about the accuracy of his stories. Even worse, it makes me wonder if he really gave this idea the treatment it deserves. He starts with a grand premise that this American Triumvirate was crucial to the future of golf but in the end I felt like the book was more of a 'triography' than a story of the foundation of an era in professional sports.
Still, if you are a lover of golf and have not read Dodson's Hogan book, and if you have not read biographies of Snead and Nelson, you will find a lot to savor. I just hope he makes corrections before the next printing.
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on April 9, 2012
Golf always tells a story. The plots of the game's major championships are as varied as Elizabethan drama, and both inspire and haunt all those who watch as events unfold on some of the most magnificent venues in all of sports. In "American Triumvirate, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, and the Modern Age of Golf," award winning golf writer James Dodson offers readers rare and highly researched insights into one of the most important eras in the game's colorful history. The miraculous nature of these three men's lives, and how they were linked was evident early on. All were born in 1912 and would have been 100-years old if they were alive today. The fact that Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson, both destined to become among the greatest champions of their generation, both caddied together as boys at the same golf club in Texas defies even the hyperbolic logic of a Hollywood screenwriter. There is magic in the tales of these men's stories, and Dodson captures it all with an almost mystical reverence for what they accomplished. Greatness comes at a price, and this book helps you to understand the commitment of these great players. Dodson, who wrote a regular column for "Golf Magazine" for almost twenty years, clearly demonstrates his access to all of the key characters in this threefold biography and is positively lavish in layering intimate and interesting details. Here you will find interviews and comments not only by Hogan, Nelson, and Snead, but also by players who came before them or were influenced by their devotion to the game. The reader will learn how the PGA was formed, a complete history of the evolution of the golf ball, and what it was like to play on the tour before the big money and private jets. Your knowledge and love of the game will be enhanced by this truly impressive book. Forgotten Strokes
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on May 13, 2012
Well timed on the 100 year anniversary of the birth of these 3 legends. The author again (this is the 2nd book of his I have read)does not disappoint and finally has captured, in tandem, the careers of these remarkable individuals, as they occurred, side by side, thereby putting the reader in the moment. The narrative never loses sight of the bigger picture, setting the events against the backdrop of world events and the perpetual impact it was having to the course professional golf was charting. What I enjoyed also was that the author merely mentions the swing mechanics and issues of these wonderful but distinctively diverse golfers, rather than delve too deeply into this subject, thereby keeping the theme intact. Furthermore, the presentation in hardcover, is splendid. The only minor negative I would mention, but I stress minor to the point of microscopic, is the photos included in the book are what keen golf readers have seen in countless books, magazines and articles, and offer no new or fresh visuals. However, the book is a must read, going so far for me to say it would serve as the definitive on the subject.
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VINE VOICEon May 26, 2012
It's been almost 30 years ago now, but I can still remember it clearly. I was at the D.A. Weibring Pro/Am in Quincy, Illinois, where I grew up and was a bit of a golfer myself. I was walking down one of the cart paths at Quincy Country Club, where the tournament was being held. The bulk of the action was elsewhere at the moment and the path was quiet, when I came across and older man sitting alone in a golf cart. I recognized him right away, and for the next 10 minutes or so, until someone came to get him, I had a quiet conversation about golf with Byron Nelson. Before he left, he signed my cap, which I can see from here as I write, sitting on the top of one of my bookshelves, as it has ever since the day I met him.

I mention this anecdote, not because it is my only real brush with golfing greatness, but because I thought of it often as I read Mr. Dodson's triple biography of Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, and Ben Hogan. When you meet someone in life, even for a few minutes, and then encounter them in print, if the person you read about doesn't jibe with your experience then it is difficult to accept and enjoy what you're reading. Fortunately, the good-natured gentleman that Dodson describes as Byron Nelson easily reflected my image of him and made this book a pleasure to read.

I knew a bit about golf's great stars before reading this--more about Nelson and Hogan than Snead--but I learned much in this well-researched, well-told biography. I knew little about their respective youths, from their closeness in age to the physical proximity of Nelson and Hogan as young caddies at the same club. Most interesting to me was how professional golf was conducted in those pre- and post-WWII days with the rise and fall of various clubs and tournaments, and the lengths golfers sometimes had to go to to pursue their careers. It is amazing when you consider how big a business golf is today. (For someone whose has been fortunate enough to go to the Masters on one occasion, it is also wonderful to read about the start of the tournament and the development of its traditions.)

Dodson has chosen his subjects well. Not only are they joined together historically in their sport with their incredible achievements, but their sharply contrasting personalities and approaches to the game make this book fascinating. Anyone who has an interest in golf and its history would be well advised to read American Triumvirate.
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on June 25, 2012
Here are a couple of words to describe this delightful book: Highly entertaining, very well researched, great golf history and very well written.

1912, the year of the birth of three of the greatest golfer the game has ever had.

Snead, Hogan and Nelson all had a hard start in life, but golf brought them fame, riches and an opportunity to shape the game they loved and for others to follow

Should you be a fan of the game, or just a golfer, or a fan of sport history, or just a curious bystander trying to figure out what all the fuss about golf is, then read this great book.

It will allow you to really appreciate the historical perspective of the game, the competitveness of the players and how they were shaped not only by the game but by the times they lived in.

Golf has a rich history, and those players, Snead, Nelson, and Hogan, were essential to it and its development. They were the trailblazers for championship golf.

They are many other characters mentioned here as well, three of many favorites being Jimmy Demaret and Billy Casper, Julius Boros.

James Dobson is meticulous in his writing, and makes sure to include all needed details to make his subject come alive.

You will enjoy learning each golfer's life, from early childhood to the last days of their lives.

Golf has come a long way and professional golfers have become superstars, but these three players paved the way for all of them.

Great read and highly recommended
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on April 11, 2014
It is difficult to imagine a richer era of competition than the time portrayed in this story.

The three very disparate personalities of Byron Nelson, Sam Snead and Ben Hogan make this a compelling read, and lay out the subtleties of this great gentlemanly game.

Byron Nelson was a humble, God fearing man who would draw within himself to project himself to the very apex of the tour, winning tournament after tournament until he spent himself. Ben Hogan was the driven athlete who, it seemed was too small, too fragile or too mean to become a true champion. But before his career was over, many considered him to be the greatest golfer of all- time,

And Sam Snead was the big hitting hillbilly who won more tournaments than any other man.

They all overcame wrenching heartbreak at some point on the tour, and they all had thinly disguised jealousy of each other entwined with massive respect.

Most significantly, they all pushed each other to heights they would not have scaled had they not competed in the same era.

An eloquently and at times, movingly told story braiding the lives of these three great champions together. A highly worthwhile read.
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on January 6, 2013
I picked up American Triumvirate after seeing that it made it to the 2012 NY Times 100 Notable Books list. Although I am not a golfer and am not steeped in the rich history of the sport, I very much enjoyed how the author James Dodson really went in depth not only into the biographies of Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, and Byron Nelson but also how golf itself really benefited from their rise in the game together. Each of the three characters had their own quirks and oddities. At times they were friends although they always were rivals. Of the three, I very much enjoyed learning more about Sam Snead. He was probably the craziest of the 3 both in speech and mannerisms. The discussion about him struggling to win a US Open was painful at times. But you couldn't help believing that he is someone you would enjoy spending time with while Byron and Ben were more reserved and didn't mix with the fans as much. At times, the book gets bogged down in too much detail about each and every match but overall it was quite an enjoyable read and I came away with a new appreciation for these three giants in their field.
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