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Arnie & Jack: Palmer, Nicklaus, and Golf's Greatest Rivalry Hardcover – April 11, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition (April 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618754466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618754465
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,032,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this lengthy and occasionally slow-going read, sports columnist O'Connor documents the decades-long rivalry between Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. The two men couldn't have been more different, both on the field and off. Palmer, several years Nicklaus's senior, was an effortlessly charming man, a self-made champion from humble Pennsylvania roots who bashed line drives with astounding force. Nicklaus, meanwhile, was more introverted and endured endless taunting from those who saw him as a cheerless striver caring only about winning. The two men rode their rivalry as golf grew from a sleepy amateur-only sport through its postwar boom into one of America's leading pastimes. Along the way, the men (whose wives became fast friends, and who themselves got along reasonably well) also accrued massive fortunes through an endless string of endorsements, business deals and golf-course building. As rivalries go, Nicklaus and Palmer's is more interesting than some, and O'Connor's account will likely appeal to hardcore golf fans. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Thrillingly dramatic depictions… Comprehensive interviews humanize the two legends while contextualizing their roles in the game's history… Exemplary.
Kirkus Reviews

"Finely written, intricately researched and smartly reported." --

"Superb...Arresting." New York Post

"You can't go wrong writing or reading about those two guys, and O'Connor certainly got it right." Newsday

"Fascinating . . . A nice mix of golf history and interpersonal dynamics." Booklist, ALA

"A considerable amount of original research... Recommended." Library Journal

"Refreshing and captivating." Tampa Tribune

"O’Connor’s readers a picture-perfect view of how they made the sport what it is today." — John Feinstein

“…THE definitive book on [Arnie and Jack’s] often complicated but honorable relationship.” — Gene Wojciechowski

“O’Connor explains the most complicated of human relationships in the simplest of terms…the fascinating journey…should not be missed.” — Bill Plaschke

“A classic work…the most riveting personal moments...[it] is the best thing I’ve read in a long while.” — Edwin Pope

“O’Connor, reporting in rich detail … while lifting golf to the big leagues of American sports.” — Dave Kindred

". . . an exceptional read." USA Today

"O’Connor's book is great because it reminds you how much fun and how ferocious golf used to be." Kansas City Star

Customer Reviews

An excellent book - well written and very insightful.
Fred Thimmel
An excellent telling of the golfing rivalry and friendship of these two greatest golfers, Much more than I expected.
Sherry Scott
It's the first book I've read from Ian O'Connor and I was not disappointed.
Abe's Beard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By tides24 on May 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I grew up a member of Jack's Pack, having been born a little too late to be a soldier in Arnie's Army. It's funny how sports moments can stay with you. As I watched the Masters this year, in my mind's eye, I could see the Golden Bear prowling those greens. Ghosts of Augusta.

This book tells the tale of two of Golf's titans, both their individual stories, and the story of their complicated relationship, from the first time they met, to the present day. Arnold Palmer, muscular arms bulging out of his short-sleeved shirts, cigarette hanging from his lips, going for every pin, with that wild looking swing of his. Jack Nicklaus: once Fat Jack, before he transformed himself. Picture perfect on the course, but not with the galleries, never getting the love that they showered on Palmer, the King. To say it was love/hate would be an understatement. They competed to the death in everything, but cared about each other much more than they would let on. Ironically, each wanted to be the other. Arnie wanted all those Majors, and the title of Greatest Golfer ever. Jack wanted the popularity and love that Arnie always had. But as Arnie said, "You can only be so many things in life."

The book is wonderfully written. You almost feel like you were there, as the author describes so many memorable Arnie/Jack duels. There is also a fascinating look at their wives. Winnie Palmer & Barbara Nicklaus were fast friends from the moment they met, even as their husbands were trying to beat each other's brains out. When I finished this book, I remember thinking, "I really enjoyed that." I think you will,too.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By An old time wrestling fan on April 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Mr. O'Connor has done a fine job with his work on the Palmer-Nicklaus rivalry. No matter which side of the fence you may be on (Arnie's Army or Jack's Pack), there are enduring lessons to be learned here as well as a lot of inside information about two of the all time greats of the game so many of us love. If you have any memories of either of these guys in, or even close to, their primes, you can purchase this book with confidence knowing you have a wonderful read ahead of you.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By C. Hutton on April 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Fifty years ago, the greatest rivalry in golf began. By forty years ago, it was all over, with the domination of Jack Nicklaus over Arnold Palmer. So for those who didn't live through it (and for those who did), Mr. O'Connor chronicles the the rise of Big Golf with these two men. Mr. Palmer with his come from behind wins and self-taught style came of age with the TV set and was golf's first superstar. Mr. Nicklaus was not the risk-taker on the golf course that Mr. Palmer was --which is why Arnie had his "Army" and Jack had all the major championships. Their rivalry continued in the business arena after their golfing days. Mr. O'Connor interviewed everyone who knew them and used every cliche to describe them. Other than that, the book is fun to read and a joy to every golfer.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By marketing maven on April 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Always an Arnie fan, reluctantly a Jack fan, Ian O'Connor has allowed me to go back to a wonderful time in my life. I cut school to watch these two men duel at Baltusrol. I remember seven kids jumping into the pond of the fourth green to recover a misplayed Palmer shot during the 67 US Open. Palmer's charisma has never been replicated, while Jack eventually earned the respect he deserved. Arnie and Jack reveals captivating insights into these two golfing warriors' lives and accomplishments. I had to send copies to my all my golfing buddies, even before Christmas
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Duncan on July 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In order to tell his story, the author goes out of his way to draw a contrast between Palmer and Nicklaus; Jack was calculating, Arnie was daring; Jack wasn't aware of galleries, Arnie played to them; Jack was tubby and not photogenic, Arnie was built like a middleweight prize fighter and charismatic; Arnie played a low draw, Jack a high fade; Arnie was blue collar, Jack was pampered, and on and on. In short, Arnie wanted what Jack had (the best golfing talent) and Jack wanted what Arnie had (fan's adoration.) It's ok to hear this a few times in the early part to set the stage, but the author seems to repeat and rephrase this every few pages. He also makes too much of the Nicklaus/Palmer rivalry, to the near exclusion of any other players entering into the picture.

But the stylistic flaw and over stated case don't overwhelm what is otherwise an extremely well researched book with many heretofore unknown revelations. For example, did you know that:

- Palmer 1st played with Nicklaus in an exhibition when Nicklaus was an amateur. Even at that early age Nicklaus easily won their impromptu long drive competition;
- Nicklaus was relentlessly harassed by Palmer's galleries, no more so than the US Open at Oakmont where he beat Palmer in a playoff;
- Nicklaus hated being paired with Palmer at the Masters in the late 90's, because he never wanted to play a ceremonial role in competition and he was distracted by Arnie's playing to the galleries;
- Their rivalry extended off the course in the arena of product endorsements, golf course design contracts and their own tournaments at Muirfield and Bay Hill.

These are just a few of literally hundreds of "gee, I didn't know that" revelations.
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More About the Author

Ian O'Connor is a nationally acclaimed columnist and author of "The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter," which the Library Journal called "excellent" and the "most complete account" of Jeter's iconic career with the New York Yankees.

O'Connor is also the author of The New York Times' bestseller "Arnie & Jack: Palmer, Nicklaus, and Golf's Greatest Rivalry," a columnist with, and a radio host on 1050 ESPN in New York.

Three times O'Connor has been named the No. 1 columnist in America in his circulation category by the Associated Press Sports Editors, and seven times he has placed among the top five nationally. O'Connor's work has earned dozens of national and regional awards, including the Society of Professional Journalists' prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

O'Connor has won contests conducted by the Golf Writers Association of America, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Basketball Writers Association of America, and the Football Writers Association of America.

O'Connor has been a columnist for The New York Daily News, USA Today,, The Journal News and The Record, and has written for The New York Times and Star-Ledger.

A 1986 graduate of Marist College, O'Connor is a frequent guest on national ESPN TV programs. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and son.

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