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Product Details

  • Series: P.S.
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (July 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061132985
  • ASIN: B004JZWM8U
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,631,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a candid yet somewhat disjointed account, Dubner (Turbulent Souls) explores the causes and effects of his devotion to a childhood hero. Dubner's father died when he was relatively young, and Dubner, growing up in rural New York, latched onto Pittsburgh Steeler great Franco Harris as a role model and a source of strength. While much of the book chronicles Dubner's efforts to catch up to Harris and investigate his former (and newly awakened) feelings of awe for him, it attempts to deal with much more. As Dubner explains to Harris at a Pittsburgh restaurant, "I'm also interested in the whole idea of the hero, of the role model. I'm interested in the relationship between a hero and a hero worshiper. I'm interested in how a hero lives through the spotlight and what he does with his life after the spotlight has been turned off." The problem, it turns out, is that Franco really isn't interested. He obviously prefers the relationship to be a distant one, and he'd much rather be tending to the affairs of his nutritional donut company than sharing insights with a starstruck writer. While Dubner's repeated, failed attempts to meet up with Harris are somewhat humorous, the book suffers from Harris's lack of cooperation. One can't help but wonder if a chapter on hero worship that includes the 19th-century historian Thomas Carlyle and the founder of the Lubavitcher sect of Hasidic Jews isn't the product of Dubner digging too deeply for material. While the book doesn't come together as a whole, Dubner's elegant, deeply honest writing will keep readers engaged.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Dubner, whose worship of football player Franco Harris sustained him through a difficult childhood that included the loss of his father, learned some important lessons when he tracked down Harris later in life. From the author of Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return to His Jewish Family.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Stephen J. Dubner is an award-winning author, journalist, and TV and radio personality. In addition to "Freakonomics," "SuperFreakonomics," and "Think Like a Freak," his books include "Turbulent Souls" (also published as "Choosing My Religion"), "Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper," and "The Boy With Two Belly Buttons," a children's book. He is the host of "Freakonomics Radio," an award-winning podcast and public-radio show; he also hosted the NFL Network show "Football Freakonomics," which was nominated for an Emmy. Dubner's journalism has been published in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Time, and elsewhere, and has been anthologized in "The Best American Sports Writing," "The Best American Crime Writing," and elsewhere. He taught English at Columbia University (while receiving an M.F.A. there), played in a rock band (which started at Appalachian State University, where he was an undergrad, and was later signed to Arista Records), and, as a writer, was first published at the age of 11, in Highlights for Children. He lives in New York City with his wife, the documentary photographer Ellen Binder, and their two delicious children.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 13 customer reviews
I agree that this book is profound and beautifully written.
Vibes
I know what it is like to be a teenager and to think that this person really would be your good friend if only they knew you.
crazyforgems
This is a most enjoyable easy read....a pleasant true story.
Beverly Berlin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Barbara Koltuv on January 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Stephen J. Dubner is the child of two first generation Brooklyn Jews, who had each converted to Catholicism during the second world war. They met, married, moved to Upstate New York and had eight children. Stephen was the youngest. When he was nine his father died, and Stephen began dreaming about a mysterious, black Italian, Pittsburgh Steelers football player named Franco Harris. Stephen signed his school papers Franco Dubner, and wore a Steelers Jersey. He fiercely followed Harris' life and career for all the years of his lonely childhood and adolescence. Twenty years later, a grown man, a published author, a New York Times magazine editor and writer, Dubner caught sight of his boyhood hero's picture on the cover of Black Enterprise magazine. He was seized by a strong desire to find his boyhood hero and try to understand the meaning of his long and passionate hero worship. Dubner's search is an extraordinary story of love, loss, and healing. The writing is beautiful and honest. I laughed and cried. Even the descriptions of Harris' football playing held my interest, and I am no sports fan. This is a tremendously moving, authentic story of how the human spirit can transcend the most terrible tragedy, with glorious grace.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It seemed like a simple story about a man who tracks down his childhood hero. Becomes much more than that, though. It's about life, love, football, fatherhood, sonhood, etc. Dubner is a great writer. Smart, funny, gentle, with an old-fashioned ear for storytelling. Couldn't put it down, was really sad when it ended.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Beverly Berlin on March 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Having read, enjoyed and reviewed Mr. Dubner's first book, "TURBULENT SOULS", I was most anxious to read his latest book, "CONFESSIONS OF A HERO WORSHIPPER". I found the book to be full of entertaining humor as Mr. Dubner seeks out and finds his childhood hero, Franco Harris, star football player of the Pitttsburgh Steelers. It also explains the need of a hero to come into Mr. Dubner's life to help him deal with the loss of his own father when Stephen was a small boy.This is a most enjoyable easy read....a pleasant true story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By crazyforgems on May 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I too worshipped a sports God in my youth-in my case, it was Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins. Thus, I could relate to Dubner's moving tribute to his hero, Franco Harris. I know what it is like to be a teenager and to think that this person really would be your good friend if only they knew you.
Dubner takes one small aspect of American society shared by many people-the worship of a sports hero at a young age-and explores it. He meets Harris as an adult and decides to write a book on him. Only the experience doesn't turn out to be the dream of a lifetime. In many ways, it is more of a nightmare.
The reader feels for both the author and Harris. Franco Harris clearly is an athlete who has moved on with his life, much to his credit. At times, the author seemed to almost stalk him. Yet you feel for the author also. No one should lose the image of a hero at any stage in his or her life.
I would recommend this book for sports lovers of all ages and both genders. If you're not into sports, then this would be a more challenging read. Yet most people have heroes in their youth in many arenas (sports, history, politics), so in that sense, the book's theme is universal.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kitty on July 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
After reading Stephen Dubner's first book, Turbulent Souls, I couldn't wait to read his latest work. I thoroughly enjoyed Confessions of a Hero Worshiper. It is a poignant, beautifully-written story about Dubner, who as a ten-year-old boy, grasped on to his football hero to help him survive his loneliness and insecurity after his father died. Dubner's childhood hero was Franco Harris of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the "man of steel" becomes much more to the young, fatherless boy than anyone would ever imagine. In school Dubner even wrote his name as "Franco Dubner" on his papers. For the next 4 years, Dubner has the same dream every night of meeting Franco Harris, inviting him over to his house for dinner, and playing a game of football in the backyard with him afterwards. Every night in the dream, Franco breaks his ankle just as he's about to score a touchdown. He hands the ball to Dubner and tells him, "You gotta take it from here yourself, kid." The words end up being prophetic.
Fast forward about twenty-five years. Dubner is now a successful writer and former editor of the NY Times Magazine. When he spies a magazine cover sporting Franco Harris's picture, his long-buried feelings are rekindled. Dubner is overcome by a deep desire to meet his hero and let him know what an important part he played in Dubner's young life.
When Dubner finally gets to rubs elbows with Franco Harris, the time spent with him and his athlete buddies is both exhilerating and frustrating. What transpires between them over the next months enables Dubner to finally shed his childhood ghosts when he comes to an epiphany of sorts. The story is both a heartfelt and at times hilarious account of Dubner's trip back into his past as he comes to grips with the present and discovers the secret to his future.
The story is so engaging and well-written that I couldn't put it down...and me, a sports fan...NOT!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Goyer on August 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's easy to get caught up in the little details of our lives, getting kids off to school, getting the car (or dog) fixed, paying the mortgage, raking the leaves, and doing the thousand other things that we do, so much that we forget or never get the big picture.

But it's impossible to get through even a chapter of Confessions of a Hero Worshipper, by Stephen J. Dubner, without stepping back taking a longer look at our own trajectories.

In fact, the book, which details a psychic journey of mythic proportions conducted by shuttle between New York and Pittsburgh, is nothing but a long look back at the childhood of the author, carefree until his father's unexpected death at 57 years of age. Dubner proceeded to do what any 10 year old kid would have done, set about to replace that figure, and he promptly selected a football player, Franco Harris of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who in very unlikely fashion proceeded to fill the gap in a profound way. For a time Dubner signed his school work, "Franco Dubner."

Dubner grew up, went off to college, got a job and pretty much forgot Franco, until a chance sighting of the former football star on a magazine cover ignited a fool's errand, for the author to actually meet his childhood hero and establish a connection.

In the process Dubner is forced to re-examine the loss of his father, look long and hard at how he filled that void and, more importantly, take stock of the remaining sense of loss and sorrow.

In reading the book, I found it impossible not to examine such holes in my past, as well.
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