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The Defender (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Jordan Conn , The Atavist
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $1.99

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Book Description

Manute Bol was the first African-born player in the NBA and, at seven foot seven inches, the tallest. In the 1980s and 90s he was also among the league's most fearsome shot-blockers and its most beloved figures. Off the basketball court, however, Bol's story was more remarkable than most fans ever knew. Activist, gambler, joker, rebel—Bol was a complex man whose fate was inextricably bound with that of the Sudan, his homeland. Writer Jordan Conn traveled to southern Sudan to explore Bol's remarkable path from Africa to the NBA, his rise to stardom and fall into obscurity, and his final role as a renowned humanitarian and key figure in his homeland's independence. Conn's account, the latest Kindle Single from The Atavist, is a funny and moving portrait of a man who lived a life befitting his outsized body.

Jordan Conn is a freelance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He contributes regularly to SI.com, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Slam, and Draft, among others.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

What do "Refrigerator" Perry, Osama bin Laden, Charles Barkley, and Sudanese politics have in common? All touched, or were touched by, the life of a towering crowd-pleaser with a thousand-watt smile and the name of Manute Bol. Behind the six NBA shot-blocking records, Bol was also a drinker and gambler, quick to laugh, generous to a fault, and a lifelong activist on behalf of his people, the Dinka of what is now the independent Republic of Southern Sudan. With reverence and a born storyteller's knack for arresting pace, The Defender tells the tale of Bol's life on and off the court, from his boyhood in Turalei and the legendary story of his lion-killing to his 2010 funeral, marked as it was by "the inevitable benign friction that occurs when worlds collide, the awkwardness amplified by the absence of the one man who linked them all." Highly recommended. --Jason Kirk

Product Details

  • File Size: 138 KB
  • Print Length: 50 pages
  • Publisher: The Atavist (July 6, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005BE3O4Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,096 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable portrait! July 8, 2011
By Chris
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a fan who grew up watching Manute block shots for the Sixers in the early 90's, I enjoyed this brief, "behind-the-scenes" sketch of his public and personal life--especially his active political relationship with Sudan (which I was mostly unaware of). People are rarely as one-dimensional as we sometimes imagine them to be, and Manute is no exception. At appropriate spots in this detailed narrative, I found myself laughing out-loud (if you haven't seen a video of Manute shooting 3's, do so now), engaged by his big, but complicated personality, sobered by Sudan's struggles, and even motivated by Manute's activism.

The first-hand stories make this a must-read, and the writing makes this an enjoyable one. Highly recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-read for hoops fans and non-fans alike July 21, 2011
By Samuel
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
You needn't just be a sports fan to enjoy this read; it will fascinate anyone interested in politics, Africa, Sudan, international affairs, war, fate, sacrifice, community, biography, or just great storytelling. Conn's depth of reporting is obvious in his detail and command of the material, and great pacing gives the story real momentum. Bol was often something of a sideshow on the court, but his real life was alternately inspiring, hilarious, and heartbreaking. This story's many rich vignettes vividly brought Bol to life in my mind and kept me entertained. It's hard not to plow through this in one sitting and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing story July 19, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
From the intro you get the sense you are in the hands of a great storyteller. Taken around the world and back again, the story casts light on current events -- the independence of South Sudan -- through the flawed, but extraordinary life of Manute Bol. I remember watching Bol play when I was a kid, but really had no idea about the life he lived. Turns out his legacy is not a jersey hanging from the rafters, but the freedom of a nation. This is a great read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding August 1, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Conn's e-book is extraordinarily well-researched account of the deeply divided and torn nature of the cultural and political movements in Southern Sudan - an apt metaphor for the life of Manute Bol. As a writer, Conn's prose is perfectly simple, and his lexicon is reminicient of top-tier writers. I look forward to reading more from this author. I'd imagine it won't be too long before his stories are staple headliners in the highest national publications.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I remember when Manute was in Bridgeport. I couldn't get enough of him, this deathly skinny giant swatting basketballs away like flies. You just had to watch highlights on TV when you could see Manute was involved. I remember the Lion story coming up every time another station or newspaper had an interview with him. You just had to like him. He would make you hold your breath when he pulled up to shoot a three and you would go wild if it went in. He was all about family and country and did as much as he could to help out his people. I wish I could have met him. He left us way too soon. I wish the story would have been longer but Jordan Conn said msot everything he needed to for us to get a good glimpse into the life of Manute Bol.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Such an interesting man and such a short read April 18, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The content in "The Defender" was such a quick read and interesting novel and I found myself moving from page to page rather quickly. However, the only problem was the length of the novel, it that I have a difficult time saying this is a novel and is instead a short story. Conn was able to provide deep insight to a rather interesting and comical character on the basketball court and provided depth to a man so much more than a basketball player. I found myself wanting to read more and was left unsatisfied in only the length.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
'The Defender' is a fascinating look at the too-short life of a very tall man, Manute Bol. Basketball fans will be intrigued by this profile, but you don't have to be a fan of sports at all to appreciate the story.

For those who know of Bol's exploits in basketball, Jordan Conn's narrative presents him as more than a shot-blocking, one-trick pony. Conn recounts Bol's fascination with the three-pointer and - when fully healthy - his ability to alter a game through his defensive prowess. More than novelty act, Bol's possibilities and talents seduced a generation of top-flight NBA coaches, most notably Don Nelson and Jim Lyman. Behind the scenes, Conn paints a picture of Bol as a delightful, unique individual, beloved by teammates and opponents alike. Even 20+ years after the peak of his playing career, their joy in recounting Bol's exploits is abundantly evident.

Conn's true triumph is in recounting Bol's exploits off the court. The title of the book - 'The Defender' - has two meanings: while ostensibly a nod to his court-clogging capabilities, it also pays tributes to his unstinting support of his homeland. He committed time and resources to improving education in southern Sudan and was instrumental in the long struggle to create what is now known as the Republic of South Sudan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best mini-portrait of Manute Bol out there August 18, 2011
By Zach
Format:Kindle Edition
I managed to read Henry Abbott's review of this e-book on ESPN, and Abbott nailed it: "Conn's painstaking work, based on extensive time in the Sudan, tells of a far more fascinating, important, likable and fallible human than NBA fans ever got a chance to know."
[...]

This was a fantastic read--the author obviously did his research on the ground in Sudan, and got more than a few great interviews it seems, judging from his sources. It is also very appropriate for novices on Sudanese politics and independence.

Giving this 5 stars was an easy decision.
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