Dick Schaap, it seems, knows everyone. He would easily win at Six Degrees of Separation. Heck, he would win at Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. As a matter of fact, he probably golfs with Kevin Bacon. I wouldn't be surprised, since Schaap has golfed with Bill Clinton and played doubles tennis against Johnny Carson, and he regularly dines with Billy Crystal. Oh, and Muhammad Ali is one of his oldest friends. But Schaap is also a guy who remembers his teammates on the Freeport Barons (winners of the New York State Kiwanis League Championship '49 and '50) in fond and humorous detail. It is his true love for and fascination with people that make Flashing Before My Eyes such a delight to read.
Born in Brooklyn, Schaap was a smart kid with an outsized love for the Dodgers. By the age of 15 he was a sports reporter for the Nassau Daily Review-Star, where he worked under 20-year-old Jimmy Breslin, who became a lifelong friend. From there Schaap moved on to Cornell University and then to Newsweek, where he learned to write "short and tight. The end of the world? Give me eight hundred words. The end of the World Series. Maybe five hundred." With more than 50 years in journalism, over 30 books to his name, and five Emmys, there's no debating that Schaap is a storyteller extraordinaire. Page after page of Flashing Before My Eyes rolls by as you snort and chortle at Schaap's stories (and sometimes Schaap himself; he doesn't spare the pen), but then he slides in a moment that makes you tear up. Mitch Albom, who wrote the introduction, says of Schaap, "His cross-referencing would put Microsoft Access to shame. You can say to Dick, 'Pass the ketchup,' and he will reply, 'Did I ever tell you about Bobby 'Catch-Up' Johnson, the one-legged soccer player I met in Belgium?'" Schaap on sports, Schaap on comedy, Schaap on politics--these we've enjoyed for years. Now relish Schaap on Schaap. --Dana Van Nest
From Publishers Weekly
In a country obsessed with voyeurism, Schaap's book will find a receptive audience. Schaap (Turned On) fleshes out a chronology of his journalism career with endless yarns starring the last half-century's leading lights in sports, politics and the arts. From smoking a joint with Joe Namath to removing a strange animal from the leg of Bobby Kennedy's wife, Ethel, and taking in a World Series game with Lenny Bruce, Schaap's ubiquity ensures a surfeit of stories and, for that matter, ego. Schaap's strong presence introduces a strange underlying conflict: this purported autobiography is rife with stories about other people, told by a confessed egomaniac who insists that his characters come alive because he lays low. The result is a laissez-faire account whose anecdotes exceed their telling, and whose narrator never strays far from the foreground. Schaap can seem haughty, as when he describes his goal of writing a book each year: "I have come up short... only thirty-three books in the last thirty-nine years of the twentieth century." And though readers will tire of hearing that he was the youngest senior editor in the history of Newsweek, he undercuts his braggadocio by pointing it out himself: "Have I broken the record for name-dropping yet?" he jokes early on. Possibly. But the array of luminaries on Schaap's roster keeps him from sounding like a broken record. (Jan.)
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