From Publishers Weekly
This first nonfiction effort by Frost, who is a novelist (The List of Seven), television producer (Twin Peaks) and scriptwriter (Hill Street Blues), deftly tells the story behind the legendary 1913 U.S. Open, in which Francis Ouimet, a 20-year-old golf amateur from Massachusetts, shocked the genteel golf world by defeating British champion Harry Vardon, the most famous pro golfer of his time and the inventor of what today is still considered the modern grip and swing. Frost knows he has a good story and manages to touch on all the right elements of the plot: Ouimet and Vardon not only represent two different social worlds and two different generations, but also share a number of key personal facts and traits. Ouimet was "the boy-next-door amateur, young and modest and free from affectation," while Vardon was the consummate professional whose record of six British Open victories has never been matched. Yet Frost superbly shows how both shared a steely drive to succeed that helped Vardon overcome a long bout with tuberculosis and Ouimet to overcome a working-class background in which golf was seen (especially by his father) as a wealthy man's game, the perfect example of the evils of capitalism. Frost beautifully weaves history into his narrative, clearly showing the long-term impact this duel had on the game and how it helped propel the U.S. Open into the arena of world-class golf. Frost's final chapters on the last two rounds of the 1913 Open have all the page-turning excitement of a blockbuster novel.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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*Starred Review* The story of Francis Ouimet, the first amateur to win the U.S. Open golf tournament, is just too good to be true: it's Rocky
without the sequels, it's Jack without his beanstalk, it's Tiger without Nike. But it's true, and as told by veteran thriller writer Frost, it's the most compelling sports book since Laura Hillenbrand's best-selling Seabiscuit
. Born in 1893, Ouimet grew up poor, directly across the street from The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, where Boston's blue bloods tried their hands at the new sport of golf. The game caught young Francis in its grip, and despite his father's disapproval, he became a caddie at the club and taught himself to play. Frost jumps between Ouimet's story and the surprisingly similar saga of British champion Harry Vardon, who was also born poor and contended with a disapproving father. Frost builds his characters--not just Ouimet and Vardon but also Francis' caddy, 10-year-old Eddie Lowery--with the skill of a novelist (occasionally but believably using invented dialogue). The climax of the narrative--the recounting of the 1913 U.S. Open at Brookline, where the unheralded, 20-year-old Ouimet beat both his idol Vardon and the other reigning British professional, Ted Ray--is genuinely exciting, a marvelous re-creation of a signature moment in golf history. Underdog stories have become among the sappiest cliches in pop-culture's arsenal, but this one reminds us why they worked in the first place. Bill OttCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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