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Moving the Chains: Tom Brady and the Pursuit of Everything Hardcover – October 31, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pierce offers a genial look at the unlikely rise of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady from embattled Michigan player through draft afterthought to multiple Super Bowl MVP. But while the book might seem late considering the Patriots won their third Super Bowl in four years in 2004, it actually benefits from Pierce using the team's trying 2005 season as a backdrop against which to highlight his main argument: that Brady's intangible abilities as a leader under any circumstances are worth far more than what can be measured with a stopwatch. In addition to stories from Brady's coaches and teammates that bear out this assessment, journalist Pierce serves up some entertaining prose. He describes the bombastic NFL as "less like family entertainment and more and more like the strategy... used to pry Manuel Noriega out of Panama," and skewers Gov. William Weld of Massachusetts as "so flighty that he made Mayor McCheese look like Benjamin Disraeli." In all, it's a buoyant if blindly reverential account that's sure to appeal to anyone with more than a passing interest in one of the game's most celebrated players. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

It's hard to believe that Tom Brady, New England Patriots quarterback and three-time Super Bowl winner, only entered the NFL in 2000. In fact, he was a sixth-round draft choice, selected by the then-lowly Patriots, who were unable to draw enough fans to finance a new stadium. Cut to 2005 and the emergence of a new dynasty: Brady is a superstar, appearing on magazine covers and Saturday Night Live, and Gillette Stadium has been erected in the Boston burbs as home turf for the juggernaut Patriots. Pierce, on staff at the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine and a frequent NPR commentator, is a true fan of Brady, both as a football player and as a man. On-the-field action peppers his account, but the real subject here is Brady himself--how did a young man who almost became a priest transform himself into the NFL quarterback who has achieved the most at the earliest age? Pierce converts what might have been just another sports bio into an engaging character study. For all sports collections. Mary Frances Wilkens
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (October 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374299234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374299231
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,276,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles P. Pierce is a writer at large for Esquire, where he also writea a daily on-line political blog, and is a staff writer for the on-line sports magazine Grantland.

He was born December 28, 1953 in Worcester, MA. Six months earlier, his mother hid in the basement as a massive tornado leveled his future hometown of Shrewsbury, MA The effect of prenatal imprinting is still being debated in medical circles, but a connection does not seem implausible.

He is a 1975 graduate of Marquette University, where he majored in journalism and brewery tours. He was delighted to combine his vocation and his avocation once again when he returned to Milwaukee to cover the trial of Jeffrey Dahmer.

He attended graduate school at Boston College for two days. He is a former forest ranger for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and still ponders the question of what possesses people to go into the woods and throw disposable diapers up into trees.

He began his journalism career writing bowling agate for the Milwaukee papers, and remains justly proud of his ability to spell multi-syllabic, vowel-free Eastern European names. He has written for the alternative press, including Worcester Magazine and the Boston Phoenix, and was a sports columnist for The Boston Herald. He was a feature writer and columnist for the late, lamented sports daily, The National. He has been a writer-at-large for a men's fashion magazine, and his work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the LA Times Magazine, the Nation, the Atlantic and The Chicago Tribune, among others. Although he is no longer a contributor, he remains a devoted reader. He is a frequent contributor to to Eric Alterman's Altercation, the American Prospect and Slate. Charlie appears weekly on National Public Radio's sports program Only A Game and The Srephanie Miller Show, and is a regular panelist on NPR's game show, Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me. Since July 1997 he has been a writer at large at Esquire, covering everything from John McCain to the Hubble telescope, with more than a few shooting stars thrown in between. From 2002 to 2011 he was a Boston Globe Sunday Magazine staff writer and columnist, where he wrote political and general interest features as well as "Pierced, a weekly column.

Charles Pierce is the recipient of numerous professional awards and honors. On several occasions, he was named a finalist for the Associated Press Sports Editor's award for best column writing, and it has been suggested that if only he would wear a tie, they might have let him win. He was a 1996 National Magazine Award finalist for his piece on Alzheimer's disease "In the Country of My Disease," and has expanded the piece into a book Hard to Forget: An Alzheimer's Story for Random House. In 2004, he won a National Headliners Award for his Globe Magazine piece, "Deconstructing Ted". Depending on which year this is, Charlie Pierce has appeared in Best American Sportswriting more times than any other writer, or has tied with Roger Angell for most appearances in Best American Sportswriting, or is sulking in second place and plotting to regain the top spot soon, or has fallen plumb off the court. Charlie's sportswriting has been anthologized in Sports Guy: In Search of Corkball, Warroad Hockey, Hooters Golf, Tiger Woods, and the Big, Big Game. He was awarded third place in the PBWAA Dan S. Blumenthal Memorial Writing Contest. When he won Phone Jeopardy, Alex Trebek sent him a plaque.

Charles Pierce lives in metro Boston with at least some of his three children all of the time, the rusted remains of a malfunctioning Toro lawnmower and his extremely long-suffering wife.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By GHT on November 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
And Charles Pierce says there is not much "I" in Tom Brady either.

In a professional sport with salary parity, logic says that it must be the Pats teamwork that sets them ahead. Bill Bellicheck, based on results, is the best coach in football, and Tom Brady is his team's QB. There are many great head coach - QB pairings in NFL history - Lombardi and Starr, Landry and Staubach, Walsh and Montana among them, and Bellicheck and Brady - despite their relatively brief history together - are now also inextricably linked, 3 championships in 4 years will do that.

Bellicheck figured out long ago that a football game is not about scoring touchdowns - it is about having more points on the board at the end of the game than the other team. He had the best kicker in football in Adam Vinateri, and in Brady has a QB that knows how to move the chains. When the Pats are playing their game, and they usually are, there is an efficiency to their execution, football the way it is meant to be played. Brady seems to stay within his limits of himself and his team while still pushing himself and them.

Sports as life metaphor books rarely work for me, but having read some of Pierce's magazine pieces previously, I was intrigued when I saw the book - and not at all disappointed. Not all sportswriters are writers, but Charles Pierce is. Instead of a fluff PR piece, we get a book about faith, character, family, team, and the human community - if all you want are the stats and the records, use the Google on the internets.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By L. Jackson on November 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
What Pierce does in Moving the Chains is reveal the heart and soul of football by examining football's consummate team player, Tom Brady. Brady may not be the most talented current quarterback (Peyton Manning gets that honor), or the flashiest (Michael Vick gets that one), or most beloved (that might go to Brett Favre), but on any given Sunday in the post season he'd be the quarterback you'd want leading your team down the field. Pierce does an excellent job examining why this is the case: why on a Sunday in January you'd want Brady, the no-name quarterback from Michigan, leading your team down the field.

In the context of the ups and downs of the injury-plagued '05 season, Pierce dissects Tom Brady. Pierce examines the games and talks with teammates to highlight Brady's strengths and weakness. Pierce interviews old coaches, friends and family to understand how Brady's work ethic and style were formed. Pierce shows us how these early foundations have grown to make Brady the team player --and more importantly, team leader --who can lead a struggling team to the playoffs.

Pierce looks at football through a broad lens, bringing up interesting cultural and philosophical points that make this more than just another sports book. He understands that football is played in a larger cultural context and that one bleeds into another. He also knows that leadership and greatness in one area can exemplify leadership and greatness in others. With Pierce's style and awareness it is easy to extrapolate his observations of leadership in this book to other areas. This book gave me both a better understanding of the game of football and a better understanding of what it takes to lead.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Fan of Eddie G. on January 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I like Tom Brady. I like the Patriots. I like Charlie Pierce. I hated this book. Mr. Pierce is a good sportswriter and a delightful panelist on the NPR news quiz show "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," yet he hits a very sour note with this book. The problem, as other reviewers have mentioned, is that the book reads like it was written on the fly with minimal editorial input. Mr. Pierce casts such a rosy glow on Tom Brady and his family, it quickly becomes cloying. I'm sure that they're all fine people, but we're talking about a football player, not the second coming of the Messiah.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey D. Wright on January 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Being a staunch Patriots fan, this book seemed like a must read. I was a bit disapointed at the start. I felt it was "over descriptive" and seemed to attempt to be a literary masterpiece, when all I really wanted was a biography of Tom Brady. Pierce's choice of words when setting up the book seemed like I was in AP english again.

I can say though once your past the setup chapter and the chapters on Tom's father's relgious influences, it gets into the guts of football, Patriots and Brady history, which is what I wanted all along.

Information is genuine, book is solid, I'd say B+ due to the tough start.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. White on July 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
No nice way to put it . . . this book is a mess. It seems like either an early draft was sent to publishing by mistake or that no editor was used. This is absolutely the most poorly organized book I've ever read. There are unfinished thoughts, quotes, etc. It feels like the "writer" tripped walking down the hall on the way to the publisher and all the pages of the book flew into the air and the pages were shuffled back to together and printed as is.
Avoid this book at all costs.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By SSK on April 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some parts are interesting but for the most part not good. Too much fluff. Loaded with irrelevant facts and connections. If you are a New England fan, then buy Halberstam's book on the coach.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Baker VINE VOICE on March 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is undoubtedly one of the oddest biographies I have ever read. And one of the most intriguing.
Author Charles Pierce tries to uncover what makes Tom Brady tic. What makes him such a consummate team player and leader on the field? What made a player drafted in the sixth round, whom nobody but maybe Bill Belichick and Scott Piloli, thought would ever amount to much in the pros, become a Hall of Fame bound quarterback, one of the best to have ever played?

There are a lot of things.

First, Brady was never the most gifted athlete and he had to work for everything through high school and college. In fact, he was barely recruited and his father put together a video package and he ultimately ended up at the University of Michigan. He persevered despite not even being a full time starter, even as a senior, despite that he was a winner.

Second, in the pros his work ethic is infectious to his teammates. He is the first to arrive and the last to leave. His hard work put him in a position to take over for Drew Bledsoe when he was hurt during the 2001 regular season and progress. He became the team leader that despite his talents Beldsoe never really was.

Third, he is a team first player. He truly buys in to the Patriots' modern day credo, there is no "I" in team. He doesn't care about stats, he cares about wins. But that has propelled him to put up unbelievable stats.
And he his simply a nice person. He gives credit where credit is due. He doesn't do a lot of endorsements. And when he had the opportunity to do one for a credit card company he refused to do it unless his offensive linemen, his protectors, were involved. He wanted them to shine to.
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