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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memorable moments and unforgettable people during a ten-book journey...thus far...featured in an eleventh book
Memorable moments and unforgettable people during a ten-book journey...thus far...featured in an eleventh book

Others have their reasons for holding this book in high regard. Here are three of mine. First, with all due respect to the celebrities in sports with whom John Feinstein has been directly associated (e.g. Bob Knight, Mike Krzyzewski, John McEnroe,...
Published on January 4, 2012 by Robert Morris

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97 of 106 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Great Sports; But, Lacking Insights and Critical Examination
A long-time John Feinstein fan, I eagerly awaited "One-on-One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game," especially after hearing the author interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air" last week. He told some fascinating stories about McEnroe, Woods, Capriati and others that we ordinary folks can't glean from the mainstream media. Such intimate telling, one could hope, would...
Published on December 5, 2011 by Peter Hillman


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97 of 106 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Great Sports; But, Lacking Insights and Critical Examination, December 5, 2011
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A long-time John Feinstein fan, I eagerly awaited "One-on-One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game," especially after hearing the author interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air" last week. He told some fascinating stories about McEnroe, Woods, Capriati and others that we ordinary folks can't glean from the mainstream media. Such intimate telling, one could hope, would let us in on what makes some of our sports greats tick; and, what they, and Feinstein, think of the outsized roles they and their sports have come to play in our society.

This, sadly, is not that book. The title is a complete misnomer.

This book, rather, as Feinstein states clearly in his Introduction, is "a trip through reporting my first ten books, bringing me--and the reader--up to the present day." What's more, although the author adds: "This isn't meant to be a memoir," to this reader, the book most definitely has the pace, tone, look, structure and content of a memoir. There is very little "one-on-one behind the scenes," and hardly any that reveals something more interesting than what kind of tennis racquet someone used, or how nobly Bill Buckner owned up to an error.

Taking the book as the memoir it really is (and a very shallow one at that), other Feinstein fans surely will enjoy reading recaps of the author's long and up-and-down relationship with his "mentor," Bobby Knight, leading to the break-through book "A Season on the Brink"; his encounters with other great college basketball coaches; his passion for professional tennis and golf (also resulting in splendid books); his experience reporting on Army-Navy. I found his chapter on his coming-of-age, soaking in the old Forest Hills tennis atmosphere and the entire New York sports scene of the 60's and 70's, very helpful in understanding Feinstein's transformation. The vignette of one of his early bosses at the Washington Post, Bob Woodward, saying of Feinstein's talent: "Don't blow it on sports," is beautiful!

But what's missing, in my view, is any sustained and meaningful, critical examination, of (1) what in Feinstein's view makes his favorite sports figures tick; and (2) what they, and the author, think of their work and accomplishments in a broader societal setting. In this regard, the book exists in a sort of vacuum. Decades go by but rarely does Feinstein critically appraise, let alone acknowledge, how all of the sports have evolved so radically. We read a lot about how much Feinstein ended up being paid for his first book or by the Post but there is hardly anything noted by anyone about the outrageous sums of money in pro sports. Drug testing, drug problems? None suggested here. Nothing about the sometimes-disturbing aspects of our sports. Lacking in any real perspective, the book struck me as a real ho-hum travelogue through events already well-delivered by the author. Unfortunately, the "Greats" in the games remain one-dimensional.

Which is not to suggest that there aren't some really fine parts. Portrayals of Ivan Lendl, Steve Kerr, Mary Carillo and David Duval struck me as insightful, honest "behind the scenes" looks and appraisals--as the title promised. More often than not, however, Feinstein believes the reader will be content just to have stock scenes and very conventional and unrevealing portraits.

Which in my mind is really a shame, given how ubiquitous and prolific Feinstein has been the past 25 years. Hopefully, now that he has gotten a rather self-absorbed memoir out of his system, he can focus on producing the great insightful "one-on-one behind the scenes" book he surely has within him.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memorable moments and unforgettable people during a ten-book journey...thus far...featured in an eleventh book, January 4, 2012
Memorable moments and unforgettable people during a ten-book journey...thus far...featured in an eleventh book

Others have their reasons for holding this book in high regard. Here are three of mine. First, with all due respect to the celebrities in sports with whom John Feinstein has been directly associated (e.g. Bob Knight, Mike Krzyzewski, John McEnroe, Arnold Palmer, Dean Smith, and Tiger Woods), I enjoyed even more being introduced to others who offer unique insights into the sub texture of "the thrill of victory ...and the agony of defeat," a tag line associated with the ABC's Wide World of Sports program on television (1961-1998). They include Steve Alford, Damon Bailey, Jim Cantelupe, Steve Kerr, Christina and Derek Klein, Esther Newberg, George Solomon, and Ted Tinling. For reasons best revealed in the book, each is a major contributor to Feinstein's personal growth and professional development.

Also, I really appreciate sharing Feinstein's perspectives on what he enjoys most (and least) about his career in sports journalism thus far, especially his take on what it is like to have access to so many major events, scrambling to make both domestic and international travel connections, and coping with hamster-brained "officials" who deny access (i.e. handlers, gatekeepers, security guards). What did he learn (and from whom did he learn it) about how to manage the logistics of travel, access, accommodations, food, rest and relaxation, and aspects of extensive travel?

Finally, there are his thorny relationships with various people, notably with Bob Knight, but also with Jim Courier, Rick Pitino, Bobby Valentine, Jim Valvano, and Tiger Woods. Eventually, he seems to have achieved mutual (albeit somewhat grudging) respect with each. Knowing only what Feinstein shares about these relationships, I have only his point-of-view but he seems to make an effort to portray both sides of the given disagreements, misunderstandings, and accusations. There are other, less volatile relationships that Feinstein especially enjoys, such as those with his Washington Post colleague, Bob Woodward, as well as with Bud Collins, Sally Jenkins, Ivan Lendl, Jeff Neuman, and David Robinson.

My personal co-favorites among Feinstein's ten previous books are Civil War and Let Me Tell You a Story but he will probably be best-remembered for Season on the Brink. All are first-rate. Hopefully, he will publish several more books in years to come and then another One on One.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from Feinstein, December 14, 2011
I don't know of a writer who has been on the scene at more major sporting events than John Feinstein -- Final Fours, World Series, Wimbledons, U.S. Opens (tennis and golf), and many more. "One on One" takes us back through 25 years of encounters with the biggest names in sports, and it's an amazing journey.

Of course, names are "dropped." Would you expect him to leave out all the interesting people? Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe, and the rest each changed his or her sport in some way -- good or bad -- and Feinstein's encounters with them make for a great read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but also misleading, February 17, 2012
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As a long-time John Feinstein fan, I was really looking forward to reading this book. However, I found the title to be a bit of a misnomer. There was very little sitting down "one on one" with any greats, and a lot of the interviews were simple rehashed stories. Now, there were some new stories as well, which were good, but on the whole, I felt like he drifted a bit from the purpose of the book. He seemed to make too may stories about him, which was annoying.

I have read every one of Feinstein's books, and I absolutely loved them all. Very insightful, you could tell how much work he put into the interviews, etc. Having said that, I feel like I walked away from One on One with very little new information. Now, when he was describing his research on the Majors, his '99 book, he was talking about how he was scheduled to sit and interview Tiger, and as I was reading this, I though, "hmmm, I remember Tiger was hardly mentioned in that book, and I always wondered why." Then he proceeded to tell the backstory in One on One, about how Tiger couldn't forgive JF for writing many bad things about his Father in the past, and it was nice, fresh information. The backstory on A Season on the Brink was also very insightful; how it came to pass, the fallout with Knight in the intervening 25 years, it was a fascinating story.

But sadly, these are few and far between. Too many rehashed interviews, it was almost as if he couldn't figure out what to do for his next book, so he just threw this together. Yes, there were untold interviews with Payne Stewart, Ivan Lendl (did anyone honestly care about the tennis portion? It's beyond a dead sport) etc, but they weren't all that interesting. I will say that the last 80 or so pages did a good job catching up with Damon Bailey, some of the good characters from The Last Amateurs, and the guys from A Civil War, but these were hardly the greats in the game! And therein lies the problem with this book; when he did actually sit down for new interviews, they were hardly with Legends. It was too memoir-ish, with huge bouts of name-dropping, and he had too many stories where it seemed to be all about him.

The story about being stuck in Yugoslavia, going to see the mother of the recently defected hockey player, had no place in this book. What the heck did that have to do with the theme he was trying to stick with? Yeah, it was slightly interesting that he almost got arrested, but in the end, it was much ado about nothing. To me, this book should have been titled "My Adventures in Sportswriting." At least then the book would have followed the path set forth by the title. It also bothered me that he barely spent any time on certain books, like A March to Madness, which is, in my opinion, his best book. Having said that, it was still a good book, and I read it in under a day, but I felt like I had already read a lot of it, having read all of his other books. For all the other JF fans out there, if you read this book and didn't find it to be a repeat, then you either didn't read his 1st 10 books, or you forgot what they said after all these years and thus found this one to be fresh.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Storyteller, January 10, 2012
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I thoroughly enjoyed Finestein's latest. He is a master at telling a good story. Plenty of "behind the scenes" stories about Bobby Knight, Coach K and Tiger Woods. I would recommend this book to any sports fan.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the price, January 7, 2012
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This book has more to do with Feinstein's ego than the athletes. He makes himself to much a part of the story, and he is a reporter, not a participant.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love sports, you'll love this book, December 19, 2011
What a fun read! These are those "untold" stories from Feinstein's previous books. As he mentions in the intro, these are the stories he didn't tell before because he was a part of them. It reads like part-memoir, and part up close and personal with some of the biggest names in sports. I felt like I got to know some of this big names in a different way through this book. Which is exactly what I had hoped for. I've read it and now am giving several as holiday presents!

I saw how others accuse him of "name-dropping" but I don't understand why they're saying that. These are stories of the author interacting with these famous names from the world of sport... he was actually there are part of these stories! It's entertaining and well-written. I highly recommend it.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your money, June 8, 2012
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I have heard John f on the radio, and have found his analysis insightful so was looking forward to this book. I was expecting some behind the scenes detail about the greats he's interviewed, but instead this is really a self aggrandizing memoir of johns life. What's worse, he even puts down the very people who provided access to him over the years, as he repeatededly refers to the time he " blew off coach k.". He even manages to reference his exploits as an accomplished swimmer to imply he is in some way on par with professional athletes. This book is a huge disappointment and somewhat desperate.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the right reader, Feinstein at his best, January 3, 2012
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As I looked at the handful of "one star" reviews for John Feinstein's latest, one simple thought came to mind: "There's no accounting for taste." Sadly, Amazon actually ALLOWS people who too quickly and without justification mash the 'one star' button simply because a particular book Wasn't What They Were Expecting. In my mind, these lazy and uninformed sots should have no access to a review site as their overreactions will certainly drag down those of us who are vastly more thoughtful.

Having said that, I will state that this work may not be for everybody. If you: haven't read anything from Feinstein, prefer your sports heroes on a pedestal, are allergic to honestly or you simply think that Feinstein -- whether in writing or on radio/TV is just a tad acerbic and full of himself, then by all means please shy away and find yourself an easier-to-take "sports book."

Going in, you should know how this book came about. As he clearly explains up front, Feinstein goes back to re-visit the subjects who played a major role in his first ten books. There's a good deal of "how the book happened" as Feinstein let's us in on negotiations not only with editors and publishers but the athletes, coaches and schools themselves. Names include Bob Knight, Jack Nicklaus, John McEnroe, Deion Sanders, Mike Krzyzewski, Tiger Woods, Bob Woodward, Dean Smith, Arnold Palmer, Ivan Lendl, Steve Kerr and dozens more. Know also that Feinstein is writing in the FIRST PERSON and he's delighted to tell us of his various interactions -- good and bad -- with all of these people so if you believe that a writer (even when writing about HIMSELF) should remain Invisible... well, get ready to grit your teeth. More than anything else, I enjoyed how Feinstein's personal prickliness shows through; while possessing an ego that results in a certain sense of self-importance, the result is an enjoyable series of confrontations with major sports figures, imperious security guards, devious agents and certain Czech KGB officials that can't help but place the reader not only within earshot but often so close that you find yourself saying, "I wish I had said that!"

Feinstein's insistence on honesty from his subjects has certainly rubbed more than a few folks along the way and this certainly will include readers who prefer to believe that sports in our day is a land of the pure, an oasis of milk and honey rising above the tawdry landscape. Listen, however, to a writer who -- for more than 25 years -- has been in the thick of it and you'll quickly realize that for all the entertainment and excitement sports provides us (as well as the lessons we can learn from competing, winning and losing) that the sports industry is still run by imperfect humans, many with greater flaws than we want to believe. "One On One" is simply outstanding; tales told with no concern for the potential repercussions, stories that will have you shaking your head. Great, great stuff -- for the right reader.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor Title, July 24, 2012
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This book would have been more accurately titled "One on One with the Author." if you want to read an account of Mr. Feinstein's career, this is the book for you.
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One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game
One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game by John Feinstein (Paperback - December 4, 2012)
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