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Open: An Autobiography Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 9, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Agassi has always had a tortured look in his eyes on the tennis court. In 1992, when he burst onto the world sports stage by winning the Grand Slam at Wimbledon, he looked like a deer in headlights. Nobody seemed more surprised and upset by his big win that day than he did. For good reason, too. Agassi hated tennis. This is the biggest revelation in his very revealing autobiography. Agassi has hated tennis from early childhood, finding it extremely lonely out on the court. But he didn’t have a choice about playing the game because his father drove him to become a champion, like it or not. Mike Agassi, a former Golden Gloves fighter who never made it professionally, decided that his son would become a champion tennis player. In militaristic fashion, Mike pushed seven-year-old Andre to practice relentlessly until the young boy was exhausted and in pain. He also arranged for Andre, age 13, to attend a tennis camp where he was expected to pull weeds and clean toilets. The culmination of all of this parental pushing came when Andre began winning as an adult. But it didn’t make him happy. Within this framework, Agassi’s other disclosures make sense. He had a troubled marriage to Brooke Shields that didn’t last. He developed a drug problem that sabotaged his career. He was insecure about everything. Only when Andre met tennis star Steffi Graf (whom he eventually married) did things begin to change. Readers will definitely cheer when Andre finally makes peace with the game he once hated and learns to enjoy it. --Jerry Eberle


“Insightful [and] exceedingly well-written . . . [Open] has the cadence and plotting of a good novel . . . The raw energy and emotion throughout are pure Agassi.”
            -Newsday Top 10 Books of 2009
“Surprisingly candid . . . The baseline bad boy serves up his harrowing anecdotes with the same force he put behind every on-court ace.”
            -Entertainment Weekly 10 Best Nonfiction Books of 2009
“Bracingly devoid of triumphalist homily, Agassi’s is one of the most passionately anti-sports books ever written by a superstar athlete.”
            -The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2009
“Andre Agassi’s memoir is just as entrancing as his tennis game . . . By sharing an unvarnished, at times inspiring story in an arresting, muscular style, Agassi may have just penned one of the best sports autobiographies of all time. Check—it’s one of the better memoirs out there, period.”
            -Sean Gregory, Time
“Not just a first-rate sports memoir but a genuine bildungsroman, darkly funny yet also anguished and soulful. It confirms what Agassi’s admirers sensed from the outset, that this showboat . . . was not clamoring for attention but rather conducting a struggle to wrest some semblance of selfhood from the sport that threatened to devour him.”
            -Sam Tanenhaus, The New York Times Book Review
“A remarkable and quite unexpected volume, one that sails well past its homiletic genre into the realm of literature, a memoir whose success clearly owes not a little to a reader’s surprise in discovering that a celebrity one may have presumed to know on the basis of that haircut and a few television commercials hawking cameras via the slogan ‘image is everything’ emerges as a man of parts—self-aware, black-humored, eloquent.”
            -Michael Kimmelman, The New York Review of Books
“[A] heartfelt memoir . . . Agassi’s style is open, all right, and his book, like so many of his tennis games, is a clear winner.”
            -O, The Oprah Magazine
Open describes [Agassi’s] personal odyssey with brio and unvarnished candor . . . His career-comeback tale is inspiring but even more so is another Open storyline. It could be called: The punk grows up . . . Countless athletes start charitable foundations, but frequently the organizations are just tax shelters or PR stunts. For Mr. Agassi helping others has instead become his life’s calling . . . Open is a superb memoir, but it hardly closes the books on an extraordinary life.”
            -Jay Winik, The Wall Street Journal
“It’s both astonishing and a pleasure to report that Andre Agassi . . . has produced an honest, substantive, insightful autobiography . . . The bulk of this extraordinary book vividly recounts a lost childhood, a Dickensian adolescence, and a chaotic struggle in adulthood to establish an identity . . . While not without excitement, Agassi’s comeback to No. 1 is less uplifting than his sheer survival, his emotional resilience, and his good humor in the face of the luckless cards he was often dealt.”
            -Michael Mewshaw, Washington Post
“Honest in a way that such books seldom are . . . An uncommonly well-written sports memoir.”
            -Charles McGrath, The New York Times
“Probably the most candid sports autobiography ever written . . . A remarkably real, tell-it-like-it-is, record-breaking read.”
            -Nancy Isenberg, The [Baton Rouge] Advocate
“Agassi weaves a fascinating tale of professional tennis and personal adversity . . . His tale shows that success is measured both on and off the court.”
            -Doree Shafrir, New York Post
 “Refreshingly candid . . . This lively, revealing, and entertaining book is certain to roil the tennis world and make a big splash beyond.”
            -Publishers Weekly
“Enigmatic tennis great Agassi lays it all on the line . . . Agassi’s photographic recall of pivotal matches evokes the raw intensity of watching them from the stands. Lovers of the sport will also appreciate this window into the mind of a champion . . . An ace of a tale about how one man found his game.”


This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (November 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307268195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307268198
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,477 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

458 of 482 people found the following review helpful By 98-40-31 on November 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So you're thinking this might be one of those recently retired famous people books aren't you? One where a celebrity, or a Politician, or a sports star cranks out hundreds of pages of self-serving, history-correcting drivel in order to cash the big advance check. A book you can't even bring yourself to finish; better than a tranquilizer at bedtime.

Well, this is certainly not that book. "Open" is a journey that I predict will stay with you for a very long time. It's a completely unexpected trip to places you've never been. I'm not one of those quasi-professional reviewers you see on Amazon. But this book practically made me write about it.

Interestingly, Open starts not at the beginning and not quite at the end. Second round, US Open, 2006.

Not the final match of Andre's career--but the one right before that.
Against a competitor you'd never heard of before or since.
The battle was against the guy across the net, and also Andre's hatred of tennis, his failing body, the demons that he harnessed to get through the unending heroic contest that seemed destined to continue until both just fell into a heap on the court. And it is so well told.

After 20 pages, I knew that this was unlike any other biography I had ever read. Couldn't put it down. Couldn't stop thinking about it. Agassi dug deeper inside than most of us ever will have to, to get to core of what made him so powerful as a player and so conflicted as a person. It is all conspicuously real: The small moments, the outlandish triumphs and the friendships that sustained him and/or corrupted him. The gauntlet he had to run through to arrive at the balance and joy he has today. It's transformative.
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100 of 108 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Andre Agassi has written a 'tell-all' book about his life in tennis. And, it turns out, he hated tennis. That was a bigger shocker to me than the salacious fact that he was on 'crystal meth'for a period of time. J.R. Moehringer, the author of 'A Tender Bar' and a Pulitzer Prize winner for his writing was a co-author of this autobiography. Andre loved Moehringer's writing in 'The Tender Bar', and he is correct, the man's writing and the book are excellent. This book, too, is very well written and is an exceptional read.

Andre tells us that he started playing tennis at the age of 3 and by the age of 5 he was showing an aptitude for the game. He was pushed by his father-an obsessive man who pushed his son too far and too much. In fact his father felt that education was not necessary and a hindrance to his tennis practice. Andre could never tell his father how much he hated the game because it was Andre's responsibility to help his family, and that is what he did. He left school in the ninth grade, something that has bothered him his entire career. His goal was to achieve in tennis. He was enrolled in the Bollettien tennis camp, but it felt more like a prison than a camp. The academy, in Agassi's words, was "Lord of the Flies with forehands." In retaliation Andre started wearing earrings, grew his hair long and wore loud clothes. Thus his reputation was born. As his career started to flourish, Andre, tried to keep it all together. He was known as the flamboyant player, the real player. He played the best tennis players in the world, and he was one of the best. He had an eye for the ball, and the 'tell' of players when they were about to hit the big one.
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94 of 103 people found the following review helpful By A. Velautham on November 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
We have all read the press and watched the news; the drug allegations, the "I hate tennis". Tennis fans aren't quite sure whether they should feel cheated for all the love and support they have given Andre, to me the book set things straight.

Most of us look back at chapters of our lives and can identify with particularly unhappy periods. Andre kicks off the book with what was going through his head with the match against Baghdatis in the 2006 US Open. It is a blow by blow account of key parts of the match and a thought provoking glimpse into the mind and heart of a tennis player. He then goes straight into his childhood, the discomfort and unhappiness of being the child prodigy son of an obsessive father. There are weirdly honest stories - his grandmother tried to breastfeed him, very disturbing but a revelation of a dysfunctional upbringing. What seems to carry Andre through his childhood are friendships with his brother Phil and Perry who later becomes his manager. The importance of the childhood friendships are critical and from the way they are explained it is easy to understand why these friends are crucial figures for Andre.

The critical friendship is that of his mentor/guide/life coach/surrogate father Gill Reyes. Andre is taken under his wing and treated with the love and respect a father should treat his son, you sense through the stories in the book that now they have met each other neither could really exist happily without the other. His marriage with Brooke Shields is dealt with candidly, many will buy this book to find out what celebrities do behind closed doors. Whereas I did think Brooke appeared superficial from some of the things mentioned here, I think it merely shows how fame affects people differently.
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