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Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin' in Flip-Flops and the Philippines' Unlikely Love Affair with Basketball Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Hardcover (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451229991
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451229991
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #509,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Wonderfully written and conceived: a white man walks the earth with a basketball and discovers a society so colorful it almost sounds make-believe. This book is more than a front row seat to a body-twisting, triple-clutching, no-look passing basketball world in flip-flops. It humanizes a nation and reclaims the innocence of a sport that has been swallowed whole by stereotypes and clever marketing schemes."
-James McBride, author, Miracle at St. Anna, The Color of Water, and Song Yet Sung

"This is the kind of book that makes you proud to be a sportswriter, for at its best, sportswriting informs, entertains and educates, like all great writing. Rafe Bartholomew, the young, 6-3 'giant American' in the land of the Lilliputian-but-basketball-mad, turns the Philippines into a hoops carnival, teaching us as much about this complex nation as any history book. I learned, I laughed (I mean, out-loud, splatter-the-page hilarity), I loved it all. Pacific Rims is nothing but a joy."
-Rick Telander, Senior Sports Columnist, Chicago Sun-Times, author, Heaven Is a Playground

"Rafe Bartholomew's Pacific Rims is a rollicking good time, a kind of gonzo basketball journey filled with laughs and pathos. Who would've thought the Philippines was so hoops obsessed. What a cast of eccentric characters. Just hearing the tales of players like Billy Ray Bates - an American import known in his day as the Black Superman - makes this a ride worth taking."
-Alex Kotlowitz, author, There Are No Children Here and The Other Side of the River

"Rafe Bartholomew traveled to the Philippines to better understand a country that loved basketball as much as he did. What's resulted is a book as varied and unique as the hoops tradition he found there, a dizzying mish-mash of social history, personal narrative, and rock-solid sports journalism. As raw with emotion as it is informative, Pacific Rims can make you both laugh out loud and tear up-sometimes in the span of a single sentence."
-Bethlehem Shoals, author, FreeDarko Presents: The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Rafe Bartholomew is an assistant editor at Harper's magazine. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Seattle Weekly, Detroit Free Press, and The Best American Sports Writing 2007. He currently lives in New York. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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It's a great read for any fan of basketball.
M.B.
Very enjoyable book - Rafe does a great job describing the history of Philippine basketball and how crazy Filipinos are about the sport in general.
Marlon D.
Glad to find an entertaining and timely book on the Philippines!
whirled traveler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Vic I. on June 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a basketball fan, an avid reader of sports journalism, and a Filipino. So I had high expectations for this book, and was not disappointed. It manages to be both scholarly and sidesplittingly funny at the same time.

Just like Jack McCallum's "Seven Seconds or Less", the author spends an entire season as an embedded journalist with a local professional ball club. However he alternates his fly-on-the-wall reportage of practices and player hijinks with well-researched chapters on past Pinoy sports heroes, defunct leagues, and the country's culture in general.

I noow realize that it takes an outsider's point of view to really put the bizarre yet wonderful world of Pinoy ball into perspective.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Nate C-K on January 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Overtly, this book is two stories spun into a single narrative:

- A general overview of the culture of basketball in the Philippines.
- The story of a single season ("conference") where the author follows a pro basketball team, the Alaska Aces, through their successes and struggles on and off the court.

However, perhaps the most important story in the book is that of a young man experiencing a new culture that he knew very little about before he arrived. The author arrives looking for something familiar, basketball, and through it discovers and attempts to explain much that is unfamiliar. The reader is taken along on this journey as well, and it's a lot of fun.

I myself have been to the Philippines several times, and I picked this book up at an airport bookstore in Manila. Even though I already knew a great deal about the country, I was pleased to learn tons of things that I didn't know before. Filipinos will probably also learn plenty, and even if they don't they will enjoy the author's perspective their culture.

You could undoubtedly write a much more comprehensive book about basketball in the Philippines than this one. The author makes a good effort to research the history of the sport there, but the brevity of his experience limits how much of an insider perspective he could really gain. Furthermore, his account of the present-day league lacks objectivity because he has become very close to the particular team that he covered. However, this does not negatively affect the book at all: it never pretends to give an objective appraisal of the league from a neutral point of view, but rather gives itself wholeheartedly to conveying a fan's sense of love for the game. This love rubs off on you as you read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Churma on June 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written. A very good read. This book should have been written long ago. It brought back memories of living, working and playing a whole lot of ball in the Philippines long ago.

The author captures the Filipinos' passion for the National Sport from barrio to big city and provides insight into this often misunderstood country as a Westerner immersed in the culture. Language and cuisine are important.

An Index (Personal Names, at the least) and a Bibliography would have been useful, but that just may be the librarian bias in me.

Thomas Churma
Kalamansi Books
[...]
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By whirled traveler on June 22, 2010
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Glad to find an entertaining and timely book on the Philippines! If you're interested in the Philippines or basketball, then this is definitely a book for you. Well resarched and detailed study of hoops past and present in the basketball-crazed country of the Philippines, with some (very) extended play-by-play action following a pro team's season, (in the manner of Halberstam's Breaks of the Game). The added stories and asides of the author's life as an American expat in the Philippines is what really brings the story to life. Good book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gin (New England, USA) on October 21, 2011
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A really brilliant author, a simple quest about basketball can unearth a nation's history, culture, politics, economics, even showbusiness and everything and anything in between. Well written, informative and enjoyable read even for non-basketball enthusiasts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 6, 2010
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This book is thoroughly enjoyable and it tackles a subject that has received little or no attention, in this particular case, that of the love affair with Basketball the Philippines seem to enjoy. Rafe Bartholomew does a very good job taking you into this world, trying to find out how it began and how it has impacted the culture. There is however, one point of contention that annoyed me a bit.

The annoyance comes over a disagreement over if the Philippine Basketball Association is actually the oldest pro league after the NBA. This annoyed me at first, but was later informed that it was technically true, as most of the pro leagues in Europe that predated the PBA declared a bogus "amateur" status in order to keep sending players to FIBA sponsored tournaments like the world championship, Eurobasket, and the Olympics. This claim of the PBA's seniority is consistent in the book, and thus if you are a fan of Euroleague basketball you might find it disagreeable (despite it being technically true). But since this is a book about basketball in the Phillipines, don't let a minor nerd spat over who was pro first discourage you from reading a great sports book.

Mr. Bartholomew not only completely immersed himself in the culture of Filipino basketball, but also of just everyday life. This is one of those books that in the search of something small, a bigger picture is found; a better understanding of overall Filipino culture, with all of it's complexity, beauty, color, and sometime horrible social contradictions. By not only telling you how Filipinos play ball, but also how they eat, how they have fun or his recounting of his personally harrowing (yet hilarious) experience playing a despicable character in Filipino soap opera, Rafe Bartholomew finds a bigger truth than the one he set out to seek.

The book touches all of these without ever neglecting it's main purpose, exploring basketball in this island nation. A great read if you are a sports fan.
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