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People's History of Sports in the United States: 250 Years of Politics, Protest, People, and Play (New Press People's History) Paperback – September 15, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
In this enlightening book, sportswriter Dave Zirin debunks this myth, exposing the politics, business interests, and cultural forces that have shaped modern sports. Zirin traces the history of sports from the lacrosse-playing days of the Choctaw Indians all the way to the modern steroid scandals and the behind-the-scenes politics of the international Olympic Games. Throughout, he focuses on how race-related conflicts have helped to shape modern athletics.
The host of a popular blog called "The Edge of Sports" (edgeofsports.com) and a regular contributor to the L.A. Times and the Nation magazine, Zirin has an engaging style that will appeal to sports fans, history buffs, and anyone else who wants their eyes opened. The favorable reviews and high sales certainly suggest that this book will help reduce the myth of sports as apolitical. (See the publisher's website, newpress.com, for links to recent publicity, which includes a favorable plug in Time Magazine.) Author Jeff Chang promises that after reading this book "you'll never see sports the same way again"; author Jim Bouton (Ball Four) goes even further by predicting that this is "the opening shot in the battle to reclaim sports."
Not only is the book enlightening, it is also a fun read full of engaging stories that you can share with friends and family while you are waiting for the game to begin.Read more ›
At some level this is more of a counter narrative to the dominant reverence for sports and sporting figures in the United States. It takes aims at the ruling elite in sports and their shortsightedness. There is quite a lot about labor relations, race relations, and other assorted divisive issues. This is a relatively straightforward short introduction to the subject, but there is little here that gets below a surface discussion. There is considerable overlap with what is contained in this book and what Zirin has to say about these same subjects in other books that he has written, especially "Bad Sports" (2010) and "Welcome to the Terrordome" (2007).
This book is interesting, and certainly worth reading, but there are other issues that deserve serious consideration not covered here in any appropriate manner. These include subjects of class, ethnic identity, immigration, and the like. There is also considerably more to be delved into concerning the race and labor issues that Zirin does explore. As it is, this book is a useful introduction to a counter history of sports in America.
First, the good stuff. This is a fast-paced, well-researched book that hits on many of the highlights of the bygone American sports scene. Perhaps the best portions of the book focus on the now-faded sport of boxing. If you've ever heard the (terrible) joke about how the lower on the socio-economic ladder you go, the better the boxer you are, you will appreciate learning about the national political importance of figures such as Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali. We also see the painful evolution of the athlete as a political figure as Jackie Robinson struggles to be the stoic exemplar of patience when he wanted nothing more than to break noses or when Jesse Owens returns from the Berlin Olympics to an America that refused to give him a decent job, just because of his skin. If you need a reminder of how ugly American racism has been, the sections on the difficult integration of college sports teams bring it to you in full, vibrant nastiness.
Zirin does not limit his book to racial injustice - the book also provides a helpful reminder of the struggle women had to fight just to be able to play on the same field. Women's tennis plays a huge role, as Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova play tremendous roles in changing American attitudes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Yes, he leans left. And, yes the book gets a little sketchy toward the end. But it is still a treasure trove of good info about a lot of different sports people---many are my... Read morePublished 10 months ago by R.L.D.
Solid historical look at sports in America. Very well documented and is interesting to read front to back.Published 19 months ago by Joshua Pauselius
As the title suggests, this certainly follows in the footsteps of Howard Zinn. I can overlook liberal bias in areas, but some of the chapters became unreadable. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Amazon Customer
Another hit piece on athletes who don't share Zirin's personal political ideals to the T. Keep in mind this is the same Dave Zirin who claimed that Tebow wanted to set gays back... Read morePublished on April 29, 2014 by LazloKovacs
Zirin has educated me on the lives of athletes in America who have stood bravely against the tide of prejudice and greed. Read morePublished on April 5, 2014 by Jason
Dave Zirin always provides an interesting take on sports in America, and this book is no exception. I especially liked his chapters on the early years of baseball in America.Published on November 3, 2013 by Terry L. Cox
Great Book! To the point and a broad perspective on sports history. I would highly recommend this book. I have given it to several friends to read.Published on October 28, 2013 by Yak67