Library Journal Review
This collection of great writings by Mark Twain, George Plimpton, and A. Bartlett Giamatti, to name but three, is the ideal addition to any library's general collection on Americana, sports, social studies, and, not least of all, baseball. If one knew nothing about this country, its history, and mores, one would be almost qualified for citizenship once these wonderful texts have been read, savored, and reread. From the emergence of the Davis Cup and musings (in 1938) about the future hold of television on sports and our lives to the assault on racism in sport and society, not to mention the grip of a sports team on small-town life, this collection is superior in every aspect. On baseball, we move from the bleachers of Wrigley to the role of a sports hero in overcoming bereavement to Branch Rickey and Bernie Carbo.VERDICT This is sheer reading pleasure of a rare quality. Highly recommended for all sports fans.--Gilles Renaud, Cornwall, Ont.
Selectism, March 31st
In one sweep of the Harper's archive, Rules of the Game Rules of the Game: The Best Sports Writing From Harpers Magazine collects some of the most venerable voices of American writing in a single volume. Yes, they all talk sports. But, they do so in a way that touches the varied threads of American life, building larger societal issues - race, for example - as they tackle the games that amuse us all. The earliest of the essays (from 1903) finds James B. Connolly chatting about German ships. The bookend essay (chronologically speaking), by Lewis H. Lapham from 2008, address drug use in Major League Baseball.
The joy of Rules of the Game Rules of the Game: The Best Sports Writing From Harpers Magazine comes in part through the pacing of the essays. They are not divided by theme, there is no strong push to plod along year by year. Instead editors Matthew Stevenson and Michael Martin allow the pieces to flow naturally, providing snapshots of American history through the lens of sports. A personal favorite comes from Pete Axthelm, whose "The City Game" brings the basketball courts of New York City alive. The racial changes to the game are tackled, working to not to seperate but to hammer down the socio-economic concerns that root basketball in the urban American landscape.
Axthelm's essay is just one of many rich snap shots within Rules of the Game Rules of the Game: The Best Sports Writing From Harpers Magazine, a book which has enough depth to engage any reader regardless of sporting bend.
"One helluva team of writers has produced a book you'll be dipping into for years."--Jim Bouton, author of Ball Four
"Reading Rules of the Game is like getting a lesson in sports history from some of our finest writers while sipping an aperitif at the Algonquin Round Table. There is such a seamless bond between writer and sport, and Rules of the Game flows as smoothly as an Ali jab."--Ron Darling, Emmy Award-winning broadcaster
"Great sports writing is as much an American tradition as the games that are played on our fields and courts. This all-encompassing collection from some of the finest writers in the history of our nation (Mark Twain on hunting turkeys) brings to life great sporting moments both personal and transformative in scope. These writings from Harper's are a treasure to savor for all of us who love sports and the words that they inspire."---Hannah Storm, ESPN SportsCenter anchor