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Second Wind: The Memoirs of an Opinionated Man (Fireside sports classic) Paperback – January, 1991


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Product Details

  • Series: Fireside sports classic
  • Paperback: 265 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Paper) (January 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671709895
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671709891
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,226,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a highly entertaining, funny, and tightly written memoir. Anyone interested in ghostwriting should read this book. Taylor Branch does a wonderful job with structure, with each chapter reading like a thematic essay, rather than a chronological depiction of events. I couldn't put the book down.
Russell is a wily and stubborn yet unconventionally thoughtful persona. Russell was an avid student and his opinions, while unorthodox, make a lot of sense, and thus are very humorous. His qualms with the idolization of sports stars, for example, manifest in funny anecdotes about fans seeking autographs and Red Auerbach trying to retire his jersey. And though Russell tries to depict his life in unromatntic terms - the final scene is of him giving up his clim of Mt Ranier - his story is inspirational. The path he takes from rural, segregated Louisiana - where his peers believe in ghosts - to media superstar is dramatic.
My favorite section in the book is the part where Russell describes Sam Jones's ability to take over a game, but Jones's refusal to do it very often. Jones didn't want the responsibility, he says, which confuses his teammates. The juxtaposition of Jones's great abilities to his listless and uncooperative sides was captivating. This is by far the best sports memoirs, and one of the best memoirs period, I've ever read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 19, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Bill Russell writes as he played; with controversy and excellence. As an N.B.A. All-Star and 11-time world champion, he knows about life and transfers this knowledge to the pages of his book.
This is a book about life's victories and defeats and how to deal with them.
Russell is entertaining, candid and controversial. He says what he thinks and has a great philosophy of life.
This book was written in 1979, but is even more important today, as we are besieged with athletes with big salaries and even bigger egos.
This book reveals a social as well as athletic history. If you can find a copy, it is well worth the reading.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Pete Schmieler (schmpete@pclink.com) on May 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
Bill Russell takes you way inside to experience what playing in the NBA is all about when it works to the best it's able. A super fine book. I am glad it surfaced again in my archives. You really get the FEEL about playing a perfect game, especially as a TEAM.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book is about life and the determination it takes to make it. It's funny yet it made me cry. It takes a boy from humble beginings to being on top of the world.
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Format: Paperback
I have probably read a couple thousand books in my life. Fiction, nonfiction, history, technology, biography, etc. If I had to choose a top ten, this would be one of them.

Admittedly, I'm a 6'10" guy who loves basketball, but many jock biographies are shallow, predictable and boring. This is none of those. He discusses the painful periods of his life, not just the successes. As stated elsewhere, only about a third of the books is about basketball. He is an African American man from the south who came of age during the 1950s, then spent his entire professional career in a place where people of his race were not treated well.

Mr. Russell is an intelligent, thoughtful, and (as the title states) opinionated man. You don't have to agree with him, but his positions come from a lifetime of experience and contemplation. Jim Crow, identity politics and racial profiling are all discussed in this memoir. There is a humorous anecdote where he is pulled over for DWB (driving while black).

As a basketball player, he won 11 NBA titles in 13 years. Think about that. That's Jordan plus Kobe. Throw in two NCAA titles and Olympic gold. Yes, he had tremendous ability, but you may be surprised by his deep analysis of the game. Have you ever thought about how you could use the blindspots in your opponents eyes to your advantage? Bill Russell has. And as they say in infomercials, "wait, there's more".

His co-author, Taylor Branch, is also a historian of the civil rights movement. Another clue that this is not your typical sports book.

I first read this book over thirty years ago, and have read it at least once in every decade since then. I realize it is no longer in print, and I wish there was an ebook edition, but if you like biographies, you will find it worth your time. If you are a basketball fan, even better. It may make you think differently about the state of game today.
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By B. Sweeney on December 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the best sports memoirs I've ever read. He's totally introspective and delves into every aspect of his life across different sections of his life. As I saw it, this book went through three parts of his life in order --

* The first part of the book is about growing up, his family, school, and maturation.
* The second part is about basketball.
* The third part is all about his social life, divorce, philandering, and life post-basketball.

Mr Russell seems to keep his comments about other people above the belt and doesn't level any attacks, but he doesn't hold back when saying things about *himself*; he's totally critical of himself and lays out scores of mistakes that he made over his life, explaining the decisions he made at the time and how they looked in hindsight. Every portion of the book was equally enthralling to me, from his Grandpa knocking out a mule with a punch, learning to jump in college and looking down into the hoop, and all of the crazy women he dated during his career. It's a story of growth and learning full of terrific anecdotes about basketball and life. Get it.
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