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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply, it's the book that made a Yankee love Texas.
Without question, Semi-Tough is Jenkins' masterpiece. As a high school kid, I wanted to be Billy Clyde Puckett...the bursts of laughter still erupt each time I pick it up.
Two stud hosses from Ft.Worth, having starred at TCU, find themselves together in NYC and playing for the football Giants. They've got themselves a little old date in LaLaLand with the...Jets in...
Published on March 14, 2003 by Scott Ashburn

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars Semi-Tough Mossed the Mark for Me
Mr. Jenkins is a gifted writer and I enjoyed his work for Sports Illustrated and enjoy reading him in Golf Digest. I found this book lacking in humor and rather crude.
Published 9 months ago by Aaron Raack


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply, it's the book that made a Yankee love Texas., March 14, 2003
By 
Without question, Semi-Tough is Jenkins' masterpiece. As a high school kid, I wanted to be Billy Clyde Puckett...the bursts of laughter still erupt each time I pick it up.
Two stud hosses from Ft.Worth, having starred at TCU, find themselves together in NYC and playing for the football Giants. They've got themselves a little old date in LaLaLand with the...Jets in what you call your Super Bowl. Puckett tells the story (in first person) of the days leading up to the game by taking a small tape recorder wherever he goes. Along with his counterpart, one Marvin "Shake" Tiller, and the gorgeous and talented Barbara Jane Bookman, Puckett waxes poetic on everything under the sun, particularly the hypocrisy associated with such an event as the Super Bowl in LA. It's lewd, raunchy, politically incorrect, and about as funny a read as you'll ever find...
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the funniest sports book ever, February 27, 2001
By 
"pspa" (Boston, MA USA) - See all my reviews
It is incredibly politically incorrect, replete with satiric racial and sexist slurs, full of (as an old song goes) cigarettes whiskey and wild, wild women, but despite that, and more likely in part because of that, this is the single funniest sports book ever written. Nominally about two characters from Texas who play for the New York Giants in the 70s, this is wonderful satire about sports, athletes, and life in general, and the fact that it is out of print is mind boggling. Burt Reynolds gave a pretty good performance as the immortal running back Billy Clyde Puckett, but youve GOT to read this book to truly appreciate Dan Jenkins' biting satiric wit.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep an eye open for this one...., April 8, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Semi-Tough (Hardcover)
...check the auctions, check garage sales, check used bookstores in your neighborhood. If you have never read this before, this is quite simply one of the funniest books ever written. Do not let the horrible movie from 1977 that was adapted from this fool you - this is nothing less than a minor classic about the New York Giants, told 'first person' by the star running back, as 'hype week' ensues before their big Super Bowl showdown with their crosstown rivals, the Jets. Leading up to the game, we are treated 'firsthand' to many lewd and vivid stories of wild parties right out of what can only be the '70s, loose women (also right out of what can only be the '70s), and all around male bonding as the team stands on the verge of it's finest hour. It is funny how nearly 30 years later, the somewhat jaded underlying subtext of the business side of professional football still rings true in many instaces, and in many other examples we see that things in professional sports have definetely become more complicated and bottom line oriented here in real life in the early 21st Century. WARNING: definetely NOT a book for the easily offended! As funny as it is, some of the text seems like it was lifted right out of the raunchiest issues of Hustler. Not to mention that this book is filled with some of the most un-politically correct racial slurs of all time, and the race card is indeed a recurring issue throughout the book (the star RB who is supposedly 'writing' the book is a white guy), once again showing the era that it was written in as being a much different time. Buyer Beware!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't believe this is out of print, August 12, 1999
By A Customer
I was just shopping for "Life Its Ownself" for a friend who works in a college sports program -- I thought he could relate to T.J. Lambert, the coach. I was surprised and saddened to see it's out of print, but "Semi-Tough," too?!? What treachery.
I've read most of Dan Jenkins' books, and although "Dead Solid Perfect" is my favorite, "Semi-Tough" was my first love. I first read it in high-school, too. Although I never did have any illusions that I was anything like Barbara Jane (yes, I am female!) we all have to have something to aim for, don't we?!? Mr. Jenkins, long may you wave.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warmth and wisdom in the flat-out funniest sports novel, June 24, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Semi-Tough (Hardcover)
Take your great stylists of humor today -- your Molly Ivins, your Bob Shacochis, your Carrie Fisher, some would say your Dave Barry, you get the idea -- take those great writers and know that Dan Jenkins is second to none of them in creating his own universe of language, a convincing land where jocular wit reigns and finely drawn characters live, where the fun is wild but never eclipsed by love. Jenkins shows off best in "Semi-Tough," about ready for revival as a piece of hilarious '70s nostalgia. It's the story of a woman and her two lifetime friends, both Giants stars about to play the Super Bowl. It's told by Billy Clyde, taping some comments for a game-week diary with a hilarious casual honesty and the best eye for detail a reader could want. While the redneck backdrop and the laughing, cynical use of sexist, homosexist, ethnic and especially racist slurs might get hard to read even in this context, the ribald high-life and football hype life are a constant, sly hoot. Most important, though, is the subtly drawn family of friends at the book's center; love has seldom gotten such an affectionate treatment without too much sweetener. Careful readers will find layers of psychological meaning revealed in Billy Clyde's monologues, giving this book a depth to go along with its colorful lifestyles of the studs. If you're a football fan, or if you're a friendship fan, or if you just like to laugh out loud while you read a tightly paced book, "Semi-Tough" has got something for you. Join the readers who know this little book is one of the unheralded gems.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So much better than that movie with the same title., January 11, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Semi-Tough (Hardcover)
Please, please, PLEASE do not let that questionable movie with the same name discourage you from enjoying this ribald classic. Written in (perhaps) a more honest, less "sensitive" time, Semi Tough is not for the feint of heart, easily offended, victim-mentality, politically correct reader. But if you're looking for a hard hitting, fast moving, side splitting depiction of pro footballers in a less "enlightened" time, Semi Tough is sure to please. It's just as sharp and funny today as it was 25 years ago, a rare treasure in a sea of unremarkable humor literature.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nearly dead solid perfect (hey, great title for a book!), June 16, 1998
By A Customer
Read it the first time my senior year of high school. Read it again about a week ago and found a whole new level of enjoyment. Dan Jenkins is one of the few authors who makes me laugh out loud. I WAS Billy Clyde Puckett, I wanted to be Shake Tiller, and I've spent 20 years looking for Barbara Jane Bookman. Haven't found her yet, but I think I'm close. Recommended for anyone who loves sports and loves life. Not necessarily in that order.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you don't laugh, you can't laugh., July 31, 1997
By A Customer
I'm still not sure whether this book is the dirtiest funny book I've ever read, or the funniest dirty book I've ever read. Regardless, the description of the insanity of Super Bowl Week, set against the background of the players themselves, who are only there to play the game and have some FUN, is as accurate today as it was when it was first written, many years ago.
I cherish my copy; and I re-read it at least once a year - either right before the season begins, or right before the Super Bowl. I laugh as much now as I did the first time.
Football fans, find a copy and read it for insight into your religon, or for the humor.
Humor fans, find a copy and read it for the sheer pleasure, even if you know nothing about football.
Network TV execs, NFL execs; find a copy and read it and see how the real world views your "extravaganza".
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Semi-Tough, February 23, 2004
NORTH DALLAS 40
BY PETER GENT (1973)
FILM STARRING NICK NOLTE AND MAC DAVIS (1978)
SEMI-TOUGH
BY DAN JENKINS
FILM STARRING BURT REYNOLDS, KRIS KRISTOFERSON AND JILL CLAYBURGH (1975)
Some great sports books are terrible films, such as Dan Jenkins' riotous Semi-Tough, which was a clunker 1975 film starring Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristoferson and the abysmal Jill Clayburgh. Then there are great sports books that make pretty good films, as is the case with Peter Gent's North Dallas 40. The 1978 film, starring Nick Nolte, was about as good as sports movies got in that era. Subsequent efforts have raised the bar, but despite some hokiness, good acting and story development hold it up.
North Dallas 40 followed the same pattern as Semi-Tough, depicting in semi-fictional manner the intertwining of football, manhood and Texas. These are probably the two best football novels ever written; both are raw, funny and sexy. North Dallas 40 takes the story one step further, by introducing tragedy and pathos. Today, every Tom, Dick and Harry loves to pretend they know The Bard, and would say this book was Shakespearean. I would not go that far, but it is good! Finally, North Dallas 40 is the third of the great "tell-all" sports books of the 1970s. Before North and Semi, there was Jim Bouton's Ball Four.
North Dallas 40 unsuccessfully tries to pass off an opening disclaimer that the characters are fictional. Forget about it. Phil Elliott is Peter Gent, a Dallas Cowboy's wide receiver in the 1960s. B.A. is Tom Landy, the Cowboys legendary coach. Seth Maxwell is Don Meredith, their quarterback from 1960 to 1968 (some tried to say he was Craig Morton, but he is "Dandy Don"). Thomas Richardson is Duane Thomas, the surly black militant Dallas running back and star of the 1972 Super Bowl. Conrad Hunter is straight-arrow owner Clint Murchison, Art Hartman is Roger Staubach, and Jo Bob Williams is probably Bob Lilly.
It is a simple enough tale of a week in Elliott's life, preparing with his team for a pivotal game against Fran Tarkenton's New York Giants at Yankee Stadium (circa 1969). Elliott is a rebel, a malcontent, a non-conformist, a drug addict, an alcoholic, a bi-curious womanizer, an atheist, maybe a Communist, and a clutch wide receiver. He is appealing in that "bad boy" way that we love dark characters, like Paul Newman in "Hud". He is having an affair with the fiancée of the owner's younger brother, all the while soothing his terrible aches and bodily pains with a variety of pills, booze and pot. His pot-smoking partner is Maxwell.
B.A. is a straight-arrow Christian who cannot understand why everybody cannot be like that. He also has no personal feelings for his players, all of whom he motivates by mixing an even dose of fear, loathing, intimidation and pain. Much of Landry's "plastic computer coach" reputation stemmed from this book. Maxwell is not anybody's friend, but rather a totally self-centered genius leader on a football field. Elliott gets hooked up with the lovely Charlotte Caulder, and after the loss to the Giants, he is ex-communicated from the club for smoking pot. Maxwell's pot smoking is conveniently overlooked. Elliott's real crime is sleeping with the fiancée of Conrad's brother.
In the book, when he returns to Charlotte, he finds that she and her black lover have been killed in a grisly love triangle murder. The film, featuring the brooding Nolte at his anti-social best, and an excellent "good ol' boy" performance from Davis, steers from this hole and leaves us with the memory of Phil as victim of corporate hypocrisy.
Semi-Tough is much lighter, filled with sex, semi-macho Texas homilies, and Jenkins at his pure funniest. It is the story of three childhood friends. Billy Clyde Puckett (Reynolds) and Shake Tiller (Kristoferson) are superstar football players with the New York Giants who played together in high school in Ft. Worth, Texas, then at T.C.U.. Barbara Jane Bookman has been with them every step of the way since kindergarten. The film is destroyed by Clayburgh's portrayal. In the book, she is described as Pamela Anderson fine. In 1975 Loni Anderson might have cut the mustard. Okay, her character had depth, so they needed an actress, but Clayburgh was semi-pretty at the very best. The idea that men would fall for her in the manner required is ludicrous.
The book succeeds because it can meander in and out of Billy Clyde's fervent imagination, making full use of his storytelling skills. Billy Clyde describes writing Semi-Tough while Jenkins writes Semi-Tough, all during the week leading up to the Giants Super Bowl match-up with the Jets at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Films, which require a tight, three-act structure, fail when they meander, as this one does. All the sight gags that Jenkins has the reader rolling in the aisles over are duds on the screen. Nevertheless, three out of four ain't bad.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, underrated book!, June 24, 2008
By 
Richard A. Bensen "The Hoon" (Deerfield, MA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
How can it be that nobody's reviewed this semi-classic? I wouldn't want to see the movie; Dan Jenkins' pithy one-liner wisdom needs to be visualized, not seen. And Shake Tiller's comment about football at the end stands for all of sport (paraphrase - Jenkins is well-worth paraphrasing): "Tell you something I learned about football a long time ago, Baby: what could have happened, did." Say no more!

But, if you like one liners, obscure books by Robert Heinlein are great too!
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Semi-Tough: A Novel
Semi-Tough: A Novel by Dan Jenkins (Paperback - August 1, 2006)
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