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A Sense of Where You Are: Bill Bradley at Princeton Paperback – June 30, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (June 30, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374526893
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374526894
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

First published in 1965, A Sense of Where You Are is the literary equivalent of a harmonic convergence, a remarkable confluence of two talents--John McPhee and Bill Bradley--at the beginning of what would prove to be long and distinguished careers. While McPhee would blossom into one of the best nonfiction writers of the last 35 years, Bradley segued from an all-American basketball player at Princeton, to Rhodes Scholar, to NBA star, to three terms in the U.S. Senate. McPhee noticed greatness in Bradley from the start; the book is an extension of a lengthy magazine profile McPhee wrote early in Bradley's senior year; the title comes from Bradley always knowing his position in relation to the basket. What's so noteworthy about the book is the greatness it promised--both for writer and for subject, a greatness both have delivered through the years again and again. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Immensely well-written, inspiring without being preachy, and contains as well the clearest analyses of Bradley’s moves, fakes, and shots that have appeared in print.”—Rex Lardner, The New York Times Book Review

More About the Author

John McPhee was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and was educated at Princeton University and Cambridge University. His writing career began at Time magazine and led to his long association with The New Yorker, where he has been a staff writer since 1965. The same year he published his first book, A Sense of Where You Are, with FSG, and soon followed with The Headmaster (1966), Oranges (1967), The Pine Barrens (1968), A Roomful of Hovings and Other Profiles (collection, 1969), The Crofter and the Laird (1969), Levels of the Game (1970), Encounters with the Archdruid (1972), The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed (1973), The Curve of Binding Energy (1974), Pieces of the Frame (collection, 1975), and The Survival of the Bark Canoe (1975). Both Encounters with the Archdruid and The Curve of Binding Energy were nominated for National Book Awards in the category of science.

Customer Reviews

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This book is another fascinating discussion written by a great writer.
paul f stone
There's a great climax here, too, as we follow Bradley's career to his final game, in many ways the perfect ending to a stellar college career.
john a lehrer
I recommend this book to anyone interested in sports, or to anyone longing to read a good book.
Chris

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By john a lehrer on November 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
John McPhee's profile of Bill Bradley at Princeton is classic McPhee: the careful, meticulous observer;the passionate but objective reporter; the master wordsmith. For anyone who hasn't read McPhee, this is a great introduction to his work (it's also McPhee's first book, and has been in print every year since it was written in the mid-'60s).
What do you call this book? Sports writing? A detailed profile? Both, I guess, and it really provides insight into Bradley's character, intelligence, and ethic of hard work and determination. McPhee has a great way of reporting the archetypical anecdotes to illustrate specific points--in this case, what a careful student of the game (and of life) Bill Bradley is. There's a great climax here, too, as we follow Bradley's career to his final game, in many ways the perfect ending to a stellar college career. Other nice touches are the photographs and the printing of an updated essay McPhee wrote about Bradley when he was campaigning for senate reelection. If enough people read this, Bradley will be a shoo-in for president.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By karl b. on December 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Curious about Bill Bradley, the man? Sometimes a sense of the man can be had by looking at the youth. This book was written in 1965 after Bradley had finished his Princeton career and was on his way to Oxford. John McPhee's books pack powerful character studies into deceptively simple language. On the surface this is a book about basketball (it's a good book about basketball!), and about excellence through dedication and discipline . The ironic title refers to Bradley's always being aware of where he was on the court in relation to the basket, and to his deep sense of social responsibility for his gifts of privilege, intellect and ability. The portrayal is of a decent, conscientious young man, undistracted or affected by intense celebrity-- whose success in athletics and academics was as much a function of attitude and determination as any innate talent
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By jacohen@email.njin.net on June 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
Written when Bill Bradley was still a student at Princeton, the book is a synthesis of McPhee's interviews with and observations of the three-time All American. It creates a picture of Bradley as a person of character who brings his personal integrity to whatever he does and who succeeds as a result of hard work applied in accord with his personal principles. We learn, for example, that as a youngster Bradley apparently had no special basketball ability, but he decided he wanted to play and literally taught himself the game piece-by-piece, constructing his jump shot, for example, from five separate pieces and being so aware of his movements that when he missed a shot he knew which of the five pieces he had not performed correctly. And this same dedication shows through in Bradley's pursuit of his education and in his private conduct: while a student at Princeton he taught a Sunday school class for some of the town's children, and even after a Saturday night away game (followed by a six hour bus ride, reaching campus after 4 a.m.) there was never any thought of not teaching the class the next morning. This inspirational book, A Sense of Where You Are: a profile of William Warren Bradley, gives us a very clear sense of who he is, a man of honor.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stephen R. Laniel on August 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
This was John McPhee's first book, so it obviously holds a lot of interest as a glimpse at the man's later style. I'm happy to say that while this is obviously McPhee -- you can tell it's him within a page or so -- it's one of the weaker McPhees. Which is praising by faint damns: McPhee's style seems to have emerged fully-formed from his forehead at The New Yorker, and moved continuously upward in small, methodical steps. By the time we get to Uncommon Carriers, which I'll review soon, the McPhee style has been honed to a keen edge.

A Sense Of Where You Are is also notable as a first glimpse at Bill Bradley: future Rhodes Scholar, future New York Knicks basketball player, future senator, future presidential candidate. One wants to say "All of the future Bradleys were there when McPhee wrote A Sense of Where You Are," and that may be true: not only a great athlete, Bradley was the most admired man on the Princeton campus. And this isn't just retrospective I-knew-him-whenism: A Sense of Where You Are came out in 1965, before anyone could know what Bradley would become.

If I tell you that this is a McPhee book, and if you've read McPhee, I can basically stop there. A McPhee book is characterized by a gentle forward motion propelled atop sentences that have no right to work as they do. The sentences are largely staccato, and in books other than this one they tend to feel like a sequence of random observations. In The Curve of Binding Energy, for instance, you feel like you're reading a mere litany of facts about nuclear fusion which seemed interesting to John McPhee, yet by the end you really have learned a lot about the construction of a nuclear weapon, and the sentences more than merely hang together; they flow.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ken Friedman on April 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
I'm writing this review because the fact that it didn't have a 5-star rating irritated me. I first saw the McPhee/Bill Bradley piece in the New Yorker Magazine about 30 years ago. After reading it I xeroxed the entire article and sent copies of it to every member of the University of South Carolina basketball team (which for those of you who are as old as I am was coached by the legendary Frank McGuire (the assistant coach was Donnie Walsh, now President and General Manager of the Indiana Pacers) and featured a cast of great college players like John Roche, Tommy Owens, Billy Walsh, Bobby Cremins, etc. All of the players (an unusually intelligent group) loved the article. We had many conversations about Bradley's approach to the game in the months to come. This is definitely a 5-star book for any lover of the true game of basketball. It's great and can't possibly be outdated. Highest recommendation.
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