Sportswriter: The Life and Times of Grantland Rice
 
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Sportswriter: The Life and Times of Grantland Rice [Hardcover]

Charles Fountain
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Grantland Rice (1880-1954) was arguably the best and certainly the most famous sportswriter of his time, the era also of Ring Lardner, Damon Runyon and Heywood Broun, who were his friends. Fountain ( Another Man's Poison ) approaches his subject with affection, admiration and not a hint of condescension. Rice's style was florid, he was a hero-worshipper and he was addicted to writing sentimental doggerel, of which he was inordinately proud, but these stylistic elements were prized by his fans. A Tennessee native and a Vanderbilt graduate, he worked for papers in the South and Midwest, then went to New York City in 1911, where he wrote for the Mail , the Tribune (for which he did his best work), the World-Telegram and the Mirror and was syndicated in almost 100 papers. He was a prodigious worker, but always made time to assist a beginning reporter, to befriend sports stars like Ruth, Dempsey and Bobby Jones and to become an excellent golfer. Fountain's celebration of Rice is a vivid introduction for a new generation to this consummate pro.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-America's Golden Age of Sports is recounted through the life story of the gifted writer who immortalized its heroes. Rice was the best-known sportswriter in the U.S. for 40 years, but he was also a beat writer, poet, and by all accounts a supreme gentleman, remembered for his critical yet unjaded eye and prolific, graceful dispatches. This glowing biography traces his career from his rookie assignment in Nashville to his eventual syndication in 100 newspapers. Fountain relates in detail his close friendships with legends such as Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, and Bobby Jones, not to mention with writers such as Ring Lardner and Paul Gallico. He also looks at the changing role of newspapers (and the crucial importance of their sports sections) in the first half of the 20th century. This enthralling story is well written, replete with humorous anecdotes and selections of Rice's verse and sportswriting. It will appeal to sports fanatics and general readers alike.
Christopher Solomon, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

As a journalist during the first half of the 20th century, Rice raised sports reporting to majestic heights. His prose immortalized the events on the playing fields of America. His phrase describing a Notre Dame vs. Army football game--"Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again..."--became as legendary as the young men whose fame he described. Fountain (journalism, Northeastern Univ.) has skillfully re-created the life and time when epic conquests and defeats were played and reported for their own intrinsic value. Seldom have subject and biographer written with such similar style. The pages of this book echo with the past glories of athletes such as Ty Cobb, Red Grange, Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Bobby Jones, Joe Louis, and Babe Didrikson, but especially of the man who painted vivid literary protraits of these legends. Very highly recommended.
- Albert Spencer, Coll. of Education, Univ. of Nevada-Las Vegas
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Though Red Smith is often acknowledged as the father of modern sportswriting, Grantland Rice is certainly the grandfather. Certainly few journalists have ever wielded the influence of Rice. In this fascinating biography, author Fountain points out that if Rice were writing today in the same flowery, hyperbolic style he employed in the 1920s and 1930s, he would be buried on some obscure midwestern weekly covering high school sports. But that would be separating Rice from his time, and Rice was perfect for his era--the golden age of American sports during which Ruth, Cobb, Dempsey, Jones, Tilden, and Rockne were among the brightest stars. Rice's literate, dramatic prose ("Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again") was perfect for a postwar America hungry for heroes. Besides the memorable lines (including sports' most oft-heard clich{‚}e: "when the one Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, he marks--not that you won or lost--but how you played the Game"), Rice's most enduring legacy may be the breadth of his interests. As Fountain point outs, Rice was among the first to write seriously of golf, track and field, and women's athletics. His interest in these sports was contagious, and the American public soon shared it. This is a thoroughly researched, well-written biography that offers a revealing portrait of both a man and his times. Wes Lukowsky

From Kirkus Reviews

As Fountain (Journalism/Northeastern) admits in this fine biography, Grantland Rice's ``florid style'' and ``saccharin rhyme...would doom him to deserved obscurity'' today. But in the 1920's and 30's, Rice was the most important and widely read sportswriter in America. Following the 1924 Army-Notre Dame game at the Polo Grounds, Rice penned what Fountain calls ``the most famous lead in sports journalism history''--``Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again''--and immortalized the Irish backfield of Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley, and Layden. Rice's knack for the golden phrase went back to his early days in Nashville: ``The One Great Scorer...marks/not that you won or lost/but how you played the Game.'' Verse headed almost every column and story from Rice's first job at his hometown Nashville Daily News, where he made $5 a week, to his heyday with the New York Tribune, where, in 1925, he earned an unheard-of $1,000 a week. With his syndicated column, his association with Collier's magazine, his Sportlight Films productions, and his radio work, the ``dean'' of sports journalism became as much a celebrity as the men he immortalized. Finding ``nobility and gentility'' in his subject, Fountain notes that Rice embodied the ``gee whiz'' school of sportswriting as opposed to the ``aw nuts'' school of Damon Runyon and Ring Lardner. Fountain owns up to Rice's ``glib insensitivity and ignorance'' on matters of race, however, admitting that Rice was as derogatory of Jess Willard and Joe Louis as any other sportswriter, and that he only grudgingly gave Jesse Owens his due. But Rice's 67 million words of ``purple prose'' over a 53-year career played no small part, he emphasizes, in casting the aura of legend around the likes of Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Bobby Jones, and Red Grange. A solid effort that uses ample quotes and examples from Rice's work, providing insight into the man and his times. (Eighteen halftones--not seen) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Review

"Fountain has skillfully recreated the life and time when epic conquests and defeats were played and reported for their own intrinsic value....The pages of this book echo with the past glories of athletes such as Ty Cobb, Red Grange, Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Bobby Jones, Joe Louis, and Babe Dirdrickson, but especially with the image of the man who painted vivid literary portraits of these legends. Very highly recommended."--Library Journal

"[A] fine biography....A solid effort that uses ample quotes and examples from Rice's work, providing insight into the man and his times."--Kirkus Reviews

About the Author


About the Author:
Charles Fountain is Assistant Professor of Journalism at Northeastern University. A contributor to magazines and newspapers such as The Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, and Columbia Journalism Review, he is the author of Another Man's Poison: The Life and Writing of Columnist George Frazier.
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