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The Franchise: A History of Sports Illustrated Magazine Paperback – October 14, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (October 14, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078688357X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786883578
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,260,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Franchise recounts the story of an industry joke that went on to become one of the most successful magazines in publishing history. Under the visionary leadership of managing editor André Laguerre, Sports Illustrated--launched in 1954--continually pushed the envelope, revolutionizing color printing in the process and making the careers of an immensely talented group of writers and photographers. Author Michael MacCambridge analyzes editorial and marketing strategies, including the infamous swimsuit issue, and profiles most of the key players--with an emphasis on the crack team of sportswriters that has included such talents as Dan Jenkins, Frank Deford, and Rick Reilly. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Believe it or not, there once was a time when Sports Illustrated didn't do a swimsuit issue and readers didn't get a free gadget for subscribing. MacCambridge, a onetime pop culture reporter, chronicles SI's evolution from its shaky start as a snooty publication covering too many yacht races and polo matches to its present status as the leading sports journal in America. Based on over 300 interviews with former and current staffers, it offers an inside perspective, crammed with blow-by-blow accounts of the office rivalries and schemes that shaped the magazine. Profiles of renowned sportswriters like Dan Jenkins and Frank Deford are included, along with those of managing editors Andre Laguerre and Mark Mulvoy, who were instrumental in developing the magazine. MacCambridge also examines the print and electronic competitive challenges SI has faced, and, of course, he covers the story behind the swimsuit issue as well. Essential for all public libraries.?Peter Ward, Lindenhurst Memorial Lib., N.Y.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Michael MacCambridge has written about movies, music and popular culture, but he is best known as one of the nation's foremost authorities on pro and college football.

His 2004 book 'America's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured A Nation' was published by Random House, and named by The Washington Post as one of the most distinguished works of non-fiction in 2004. The book also won the Nelson Ross Award given by the Professional Football Researchers Association, for outstanding achievement in pro football research and history. The paperback version was published by Anchor Vintage in 2005.

In 2012, he wrote 'Lamar Hunt: A Life in Sports,' the official biography of the American sportsman inducted in the pro football, international tennis and national soccer halls of fame.

His first book was 'The Franchise: A History of Sports Illustrated Magazine,' which was named as a New York Times Noteworthy Book, and described by the Boston Globe as "one of the great sports-book reads of all time." In 1999, he was the editor and a contributing writer for the New York Times bestseller 'ESPN SportsCentury,' a retrospective of sports in the 20th Century that included original essays by David Halberstam, Joyce Carol Oates, Roy Blount, Jr., Gerald Early, and others.

In 2005, MacCambridge edited the critically-acclaimed 'ESPN College Football Encyclopedia,' hailed by Sports Illustrated as "the Bible" of the sport.

In 2009, MacCambridge co-authored 'More Than A Game: The Glorious Present and Uncertain Future of the NFL,' with Brian Billick, the Super Bowl-winning former head coach of the Baltimore Raves. Also in 2009, MacCambridge was one of the contributing essayists to 'A New Literary History of America,' by Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors.

MacCambridge's freelance work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, GQ, and many other publications. From 1988-95, he was a columnist and critic at the Austin American-Statesman, writing about movies, music and popular culture. He earned a Master's degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1986. A year earlier, he received his B.A. from Creighton University in Omaha.

Since 1997, he has been an adjunct professor at Washington University in St. Louis, and performed a wide range of public speaking and editorial consulting work. The father of two children, Miles and Ella, he lives in St. Louis.

Customer Reviews

2.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By olingerstories on March 31, 2008
Format: Paperback
With SI opening up its back issues online in March 2008, MacCambridge's "The Franchise" is worth another look at the creation and evolution of the magazine. The sections on Dan Jenkins and Andre Laguerre are great reads and would fit well in the traditional "bonus" piece section of SI that Laguerre created as editor and Jenkins often filled.

The major misconception seems to be that this book is about sports. It is about sport journalism. If you know that going in, you should be pleasantly surprised. SI was widely recognized as the best written journal of its kind, actually the prototype of the "New Journalism." The writers in the 1960s and early 70s were kings. But, after Laguerre's sacking, eventually the power turned to the managing editor, particularly the mentally unstable Gilbert Rogin and the talent-challenged Mark Mulvoy. Pictures replaced words, image replaced talent, and SI seized being a must read. Fascinating, fascinating stuff.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lime Directional-Lights on February 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The negative reviews of this book seem unwarranted to me (and, would it be fair to assume, largely from one particularly bitter reader?). MacCambridge can write, he's done his homework, and he has in fact made a number of interesting observations. Even though I disagree with many of them (e.g., his inordinate fuss over Dan Jenkins), I find it hard to discount anyone who recognizes SI for the "wildly profitable, mass-market magazine best known for its swimsuit issue" it's become. If your reaction is "yeah, so what's wrong with that?" don't bother with the book. If, on the other hand, you'd be interested to learn how a magazine which used to commission such engaging prose on everything from elk hunting to college wrestling matches to major league baseball became the narrowly-focused, crass exercise in corporate branding it's today, and how it's coped with ominous developments like the Warner merger, ESPN and the baffling rise of Rick Reilly - don't let the pithy criticism put you off.

Granted, the book does drag in spots, and would almost have benefited from some more energetic editing (and a few more photos of the cast of characters), but it's a welcome change from the obsequious, mass-market stuff which typifies sports-related journalism today.

I would have increased my rating by another star had the publisher bothered to produce a more imaginative (and sympathetic) cover.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
If only the author had spent as much time thinking up an interesting narrative structure as interviewing witnesses! This is perhaps the dullest "history" that I have ever read. And it's pretty much shorn of insight - the book just takes the opinions of a few of Mr. MacCambridge's "heroes" and runs with them. I've been better entertained. Much better.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
For a "historian", the author has exceedingly narrow, parochial tastes. He has no edge, which is something this book desperately needs. If he were half as good a writer as some of those he disses, this might be an interesting read. As it is, it's a real trial.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 1, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Michael McCambridge has provided me the inspiration to check my local library, find all the back issues of SI, and read them cover to cover. The author proves what every die-hard sports fan and SI reader has known for years; that SI is the best magazine on the stand. He provides an exhaustive recount of the terrific writers that SI has employed over its lifetime, such as Jenkins, Deford, Blount Jr., Plimpton, and even Kurt Vonnegut. McCambridge fully details SI's transition from the 1950's to the 1990's and presents the magazine's alleged departure from literary quality during this decade. Not only is this book an evenhanded and accurate review, it is an easy read. Any lover of sports and good writing will want more of SI. A great job!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jim Lester on November 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Years before ESPN, Sports Illustrated defined the nature of sports in America. Founded in 1954 by Henry Luce of Time, SI started as a magazine devoted primarily to upper class activities like polo and yachting. Author Michael MacCambridge deftly traces the history of SI from that moment, through the editorship of Andre Laguerrre, the hard drinking force behind the movement to make SI a magazine about the "sweat sports"--football, basketball, baseball and track--on into SI's glory years before the advent of ESPN in the 1990s.

Along the way, MacCambridge shows how Sports Illustrated redefined sports in the 1950s, shifting from an attitude of jock worship to a more cynical and realistic modern view. He also includes interesting profiles of some of the magazine's legendary writers like Dan Jenkins, Tex Maule and Frank Deford. Having written some about sports in the fifties (HOOP CRAZY: COLLEGE BASKETBALL IN THE 1950s), I found THE FRANCHISE to be an enjoyable and informative contribution to both the history of sports as well as the history of journalism.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is an engrossing book for readers who want to understand the interplay between the writers, editors, and publishers of SI - in other words the people who created (and in some cases are still creating) SI.
It is NOT for people seeking out behind-the-scenes tidbits concerning the subjects covered in and on the magazine, including the swimsuit models.
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