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The Legend of Bagger Vance: A Novel of Golf and the Game of Life Hardcover – May 17, 1995


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (May 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688140483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688140489
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #337,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Improbable as it may sound, this allegorical first novel by an L.A. screenwriter reads like an F. Scott Fitzgerald scholar reciting a medley culled from the Bhagavadgita, Huck Finn and The Tempest: it has gray-flannel charm, a thick vein of mysticism, homespun homilies and an encroaching storm. In 1931, a mythical golf match is arranged between the legendary Bobby Jones and the fabled Walter Hagen to promote-amid the deprivation of the Depression-a luxurious golf resort on an island near Savannah, Ga. To rally financial support from the hard-hit local money boys, former hometown golf champ Rannulph Junah, agrees to participate in the match. A somewhat degenerate aristocrat, Junah has been traveling the world in search of meaning ever since his experience in the Great War. The man whom Junah calls "my mentor and boon companion" is Bagger Vance, a charismatic Eastern mystic, who is black. The tournament attracts a multitude of celebrities from all over the world; it's a heroic 36-hole battle of the titans that takes place during the course of one fateful, stormy day. For Junah, the struggle is not to conquer his opponents, the elements or the daunting golf links-the conflict resides within himself. Vance helps him find his Authentic Swing-which is, of course, a metaphor for self-discovery. The novel is given the feel of a teaching by its frame, in which the wizened narrator-a septuagenarian surgeon and former golf champ who, as a 10-year-old caddy, witnessed the event-relates the tale to a burnt-out medical student in order to pass on the wisdom of Bagger Vance. Although the prose occasionally strays into the rough, this is a thoroughly beguiling little fable. 50,000 first printing; $60,000 ad/promo; film rights to Jake Eberts.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA?Elderly Hardison L. Greaves describes a memorable golf match he witnessed as a child in the 1930s to a medical student who is nearing burn-out. In the match, golf-great Bobby Jones plays Walter Hagen; to generate local support, World War I hero Rannulph Junah is asked to participate. He declines at first, but then his companion, Bagger Vance, offers to caddy for him. It becomes apparent that Vance is more than a companion; he is the man's mentor and spiritual advisor. Although looked upon with disdain by the golfers and spectators, Vance, who is black, counsels Junah to look for his Authentic Swing. The symbolism is apparent; Junah finds not only his golf swing, but also himself. Pressfield's story will be of interest to students. Its mysticism promotes thought, and golf references are simple enough for nonplayers.?Diane Goheen, Topeka West High School, KS
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Steven Pressfield is the author of Gates of Fire, Tides of War, Last of the Amazons, Virtues of War, The Afghan Campaign, Killing Rommel, The Profession, The Lion's Gate, The War of Art, Turning Pro, The Authentic Swing, Do the Work and The Warrior Ethos.

His debut novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance, was adapted for screen. A film of the same title was released in 2000, directed by Robert Redford and starring Matt Damon, Will Smith and Charlize Theron.

His father was in the Navy, and he was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1943. Since graduating from Duke University in 1965, he has been a U.S. Marine, an advertising copywriter, schoolteacher, tractor-trailer driver, bartender, oilfield roustabout, attendant in a mental hospital and screenwriter.

His struggles to earn a living as a writer (it took seventeen years to get the first paycheck) are detailed in The War of Art, Turning Pro and The Authentic Swing.

There's a recurring character in his books, named Telamon, a mercenary of ancient days. Telamon doesn't say much. He rarely gets hurt or wounded. And he never seems to age. His view of the profession of arms is a lot like Pressfield's conception of art and the artist:

"It is one thing to study war, and another to live the warrior's life."

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Customer Reviews

The golfer will read it because it is golf.
S. McCullough
The text flows well and tells a compelling and soul inspiring journey using golf and spirituality as a canvas.
Cameron DeVries
I'm sure you've seen the movie by now, the book is even better!!!
Kathleen Garmsen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

114 of 120 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
It's either funny or sad that none of the reviews I've read about this book, either in print or on Amazon, recognize the source of this story: the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. The Mahabharata is one of the greatest stories ever told - and the Bhagavad Gita is given smack dab in the middle of it.
"The Legend of Bagger Vance" is a retelling of this epic, and a summary of the Bhagavad Gita, in a wonderful golf story. In the Mahabharata, Arjuna must fight a war against his step-brothers and cousins over possession of the kingdom. It is a righteous war, for he and his brothers are the heirs. But he refuses to fight, saying that war is futile and that it would be better to die than to fight one's family. So his charioteer, Lord Krishna, an incarnation of God, has to park the chariot and give him a really long lecture about why he should put aside his doubts, do his duty, and fight. Of course, it takes him the whole Bhagavad Gita to explain why this is a good thing to do, and it involves helping Arjuna understand who he really is, who God is, and what the nature of reality is. Along the way, he explains how to find peace in the midst of action, and to discover our true nature.
The Bhagavad Gita explains how to find union with God in the midst of daily life, and "The Legend of Bagger Vance" gives a very readable restatement of how to live a truly authentic life (and play great "golf" - whatever your form of "golf" is).
In "Legend," our hero, Rannulph Junah (R.Junah for those who like things spelled out) is a world-weary war veteran who is asked to play a game of golf with Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones.
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79 of 87 people found the following review helpful By David Savage on March 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
I picked up a few golf books this Winter to get me into the spirit and look forward to the upcoming season. One of the books I picked up was recommended to me by a friend, "The Legend of Bagger Vance". I enjoyed this book as a reader and as a golfer.
The basic premise: can a golfer return to the game after a long absence, guided by a mystical caddie, to compete with a couple of the world's best competitors? As a golfer, I say no. When I haven't been playing for a while, it takes a lot more than my mental approach to get my game back on track.
This story takes you on a mystical journey on e legendary golf course on a foggy, windy island of the coast of Savannah. I always enjoy stories that take me to a different time using some actual characters of the day. The setting is one of the strong points of the book. This author does an excellent job describing the golf world in the early 1930s.
The real strength of the book is the mysterious Bagger Vance who encourages the lead character to transcend the physical world to overcome his golfing challenges. We all know how much golf is a mental game. This book takes it a step further. Forget about keeping your left arm straight, your head down, and your wrists firm, this book will remind you that there are "other" elements at play in the game of golf.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Tim Smith on October 25, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was browsing the shelves of my local library and was surprised to see that "The Legend of Bagger Vance" was sitting next to "Gates of Fire", both written by Steven Pressfield. Since I was thoroughly captivated by "Gates..." I thought I'd give "...Bagger" a chance. Even though I'm not an active golfer, having golfed twice, several years ago, this story is relevant to anyone who is interested in learning and remembering life's lessons.
Initially, I wasn't quite sure what to expect but as the characters were brought to life and the basic storyline was established, I began to realize I was reading something special. For example, Pressfield gives a great description of being in the "Zone", that rare and special time when ability is maximized with fluid and natural effort resulting in optimal performance. Winning becomes a by-product; the act itself or the Authentic Swing as Bagger Vance identifies it is what's important. Life's lesson seems to be for us not to worry about the results of our behavior. Instead, each of us strives for being our Authentic Self, and the results will take care of itself. If, in our striving, we feel isolated, we also need to remember we are never alone but are accompanied by a Higher Power, however we choose to define it.
Obviously,"The Legend of Bagger Vance" has so much more to offer than can be explained in this short review. However, I'm here to tell you that by just reading it the lessons learned will take care of themselves.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Frank Wheeler on September 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
The story tees off with a golf caddy named Bagger Vance, a local hero and golfer named, Jonas and two world reknown golfers at a local country club in the deep humid south of the 1930's. The event of a fictional golf game is watched and recorded by a young boy who years later retells the story of the game to another young man. After the author takes us on a stroll through a southern golf course we come to the realization, God is every where, even on the links. The story is a metaphoric tale that puts the work of God into a human perspective. We also realize that we all possess inate abilities that often are lost by our earthly desire to conform with our environment. After reading the Legend of Bagger Vance you will want to begin working on "your" game and never again will you look at inane activities without considering the past. Great book should be read by anyone who loves the south, golf, history, and God.
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