From Publishers Weekly
Of all the sporting contests in the world, baseball, basketball and football are by far the most popular in America: millions of diehard fans dedicate countless hours to following these games on TV, in print and in person. But perhaps few fans know why they are drawn to one sport more than another, or why they feel such a strong affiliation to their favorite. In his ninth book, Mandelbaum applies the same tactical research skills that made him a leading authority on American foreign policy to chronicling the history of the big-three American sports, of the superstars who became household names and of the evolution of the rules of each game. Baseball, which experienced its great rise during Americas agrarian stage when the majority of the nations people lived in rural areas, plays to our longing for the pure, the outdoors, he says. When the country entered its industrial period, and many people worked in factories with extremely specialized jobs, football, a sport in which each player is assigned carefully specialized roles, began to evolve in American schools. Basketball, unlike the other more organic sports, was invented during the post-industrial age. Like the "knowledge workers" of that era-the economists, psychologists and designers-basketball required that athletes bring little equipment to the court. The author parallels each sports history with the history of our nation, explaining in textbook-like prose why each became popular and endured where other sports did not.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"A scholarly yet readable study of why Americans watch so much baseball, football, and basketball." -- USA Today
"If Alexis de Tocqueville were to . . . write a book about U.S. sport, this would be the book." -- The Financial Times
"Michael Mandelbaum has turned his fine eye and keen intellect toward sports -- and shown us why they matter." -- Michael Shapiro, author of The Last Good Season: Brooklyn, the Dodgers and Their Final Pennant Race Together
"So that's why we sports fans are so devoted. Thank you, Michael Mandelbaum, for your dazzling and witty insight." -- Lynn Sherr, ABC News 20/20, author of America the Beautiful: The Stirring True Story Behind Our Nation's Favorite Song
"Some insightful explanations for why we care so much about sweaty men (and women) playing games." -- Sportsillustrated.com
"Sports fans will find this fascinating; others...will find a deeper appreciation and understanding of the dynamics of sports." -- Dallas Morning News August 8, 2004
"This is a great account of how and why sports have become so popular and important in America." -- Robert Kraft, owner of The New England Patriots, Super Bowl XXXVI and XXXVIII Champions