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When the Garden Was Eden Hardcover – October 18, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (October 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061956236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061956232
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #696,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Brilliant . . . smartly written, featuring tons of interviews with the Knicks of the Phil Jackson-Clyde-Reed era.” (New York Magazine)

“Harvey Araton, one of our most cherished basketball writers, has evocatively rendered the team that New York never stops pining for—the Old Knicks. More than a nostalgic chronicle . . . it’s a portrait of a group of proud, idiosyncratic men and the city that needed them.” (Jonathan Mahler, author of Ladies and Gentleman, the Bronx is Burning)

“I wasn’t there when Clyde and Willis and Dollar Bill were lighting up the Garden, let alone barnstorming Philadelphia church basements, but after reading When the Garden Was Eden I now feel like I was courtside with Woody and Dancing Harry.” (Will Leitch, founding editor of Deadspin)

“Harvey Araton, who writes the way Earl the Pearl played, has made the Old Knicks new again. I learned so much and I was there.” (Robert Lipsyte, author of An Accidental Sportswriter)

“Beautifully titled, wonderfully written . . . When the Garden Was Eden is a book about the assembly, success and failures of the Red Holzman-coached early ’70s Knicks. But with the then-ongoing Vietnam War and general social unrest serving as the backdrop, it’s actually about so much more than that.” (SLAM magazine)

“The coming NBA season may not happen due to labor strife. This book will help fans weatherthe storm by celebrating basketball at its very best: five players working as one, sharing the glory and achieving the ultimate success.” (Booklist (starred review))

“Araton is the perfect writer for the job. . . . [ When the Garden was Eden] a must for basketball fans and a super-must for New York sports nuts.” (Kirkus Reviews)

From the Back Cover

The late 1960s and early 1970s, in New York City and America at large, were years marked by political tumult, social unrest—and the best professional basketball ever played. Paradise, for better or worse, was a hardwood court in Midtown Manhattan.

When the Garden Was Eden is the definitive account of how the New York Knickerbockers won their first and only championships, and in the process provided the nation no small escape from the Vietnam War, the tragedy at Kent State, and the last vestiges of Jim Crow. The Knicks were more than a team; they were a symbol of harmony, the sublimation of individual personalities for the greater collective good.

No one is better suited to revive the old chants of “Dee-fense!” that rocked Madison Square Garden or the joy that radiated courtside than Harvey Araton, who has followed the Knicks, old and new, for decades—first as a teenage fan, then as a young sports reporter with the New York Post, and now as a writer and columnist for the New York Times. Araton has traveled to the Louisiana home of the Captain, Willis Reed (after writing a column years earlier that led to his abrupt firing as the Knicks’ short-lived coach); he has strolled the lush gardens of Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s St. Croix oasis; discussed the politics of that turbulent era with Senator Bill Bradley; toured Baltimore’s church basement basketball leagues with Black Jesus himself, Earl “the Pearl” Monroe; played memory games with Jerry “the Brain” Lucas; explored the Tao of basketball with Phil “Action” Jackson; and sat through eulogies for Dave DeBusschere, the lunch-bucket, 23-year-old player-coach lured from Detroit, and Red Holzman, the scrappy Jewish guard who became a coaching legend.

In When the Garden Was Eden, Araton not only traces the history of New York’s beloved franchise—from Ned Irish to Spike Lee to Carmelo Anthony—but profiles the lives and careers of one of sports’ all-time great teams, the Old Knicks. With measured prose and shoe-leather reporting, Araton relives their most glorious triumphs and bitter rivalries, and casts light on a time all but forgotten outside of pregame highlight reels and nostalgic reunions—a time when the Garden, Madison Square, was its own sort of Eden.

Customer Reviews

Great book, very informative regarding that time in Knicks history.
mary
It's unfathomable today to consider the New York Knicks as a great basketball team.
Trevor Seigler
Told with passion, insight and superb reporting by the first-rate Harvey Araton.
bluffer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Peter Hillman on October 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is simply such a fascinating, insightful and intelligent new treatment of great times, and one that succeeds on so many levels. I freely confess to getting goosebumps again, 40 years after being at these games, coming of age. Araton brings heroic people, events and swirling times back to life in a highly readable and always-perceptive manner.

On its most basic level, Araton scores in giving a thorough and at times riveting account of perhaps the greatest and most interesting New York pro sports team in living memory. All of the characters and epic sagas are here...Games 5 and 7; Cazzie and Clyde....Willis and his stiff walk of courage out of the tunnel just before the start of Game 7...Holzman shouting "See the ball!"; "Hit the open man!"...the thunder and lightning of the Garden crowd...18 in a row over Cousy in Cleveland...the trade for DeBusschere..Earl the Pearl, Jerry Lucas, Mike "Give One" Riordan....

But Araton transcends those Knicks and gives us fresh and revealing accounts of other great teams and players of the times: Oscar Robertson, leader of the players' union, perhaps the first to stand up to owners; Bill Russell and the Celtics, the Lakers of Chamberlain-Baylor-West. Araton reminds us why they and so many other players and teams were noteworthy. Together with his informed account of how the sport radically changed in these years, the pure-sports level should be a rewarding read for all sports fans.

Had the author stopped at that level, there would not be much to separate this book from many others about the era and the Old Knicks that make my library shelf groan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brian Maitland on July 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Who says there are too many books written about the '70s New York Knicks? After you read possibly the finest one ever on this very unique team, you definitely will be singing a different tune. The author proves there is no substitute for talent as this former Knicks beat reporter really knows his stuff.

He also does a very wise thing in updating us on the players, coaches, management, owners even other noted Garden employees, fans and the TV/radio crews on their lives both during and after the famous championship era of 1970-73. For example, who knew Walt Frazier lives far away from the New York spotlight on an island in the Caribbean, especially when we hear him on Knick broadcasts and still think he lives in New York City 365?

The one thing you do unusually get from the book was also how good the Knicks' main Eastern Conference rival, the Baltimore (not Washington yet) Bullets were and how the whole Earl Monroe trade came to be and why the Pearl was able to fit in so well with the team he did battle with over many regular season tussles and a few playoff series.

The author tacks on the game summaries from some of the key games in the era (the Knicks 18th straight record win vs. the Cincinnati Royals [held in Cleveland!] as well as three of the '70 and '73 Finals games vs. the Los Angeles Lakers).

It's hard to believe any writer could come up with something so fresh on a team that has been well documented in print but he has and for that all fans of basketball history should be thankful.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By William J. Deangelis on January 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a truly remarkable book. The subject, the "Old Knicks" of roughly 1969-1974, is an appealing one - especially to those of us fifty-somethings and sixty-somethings who lived and died with that wonderful and unique team. When I received this book as a gift I was pleased. I was more than content to relive the glories of that team retrospectively, to spend some time with a nice sports book, to enjoy a good read. What its author, Harvey Araton, offers however goes well beyond that. This is a sports book to be sure, but it is much more.

There are many good books about The Old Knicks. This one, I think, is clearly the best. First, Araton writes from a retrospective standpoint. That is a huge advantage which he uses for the most part brilliantly. Second, he is adept at providing the reader with in-depth details of the lives (both as they were then and as they are now) of many interesting people - members of the Old Knicks, their opponents, their fans, and a motley of others, including, of course, Spike Lee. This is no less than a book about very interesting people and a very interesting period in our cultural history. The narrative's retrospective point of view draws important distinctions between then and now, traces the lives of the featured characters up until the present, and interweaves all this with a deceptive ease which reveals far more than most sports books which pretty much stick to sports.

One point, I feel I must make: In one of those backcover blurbs, Robert Lipsyte likens Araton's skills as a writer to Earl "The Pearl" Monroe's skills as a basketball player. This is overstatement and, in a way, distracts from what ultimately makes Araton's writing so good. The Pearl's game was not only effective, but flambouyant.
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