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The Agony of Victory: When Winning Isn't Enough Hardcover – October 15, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Friedman brings together essays written over the last 20 years into a fascinating anthology. The individual pieces concern sports as varied as bowling, cycling, basketball, boxing, and golf, but they are linked by a common theme: the pursuit of excellence as a path to self-destruction. For example, take Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree, a man so determined to excel that he built his own bike (out of washing-machine parts and other scrap metal) and pitted himself against the giants of the sport. He won, too, and kept winning until cycling's regulating body changed its rules to prevent him from competing; so he changed his technique, and they changed the rules again. Finally, after he started coughing up blood months after a race, his career came to a close. His story—and the book is full of stories just like his—perfectly illustrates the physical and psychological toll that the drive to win can take on a person. An apt counterpoint to the multitude of winning-is-everything books, this one says that winning is nice, but it isn't everything (and maybe, in some cases, it can be lethal). Pitt, David

About the Author

Steve Friedman is the author of four books, including Driving Lessons and The Agony of Victory, and the co-author of two New York Times best sellers, including Eat & Run. He has written for Esquire, GQ, Outside, The New York Times, New York, Bicycling and Runner’s World. His stories have been published in The Best American Sports Writing, The Best American Travel Writing and many other anthologies. Friedman grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, attended Stanford University, and lives in New York City. Visit Stevefriedman.net. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing; 1 edition (October 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559708514
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559708517
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,824,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a collection of the text of 14 of Friedman's articles that he wrote for various magazines and gathered here for a book. You can tell that some of the articles were kind of a stretch to fit within the scope set by the title of the book (an essay about going to play golf with your dad? An OK story, but it has nothing to do with "Champions, and the price they pay for glory"). Some articles were very good, but the whole was not cohesive. The relevant stories seem to boil down to an unstable athlete pushing him/herself beyond normal limits due to mental illness or some kind of rough childhood, and/or self destructing afterward. It's interesting, and an easy read, but not really what I was expecting.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is more than just about sports. It's about humanity and the reasons why some people push themselves beyond their limits. The book talks about athletes in various sports and their struggle, triumphs and eventual downfall. I bought this book because I can relate to it. As someone who suffered through a rough childhood, I never felt good enough and I was always trying to prove myself. Eventually I got into competitive running. It became an obsession. I pushed myself through inordinate amounts of pain as a way to prove to others and ultimately to myself that I was good enough, but what I found out as all the athletes profiled in this book was that even winning wasn't enough. It's a good book worth reading, especially if you can relate in some way to what these athletes went through.
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Format: Hardcover
... so much so that I am giving them to my athletically inclined friends and family for Christmas. But sports are only the hook. These stories are really about what it means to be human, whether it is flawed, transcendent, tortured, loved, reviled or just plain crazy - all of it. Steve is just flat out a great writer, so every story worked for me on some level. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I wish Steve would do volume two. I hated to see it end. The juxtaposition of eclectic story lines really makes it work. It's a perfect gift for the thinking sports fan. I'm giving three this Christmas.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Though not every story is compelling, all are worth reading and the best are very engaging.

The story on Scottish cyclist Obree is especially well done and nicely complemented by the film "The Flying Scotsman."
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