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The Ball: Discovering the Object of the Game Paperback – May 15, 2012
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Frequently Bought Together
“Anybody who has ever thrown, caught, bounced, hit (or whiffed) a ball will mightilyenjoy John Fox’s stories of where all these balls came from, and why, from our earliestdays, they have been such an integral part of the very fun that makes us human.” (Frank DeFord, author of The Old Ball Game)
“[In THE BALL], a realm of behavior that we take for granted is seen anew in all of its original strangeness. The ball itself—whether made of grass and beeswax, opossum pelts, kangaroo scrotums or seal hides—is depicted freshly as an extraordinary invention of human happiness.” (Will Blythe, The Wall Street Journal)
“John Fox is dauntless…The Ball is a fascinating read that – like a good ball game – is both compelling and fun.” (Wired)
“John Fox is equal parts historian, anthropologist, world traveler, sports nut, and storyteller. The Ball is a fascinating exploration not just of the games we play but why we play them—of what our ballgames tell us about ourselves.” (William Landay, New York Times bestselling author of Defending Jacob)
“A fun and anecdotal new book…which uses the evolution of the ball itself to trace mankind’s progress from prehistory through ancient Egypt and gladiatorial Rome to the births of modern sports like tennis and “base-ball.” (New York Post)
“In tracing the fascinating history of ball games — from the primal contests between prehistoric tribes playing with stuffed balls of grass, to the hypercommercialized violence of twenty-first-century Super Bowls — readers witness the evolution of more than just sports…A book for fans and scholars alike!” (Booklist)
“An anthropologist and freelance journalist debuts with a peripatetic analysis of our ball games — where they came from, how they evolved and why we love them. Fox darts around the globe to show us the origins of our games…crackerjack reporting crackles throughout.” (Kirkus)
About the Author
John Fox has excavated ancient ball courtsin Central America, traced Marco Polo's route acrossChina, and bicycled Africa's Rift Valley in search ofhuman origins. He has contributed commentary to VermontPublic Radio as well as Smithsonian, Outside, andSalon, among other publications. He lives in Boston.
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Top Customer Reviews
I love the way Fox weaves in stories of particular individuals who represent something important about a sport's development, such a Yale footbal player and later coach Walter Camp, who did so much to shape football into the game we know now and Charles Naismith, the inventor of basketball. And it's amazing how many "modern" problems in sports -- such as concern over excessive violence and worry about sports being a distraction from more important things -- have been around for centuries.
Fox introduced me to some pretty wild sports I knew nothing about, too, such as the ancient game of Ba' in the Orkney Islands and ulama in Central America. It's fascinating to discover the roots of our modern games, and to see just how long people have been playing with balls and taking their play very seriously.
This is a great read that will give you lots of tidbits about sports to trot out at the bar and impress your friends!
Military and Political Leader Dwight D. Eisenhower said "I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it." Political Leader Nelson Mandela said "It always seems impossible until it's done." Anthropologist Margaret Mead said "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
If the Native Americans described in "The Ball" could use lacrosse to settle disputes, should modern political leaders consider using the existing vast array of modern sports as tools to push war into a decline supported by the billions of modern humans who share the same dream?
John could make a ball of string interesting. He has a very deft way of weaving together history, emotion and competition in a manner that makes you marvel. And best of all for me, John let's us all know, as he says, that it is good "We all play," good we all need to play ball in some manner, and are better for it in our professional and personal lives.
Hold my comments to a high standard, since I know John, but I'll bet you'll agree with me after reading the book.
A former Washington Post Columnist
I enjoyed his unique archaeological perspective and his attention to historical accuracy. I also enjoyed his inclusion of sources at the end of the book. I did not have to go far to find my summer reading list this year.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
this was required for a college english class i took my senior year and words can't describe how much i hated this book.Published 11 months ago by capm_crunch
A fascinating read for anyone interested in the history of sports, both nationally and, especially, internationally.Published 22 months ago by Highlander
A fascinating looking at ball games and the relationship to human society and its development.Published on July 13, 2014 by Frederick L. White
I am a kinesiology major who chose to read this book. Really good book, inspiring too. I'd recommend to anyone who loves to read.Published on February 2, 2014 by Daisyflower
I brought as a gift. After bill started reading it, he was commenting several times about how interesting the book was. great read. great giftPublished on January 30, 2014 by Jane collier
Didn't have a lot of information about the Mayan ball game, Ulama, and its variants but still a good book.Published on January 4, 2014 by James Griest
The entire concept intrigued me, "why do we play ball?" Easy to read and an intriguing look at the communality of playing with a sphere around the globe.Published on October 30, 2013 by C Eastman
some chapterts are really great, especially about the Scottish Ba' great read fir sports lovers, gets a little long in places, but overall greatPublished on August 29, 2013 by william r burke