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The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game Paperback – September 17, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. As he did so memorably for baseball in Moneyball, Lewis takes a statistical X-ray of the hidden substructure of football, outlining the invisible doings of unsung players that determine the outcome more than the showy exploits of point scorers. In his sketch of the gridiron arms race, first came the modern, meticulously choreographed passing offense, then the ferocious defensive pass rusher whose bone-crunching quarterback sacks demolished the best-laid passing game, and finally the rise of the left tackle—the offensive lineman tasked with protecting the quarterback from the pass rusher—whose presence is felt only through the game-deciding absence of said sacks. A rare creature combining 300 pounds of bulk with "the body control of a ballerina," the anonymous left tackle, Lewis notes, is now often a team's highest-paid player. Lewis fleshes this out with the colorful saga of left tackle prodigy Michael Oher. An intermittently homeless Memphis ghetto kid taken in by a rich white family and a Christian high school, Oher's preternatural size and agility soon has every college coach in the country courting him obsequiously. Combining a tour de force of sports analysis with a piquant ethnography of the South's pigskin mania, Lewis probes the fascinating question of whether football is a matter of brute force or subtle intellect. Photos. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
From Bookmarks Magazine
As in Moneyball (**** July/Aug 2003), which chronicled the strategies behind the Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane, Berkeley-based author Michael Lewis takes a personal look at a complicated game in his newest nonfiction extravaganza. Just as they embraced Moneyball, critics eagerly wrap their arms around The Blind Side. It's much more than a treatise on football; it's an exploration of the limits of conventional thinking and how strategic changes affect the value of quick-footed behemoths. However, while most reviewers are positive, something holds them back. Maybe Lewis makes it all look too easy. Or perhaps, as The New York Times charges, he takes the easy route through a complicated set of stories. That he makes it easy for his reader to comprehendand enjoyis enough for most critics to give Lewis's latest a rousing cheer.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Top customer reviews
The only hesitation I have about the book is that I think it purports to be about Michael Oher, the high school and college phenom left tackle. In a lot of ways it is, but only to the extent that Lewis wanted to tell Oher's story. On the other hand, however, what Lewis is really exploring in this book is why and how a rich, white couple (Sean and Leigh Ann Tuoy) from one of the most segregated cities in America (Memphis) would become invested in young black kid who is ironically simultaneously almost impossible to notice and impossible to ignore.
In some ways, I think Lewis is interested in the Tuoys' investment in Michael as a person as is contrasted against the system's (Briarcrest High School Athletics Dept, Ole Miss University, and every other major college football program in the country, and the NFL). Everybody seems to want something from him, and that thing is immediately apparent and almost assured. But the Tuoy's were invested in him long before they realized just how good a player he was. In that sense, his incredible success seems to make their investment both charming and sincere.
Tough to admit (and Lewis doesn't address this at all, really) that I wouldn't have been interested in reading about the Tuoy's charity or Oher's luck had it not been for his incredible physical gifts. Maybe that's the real lesson of the book.
Born and raised in New Orleans before studying at Princeton and eventually trading bonds for Salomon Brothers, Lewis is a perfect candidate to tell this story because of his affection for the people of the American South. Although he goes into detail about the serious socioeconomic problems that divide up Memphis, and touches upon the shady dealings of college football recruiters, he shows us that the people associated with Briarcrest Christian School are huge-hearted people who love God and football and church, who treat their peers with respect and compassion. The Southern culture is completely different from the California bubble I've grown up in, yet I can't help but admire the Tuohy family, the athletic coaches, teachers, tutors, the principal, the social workers, and everyone else in the community who not only gave Michael a leg up but went the extra mile for their community in general, without any obvious personal gain.
Another incredible thing about this book, at least for me, was how cool it was when Bill Walsh and Bill Parcells and Nick Saban and Ed Orgeron made 'cameos' in the story, because these are people I would read about in the news or see making formal announcements at press conferences but never knew. So when Lewis writes about Saban's sharp suits and impeccable manners, Orgeron's barely intelligible drawl and nonstop enthusiasm, about a frustrated and disappointed Bill Walsh who couldn't even look into the eyes of his players on the flight home from a playoff loss, I was starry-eyed. These guys are celebrities to me, whom I admire for their passion and dedication to their craft.
Also, the occasional investment banking analogy was amusingly out of left field. Plus the book had a countless number of hilarious moments. These guys and gals may be serious business on the field and in the classroom, but they really know how to crack a joke or break the tension.
I watched the movie after reading the book and I was surprised at how accurate the filmmakers were at capturing the spirit of the people involved. For a casual movie fan, the film is enough, but if you like both the movie and football I cannot recommend this book enough.