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Showing 1-10 of 216 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 560 reviews
on May 20, 2015
I had never seen either the movie or the television show, and frankly don't remember how I stumbled across this book. I wanted something different and thought provoking to read during my vacation, and this book did not disappoint. I couldn't put it down.
I was never a jock in high school, nor was I particularly interested in sports until well into my adult years when I developed an appreciation for football. I now enjoy following both my Big Ten college team as well as a select few professional football teams.
Rather than being a glorification of high school football jocks and their rabid fan following,this book is clearly a zeitgeist of Texas High School football, not only in the 1980's but, more than likely, currently as well.
Told with clear, honest rhetoric, this work of non-fiction accurately represents the history of the Permian High School Football team from Odessa TX during their 1988 season. As the reader, I felt both the euphoria of their wins as well as the anxiousness of the coaches and players in striving to take their talented team all the way to a state championship.
What was particularly interesting in the book was the history of high school football in this town/region/state that Bissinger so clearly describes, with no judgement or criticism on his part.
Not a good book choice for those looking for the "Hollywood" version of the story, it is an excellent read that, taken in its originally published context, would have been better suited for a documentary.
Even those who are not football fans would enjoy this book
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on August 11, 2017
I thought this was a great read. It is not like the movie at all which is a drama/fictional representation of the people in the book. The book really highlights what was and is still wrong with high school football. As a non-native Texan in Texas, it was fascinating to read a lot of the history and struggles of West Texas towns and the cyclic nature of the oil industry. To a great extent, high school football in Texas was driven by the socio-economic conditions created around different oil booms - this book covers that from an inside perspective. Even though this was originally written in the late 80's it could have easily been written today. I could not put it down.
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on March 8, 2016
I devoured this book. The writing style is smart, quick and comes across as a person living in the city he profiled (which he did). It's unfortunate the things that are uncovered in this book regarding how much corruption goes on to keep the football team winning. The good thing about this book is that while it reveals how s***ty high school football truly is, the author doesn't paint the town, teachers, coaches, parents and students as awful. Rather they are presented as being caught up in something bigger than themselves, which in a way they are. I imagine that the majority of people involved with the football program wouldn't stand for most of the things that happened, but when you put them together, collectively their conscience is lost and the only thing that matters is winning. I would recommend this book to anyone, whether they like sports or not.
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on April 11, 2017
Great read. Writer does come across a bit too liberal while visiting a rural area. I can see how the community felt somewhat taken back by this book. I think he did a good job, but included a few liberal jabs that seemed out of place in the story.
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VINE VOICEon June 27, 2016
After reading Friday Night Lights, I certainly understand why the author may have felt trepidation in going back to Odessa Texas because he doesn’t pull any punches. One will just have to gather all the evidence on whether he misquoted people or potentially did worse and make up their own mind. I think what is clear is that this football team was a glorified institution for this town that often did not have much to cheer about sometimes.

At think at the end of the day, it is a very human story of a longing for something greater than the previous generation had or wanting something greater for yourself. Yeah the town comes across as prejudiced (in a most charitable reading) and the football team more like an athletic cult of sorts that shapes and molds people to the institution and leaves them wandering after it tosses them out after senior year. But wrapped in all this, are the very human elements that are striving for something better and see it in this jewel in the rough of a football team.

In sum, Friday Night Lights is a quick read that goes way beyond football to say something about the human condition.
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on March 2, 2016
This book is ostensibly a chronicle of the football season of the Permian high school football team in 1988 but it’s really more of a journalistic and sociological x-ray of the small town of Odessa, Texas and it’s numerous problems and conflicts, ranging from the athletic to the racial to the economic. Bissinger moved into the football-crazed town and closely observed the season, walking away with tons of insight and observations on the American character from this one small town. Throughout most of the book, football plays a role as a filter through which almost everything else passes, from racial animosities to academic performance and discipline issues in school. It even influences the family relationships of many of the people described. The book is something of a classic and considered one of the best sports books of all time, which is ironic because while reading the book, despite the structure being beholden to the unfolding football season and ensuing playoff games, it’s the people and the life of the town that the book seems really to be about, and not so much the football games. They’re ever-present, exerting their influence - some good, some bad - on everything but they’re not the point. This is a work of journalism with a football theme that’s just one theme among many others.
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on October 2, 2012
"Friday Night Lights" is an expertly crafted book, and because the author was permitted complete access to the town of Odessa and to its football team Permian High the book is also laden with drama.

"Friday Night Lights" is a book about a town's football obsession, and how it colors everything in the town, how the townspeople see issues of education, race, gender, and class. Because of football, the people in the prosperous suburb where Permian High is located is willing to accept desegregation because it has become a channel to supply the football team with black running backs. And because of football the school is willing to sacrifice academic standards for all its students in order to make sure that the few football jocks can pass each class with a 70.

The author has tremendous empathy for the football players. They are brave and heroic young men who are sacrificing themselves in the great football machine that is Permian High. The black football players know they're only being tolerated because they play football, and the white football players know they're worshipped because they play football. Take football away, and they'll no longer have access to the free meals and booze, easy grades and girls that are the hallmark of their lives. But football also means that they'll never become more than football players -- unable to prove themselves in other arenas as they have so aptly proved themselves on the football field.

The best part of the book is about Carter High, the all-black Dallas team that defeated Permian in the state semi-finals. Much more so than Permian they sacrificed everything to make it to the top. Teachers blatantly cheated on behalf of the football players, and when one teacher rose up and defied the system it caused a major political controversy that attracted national attention -- but ultimately the system won, and the whistle-blower teacher was chewed out and thrown out. And because the system protected the Carter football team the team in turn thought they were invincible, and they started robbing banks for kicks. When arrested, the team's two star players -- both who had been granted football scholarships -- were thrown in jail for twenty years.

High school football is ultimately meant to be a celebration of the athletic prowess of youth. But as this book so brilliantly demonstrates high school football is just another form of child exploitation, and the ultimate losers in this game are the children themselves.
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on February 24, 2017
Friday Night Lights describes more than just a football citizenry. The book details the influence cultural shifts have on a certain population's morale and life style. Culture can be identified as "the way things are done." The author's research and writing style convey both personal credibility and an understanding of those times, whether the setting is the locker room, the football field, or the oil boom. Well done.
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on May 19, 2015
You will come away knowing at least two very important things about Texas: when an oil boom is on, people go a little mad. When the boom is off, they get a little sad. But through it all, the one thing they can count on is high school football. Players are fed into the Permain football system not unlike soldiers sent off to war. So long as they perform and are on track to win state, nothing more is expected of them, especially not keeping up their test scores. But as soon as that knee gives out and your dream of playing in the pros is lost forever, don't look for any favors. The percentage of players who actually make the pros is staggeringly low, but so long as the dream exists, the boys will come, and on Friday nights, the entire town will come to see them under the lights.
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on August 24, 2015
I had heard a lot about this book but finally got around to reading it and wasn't disappointed. Absolutely engrossing and almost like a suspense thriller - couldn't stop turning the pages to find out what happens to these boys on the Permian football team. I hadn't seen the movie or the TV show so I didn't know.
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