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To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever: A Thoroughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the Duke-North Carolina Basketball Rivalry Paperback – January 9, 2007
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An exceptionally entertaining parable in defense of good, healthy, all-American loathing.... an animosity the whole family can share. (New York Post)
The best book about politics I´ve read since All the King´s Men ... it’s about basketball [like] Moby Dick is about whaling. (Hartford Courant)
“A revelation.... an elegant testament to the way pastimes are far more than ways to pass the time.” (Publishers Weekly (signature review))
“The kind of sportswriting that comes along so rarely you can count the classics on one hand . . . read this book.” (Play (New York Times Magazine sports supplement))
“Blythe seduces with his story of Southern identity...passed down from fathers to their roaming sons...raucous, tender, and fierce.” (Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, author of "Random Family")
“The best book on basketball I have ever read ... destined to become a classic of sports literature.” (Pat Conroy)
“Not since Exley’s A Fan’s Notes has anyone produced such a graceful and elegiac evocation of place, family, and sport”. (Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead)
Goes far beyond the facile John Feinstein “inside a season” formula ... [Blythe] writes amusingly, self-deprecatingly and often beautifully. (New York Times Book Review)
Blythe writes like a wizard ... Even if college basketball isn’t your obsession, you’ll get caught up in this. (Elle)
About the Author
Will Blythe is the former literary editor of Esquire. A frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review, he has written for the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Elle, and the Oxford American, and is the editor of the acclaimed book Why I Write. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Sportswriting. He grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and now lives in New York City.
- Item Weight : 10.4 ounces
- Paperback : 363 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780060740245
- ISBN-13 : 978-0060740245
- Product Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.86 x 8 inches
- Publisher : Harper; Reprint Edition (January 9, 2007)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 0060740248
- Best Sellers Rank: #640,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I started this book thinking that it would be a more or less thoruough examination of the North Carolina-Duke basketball rivalry (after all, the subtitle is 'A Thoroughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the Duke-North Carolina Basketball Rivalry.' However, while author (and UNC fan) Will Blythe interviews several of the key players in the UNC-Duke hatefest and documents the 2004-2005 season, he does not really do much to trace the roots of the rivalry.
Instead, this book is like a documentary of the 2004-2005 season for Duke and UNC, which resulted in UNC capturing its fourth national championship. The result is that recent incidents (like Shavlik Randolph's decision to go to Duke vice UNC) are overplayed while the deeper historical roots of the rivalry and the context in which the 2004-2005 season occurred with regards to the overall rivalry are downplayed.
That said, if you don't mind the occasional unexplained reference to the circle of hell to which UNC fans consign Christian Laettner, this book is extremely readable and insightful, particularly when it comes to the lesser known stars at both Duke and UNC during the 04-05 campaign. Blythe clearly got extraordinary cooperation from Melvin Scott and his family, which, while it doesn't really shed any light on the rivalry, is fascinating to anyone interested in the difficulties faced by today's players.
Blythe has blended together three elements to fill out the narrative structure of the basketball seasons - interviews with principals (Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Dean Smith, JJ Reddick, and others are all interviewed); accounts of some of the critical games of the season, including both Duke-UNC matchups, and the author's personal account of his history with the rivalry. This includes Blythe talking, at times for significant stretches, about his father's death, his mother's passion for the game, and other issues. If you are not someone who likes their authors interjected into nonfiction work, you will find this to be the most disappointing part of the book, though I thought these accounts blended in rather well with the main thrust of the book.
Blythe tries to place the rivalry and the importance of college basketball on some sort of larger conceptual field, not only by reiterating UNC's views on Duke (Northeastern elites who are carpetbagging to the south) and Duke's on UNC (hicks who will eventually be working for Dukies). However, most of Blythe's efforts to explain the depth of the passion for basketball in North Carolina are vague and uninteresting; Blythe's riffs on the deeper meaning of the rivalry are the most uninteresting parts of the book.
The bottom line is that Blythe is an excellent author and is easy to read - I raced through To Hate Like This in less than 4 days. However, he has produced an unfocused book that falls somewhere between his goal (apparently to write the definitive work on Duke-UNC basketball), a memoir of the Old South, and an account of UNC's championship run. If you are a fan of UNC in particular, you will enjoy this book. However, if you are a neophyte to the insanity that is the Duke-UNC rivalry, this book will likely leave you as confused as when you started.
This is a must read for anyone seeking to understand the trible mindset that is sports fanaticism. Those willing to laugh at themselves will enjoy it the most.
The Carolina-Duke is fierce for all of us on the outside, but you got an idea of what it is like in the area.
One of the more interesting parts was how much the players get along between the two teams.
I also need to state my bias: I grew up in Chapel Hill, ran track in high school with the author and graduated from UNC. But, I was not always a Duke hater. As Will explains so well in the book, Carolina's main rival was David Thompson and NC State when we were coming up. Duke was more of an annoyance than a program to be hated. It was not until the arrival of Coach K that the hating truly started. I even pulled for Duke in out-of-conference games until the early 1990's. My casual dislike evolved into quasi-hatred about the time that Danny Ferry became known as the dirtiest player in the ACC. Then came Christian Laettner and his very un-Christian like stomping of an opposing player as he lay helpless on the floor. Not to mention Coach K's foul mouth and constant carping at the officials. But mostly it is their spoiled brat obnoxious fans whose behavior is encouraged by such luminaries as Dook Vitale. Okay, enough venting.
Will Blythe's book is not just another sports book that chronicles big games and big plays. Perhaps it was fate that he started the book as UNC was on the verge of one of its best seasons ever and another national championship. His chronicles of the careers of the non-stars of that team, Melvin Scott and Jawad Williams, reminds us all of the fleeting nature of sports fame. But the 2005 season is just a convenient backdrop for the bigger story: why is there so much hate?
Native North Carolinians, like Will's father to whom the book is dedicated, dearly love our state. It has beauty, charm and tradition. To many of us, Duke University is just a collection of 20th century buildings made to look old for the elite to send their children who could not get into an Ivy league school. Less than twenty percent of the student body hails from North Carolina. Many of our neighbors view it as simply a place for Yankee interlopers to get their tickets punched before they go back to whence they came and enlarge their fortunes. We don't need them. They are not one of us. Duke's other athletic programs, except for women's basketball, are lame at best. Football is a joke. Their baseball program was terrible until the coach started pushing the players to take steroids. And don't even get me started about the lacrosse team, the grand jury has yet to convene. So, it all comes down to basketball and Coach K for Duke to have national prominence in college athletics.
It is interesting to note the players at the respective schools deeply respect each other and many are friends off the court. It is the fans that create the hate. Will goes into great anecdotal detail about why the animosity is so deep rooted by interviewing fans on both sides. The stories are poignant and occasionally pitiful when you consider how limited some people's lives are if college basketball has become their reason for being.
Where does hate start? My wife and I have done our best to bring our children up to be tolerant, open-minded, respectful and generous to all people. They have worked in food banks, served the homeless and helped build churches in impoverished countries. We hope this has lead to a greater appreciation for what they have and to respect all people. We have, however, clearly failed in one regard as our children cannot stand Duke basketball. Our oldest son heads off to Carolina next year and never had one thought of applying to Duke. A full scholarship would not have persuaded him to go there. He and his younger brother sit in front of the television yelling at JJ Redick as if the TV could somehow transmit their feelings up to the satellite and back down to JJ, imploring him to clank another twenty-six footer. To be even handed, I mentioned once that if I were trying to teach a child how to shoot a basketball properly I would use JJ Redick as a model, his form is so pure. Their response: "dad, why would you teach a kid to shoot forty times a game, it's a team sport."
Perhaps the hatred, like most prejudice, starts at home. Maybe it was a not-so-subtle comment on my part, a rec room filled with Carolina memorabilia, a less than kind word about Coach K, or a constant stream of praise about Carolina tradition and values. Even my wife who grew up in Ohio, a deacon in church, recoils at the sight of Coach K. Like the little boy Will describes who was told whom to root for by his big brother, our own family tradition continues. Reading Will's book helped me understand my own prejudices and that my feet are indeed made of clay. His portrayal of Coach K and Redick also allows me to like them just a little bit. If JJ's favorite album is Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska," he can't be all bad. It also reminded me of the importance of family and loyalty. Will's father would be very proud of this book.
Buy this book, you won't be disappointed.
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