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One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game Hardcover – December 5, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews



"One of the best sportswriters alive."―Larry King, USA Today

"Feinstein is the most successful sportswriter in America...He has the gift of re-creating events known to us all while infusing them with excitement, even suspense."―Jay Nordlinger, The Wall Street Journal

"Feinstein's genius is his ability to peel back several layers on the personalities involved...reminding you in the process that even the most obscure players have a story worth telling."―Sam Weinman, Golf Digest

"Fascinating...[Feinstein's] work, like that of the best American sports writers, is richly detailed and emotionally articulate...Feinstein's storytelling is so compelling, his understanding of the structural cruelties and emotional consequences of winner-takes-all competition so acute."―David Goldblatt, The Guardian --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

John Feinstein is the bestselling author of Moment of Glory, Are You Kidding Me?, Living on the Black, Let Me Tell You a Story, Caddy for Life, Open, The Punch, The Last Amateurs, The Majors, A Good Walk Spoiled, A Civil War, A Season on the Brink, Play Ball, Hard Courts, and two novels. He writes for Inside Sports, Golf, Tennis Magazine and Basketball America and commentates on NPR and CBS.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (December 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316079049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316079044
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #708,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Peter Hillman on December 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A long-time John Feinstein fan, I eagerly awaited "One-on-One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game," especially after hearing the author interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air" last week. He told some fascinating stories about McEnroe, Woods, Capriati and others that we ordinary folks can't glean from the mainstream media. Such intimate telling, one could hope, would let us in on what makes some of our sports greats tick; and, what they, and Feinstein, think of the outsized roles they and their sports have come to play in our society.

This, sadly, is not that book. The title is a complete misnomer.

This book, rather, as Feinstein states clearly in his Introduction, is "a trip through reporting my first ten books, bringing me--and the reader--up to the present day." What's more, although the author adds: "This isn't meant to be a memoir," to this reader, the book most definitely has the pace, tone, look, structure and content of a memoir. There is very little "one-on-one behind the scenes," and hardly any that reveals something more interesting than what kind of tennis racquet someone used, or how nobly Bill Buckner owned up to an error.

Taking the book as the memoir it really is (and a very shallow one at that), other Feinstein fans surely will enjoy reading recaps of the author's long and up-and-down relationship with his "mentor," Bobby Knight, leading to the break-through book "A Season on the Brink"; his encounters with other great college basketball coaches; his passion for professional tennis and golf (also resulting in splendid books); his experience reporting on Army-Navy.
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Format: Hardcover
Memorable moments and unforgettable people during a ten-book journey...thus far...featured in an eleventh book

Others have their reasons for holding this book in high regard. Here are three of mine. First, with all due respect to the celebrities in sports with whom John Feinstein has been directly associated (e.g. Bob Knight, Mike Krzyzewski, John McEnroe, Arnold Palmer, Dean Smith, and Tiger Woods), I enjoyed even more being introduced to others who offer unique insights into the sub texture of "the thrill of victory ...and the agony of defeat," a tag line associated with the ABC's Wide World of Sports program on television (1961-1998). They include Steve Alford, Damon Bailey, Jim Cantelupe, Steve Kerr, Christina and Derek Klein, Esther Newberg, George Solomon, and Ted Tinling. For reasons best revealed in the book, each is a major contributor to Feinstein's personal growth and professional development.

Also, I really appreciate sharing Feinstein's perspectives on what he enjoys most (and least) about his career in sports journalism thus far, especially his take on what it is like to have access to so many major events, scrambling to make both domestic and international travel connections, and coping with hamster-brained "officials" who deny access (i.e. handlers, gatekeepers, security guards). What did he learn (and from whom did he learn it) about how to manage the logistics of travel, access, accommodations, food, rest and relaxation, and aspects of extensive travel?

Finally, there are his thorny relationships with various people, notably with Bob Knight, but also with Jim Courier, Rick Pitino, Bobby Valentine, Jim Valvano, and Tiger Woods. Eventually, he seems to have achieved mutual (albeit somewhat grudging) respect with each.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't know of a writer who has been on the scene at more major sporting events than John Feinstein -- Final Fours, World Series, Wimbledons, U.S. Opens (tennis and golf), and many more. "One on One" takes us back through 25 years of encounters with the biggest names in sports, and it's an amazing journey.

Of course, names are "dropped." Would you expect him to leave out all the interesting people? Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe, and the rest each changed his or her sport in some way -- good or bad -- and Feinstein's encounters with them make for a great read.
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Format: Hardcover
As a long-time John Feinstein fan, I was really looking forward to reading this book. However, I found the title to be a bit of a misnomer. There was very little sitting down "one on one" with any greats, and a lot of the interviews were simple rehashed stories. Now, there were some new stories as well, which were good, but on the whole, I felt like he drifted a bit from the purpose of the book. He seemed to make too may stories about him, which was annoying.

I have read every one of Feinstein's books, and I absolutely loved them all. Very insightful, you could tell how much work he put into the interviews, etc. Having said that, I feel like I walked away from One on One with very little new information. Now, when he was describing his research on the Majors, his '99 book, he was talking about how he was scheduled to sit and interview Tiger, and as I was reading this, I though, "hmmm, I remember Tiger was hardly mentioned in that book, and I always wondered why." Then he proceeded to tell the backstory in One on One, about how Tiger couldn't forgive JF for writing many bad things about his Father in the past, and it was nice, fresh information. The backstory on A Season on the Brink was also very insightful; how it came to pass, the fallout with Knight in the intervening 25 years, it was a fascinating story.

But sadly, these are few and far between. Too many rehashed interviews, it was almost as if he couldn't figure out what to do for his next book, so he just threw this together. Yes, there were untold interviews with Payne Stewart, Ivan Lendl (did anyone honestly care about the tennis portion? It's beyond a dead sport) etc, but they weren't all that interesting.
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