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Open: An Autobiography Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 9, 2009
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Agassi has always had a tortured look in his eyes on the tennis court. In 1992, when he burst onto the world sports stage by winning the Grand Slam at Wimbledon, he looked like a deer in headlights. Nobody seemed more surprised and upset by his big win that day than he did. For good reason, too. Agassi hated tennis. This is the biggest revelation in his very revealing autobiography. Agassi has hated tennis from early childhood, finding it extremely lonely out on the court. But he didn’t have a choice about playing the game because his father drove him to become a champion, like it or not. Mike Agassi, a former Golden Gloves fighter who never made it professionally, decided that his son would become a champion tennis player. In militaristic fashion, Mike pushed seven-year-old Andre to practice relentlessly until the young boy was exhausted and in pain. He also arranged for Andre, age 13, to attend a tennis camp where he was expected to pull weeds and clean toilets. The culmination of all of this parental pushing came when Andre began winning as an adult. But it didn’t make him happy. Within this framework, Agassi’s other disclosures make sense. He had a troubled marriage to Brooke Shields that didn’t last. He developed a drug problem that sabotaged his career. He was insecure about everything. Only when Andre met tennis star Steffi Graf (whom he eventually married) did things begin to change. Readers will definitely cheer when Andre finally makes peace with the game he once hated and learns to enjoy it. --Jerry Eberle
“Insightful [and] exceedingly well-written . . . [Open] has the cadence and plotting of a good novel . . . The raw energy and emotion throughout are pure Agassi.”
-Newsday Top 10 Books of 2009
“Surprisingly candid . . . The baseline bad boy serves up his harrowing anecdotes with the same force he put behind every on-court ace.”
-Entertainment Weekly 10 Best Nonfiction Books of 2009
“Bracingly devoid of triumphalist homily, Agassi’s is one of the most passionately anti-sports books ever written by a superstar athlete.”
-The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2009
“Andre Agassi’s memoir is just as entrancing as his tennis game . . . By sharing an unvarnished, at times inspiring story in an arresting, muscular style, Agassi may have just penned one of the best sports autobiographies of all time. Check—it’s one of the better memoirs out there, period.”
-Sean Gregory, Time
“Not just a first-rate sports memoir but a genuine bildungsroman, darkly funny yet also anguished and soulful. It confirms what Agassi’s admirers sensed from the outset, that this showboat . . . was not clamoring for attention but rather conducting a struggle to wrest some semblance of selfhood from the sport that threatened to devour him.”
-Sam Tanenhaus, The New York Times Book Review
“A remarkable and quite unexpected volume, one that sails well past its homiletic genre into the realm of literature, a memoir whose success clearly owes not a little to a reader’s surprise in discovering that a celebrity one may have presumed to know on the basis of that haircut and a few television commercials hawking cameras via the slogan ‘image is everything’ emerges as a man of parts—self-aware, black-humored, eloquent.”
-Michael Kimmelman, The New York Review of Books
“[A] heartfelt memoir . . . Agassi’s style is open, all right, and his book, like so many of his tennis games, is a clear winner.”
-O, The Oprah Magazine
“Open describes [Agassi’s] personal odyssey with brio and unvarnished candor . . . His career-comeback tale is inspiring but even more so is another Open storyline. It could be called: The punk grows up . . . Countless athletes start charitable foundations, but frequently the organizations are just tax shelters or PR stunts. For Mr. Agassi helping others has instead become his life’s calling . . . Open is a superb memoir, but it hardly closes the books on an extraordinary life.”
-Jay Winik, The Wall Street Journal
“It’s both astonishing and a pleasure to report that Andre Agassi . . . has produced an honest, substantive, insightful autobiography . . . The bulk of this extraordinary book vividly recounts a lost childhood, a Dickensian adolescence, and a chaotic struggle in adulthood to establish an identity . . . While not without excitement, Agassi’s comeback to No. 1 is less uplifting than his sheer survival, his emotional resilience, and his good humor in the face of the luckless cards he was often dealt.”
-Michael Mewshaw, Washington Post
“Honest in a way that such books seldom are . . . An uncommonly well-written sports memoir.”
-Charles McGrath, The New York Times
“Probably the most candid sports autobiography ever written . . . A remarkably real, tell-it-like-it-is, record-breaking read.”
-Nancy Isenberg, The [Baton Rouge] Advocate
“Agassi weaves a fascinating tale of professional tennis and personal adversity . . . His tale shows that success is measured both on and off the court.”
-Doree Shafrir, New York Post
“Refreshingly candid . . . This lively, revealing, and entertaining book is certain to roil the tennis world and make a big splash beyond.”
“Enigmatic tennis great Agassi lays it all on the line . . . Agassi’s photographic recall of pivotal matches evokes the raw intensity of watching them from the stands. Lovers of the sport will also appreciate this window into the mind of a champion . . . An ace of a tale about how one man found his game.”
Top customer reviews
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Well, that was Andre Mark II. Andre Mark I was a different person and this autobiography tells the story of how he grew up - from living under a tough father in Las Vegas, to a punk rock prodigy under Nick Bollettieri in Florida and on to an "image is everything" meteoric career as a pro before crashing out and then climbing back to the top and creating wonderful memories of his clashes with Pete Sampras and others.
Life as a top athlete seems like it would be the best! Adulation, fame, fortune - It's all there for the taking. Andre does a great job of taking us behind the scenes and providing a reality check. Brutal training regimens, loneliness, incessant travel are the flip side of life at the top. Agassi's journey from precocious kid to mature adult is a great lesson for kids who want to reach the top of their sporting mountain as well as for their parents. I suspect that Mr. and Mrs. Agassi were happy that their tennis playing, tv commercial kid was just an actor - for Agassi knows the agony and the ecstasy of the journey.
The lasting impression of this book is a kid who had great sporting talent and withstood the test of time to become something more than an ex-jock. A family man and philanthropist - happily ever after!
What I really loved about him was the way he cherished friends and loved ones and how he'd go out of his way to be kind and loving to them. He was not happy playing tennis, but discovered the secret of life along the way: get out of your head and self-centeredness and love and help others. This is just a great guy in my opinion. It was fun to read about his tennis career (the childhood part wasn't fun...it was fascinating though), but it was his appealing, smart and funny personality that carried the book for me.
Highly recommended whether you're into tennis or not
As for Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both of whom criticized Agassi for his honesty about using drugs and questioned the veracity of his claims of physical and psychological abuse at the hands of his father and trainers, I only have this to say—you may have been Agassi's opponents, but you're not his friends. And neither of you could ever write a book as honest as this.