- Paperback: 200 pages
- Publisher: Nordic Knight Pr (June 1, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0963846191
- ISBN-13: 978-0963846198
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #412,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Shell Game: Reflections on Rowing and the Pursuit of Excellence Paperback – June 1, 1994
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Focused on three specific events as it is, "The Shell Game" provides a look into a rarefied world of rowing races, from the hidebound tradition of Henley to the grueling trials at the U.S. Olympic selection camp, from the etiquette of international racing to the mechanics of testing athletes to determine not only their racing abilities but even their rate of oxygen exchange.
As with any memoir, there are those who will find the more personal passages a tad cloying, but overall it's a delightful book. Kiesling provides a particularly nice chapter ("The Set") on the tragic dichotomy of the physical and the intellectual that began in ancient Greece and still haunts us today. If ever there were an argument for their reunification, this would surely be one of the best. Definitely a keeper for future re-reading.
That said, the story of how John Terwilliger came to make the 1979 US National rowing team is itself worth the price of the book (even if you never read the rest of it). It can provide inspiration for anybody, even those who've never picked up an oar, and deserves to be become legend far beyond American boathouses. I don't think it's hyperbole to call it Campbellian (as in Joseph) in it's capacity to convey perseverance in a mythic structure (even though the story is in fact true!).