From Publishers Weekly
In this detailed account of a sport few Americans know much about, Zug, a former Dartmouth squash player and freelance writer, intersperses throughout his narrative elements of surprise with analogies and references to draw readers into this unfamiliar terrain. For instance, he begins by explaining that squash, known primarily as an elitist endeavor reserved for prep schoolers and yuppies, developed in London's Fleet Prison in the early 1800s. But Zug makes squash relevant by capturing an interesting parallel between the game and American social movements as he details squash's evolution from the pastime of America's most exclusive universities and clubs to the emergence of women on the American squash scene in the 1920s and America's fitness obsession in the late 1970s and '80s, which made the game accessible to the middle class and brought squash courts to every neighborhood YMCA from coast to coast. Furthermore, realizing that a sport is only as compelling as its champions, Zug presents colorful bios of the game's best and most eccentric players, including college dropout and Deadhead Mark Talbot, John McEnroe-like Victor Niedhoffer (who retired in his prime to protest the sport's anti-Semitic stance in the 1960s) and Roshan Khan (from a famous squash family, his "lusty" lifestyle led Ted Kennedy to say he came from the "Irish part of Pakistan"). While only squash fanatics will find this detailed work a must read, Zug's passion for and knowledge of the game make this a unique addition to the library of sports histories.
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Who would have thought squash, the game in which a little ball is smashed into a wall with racquets, could be so endlessly fascinating, so steeped in culture and history? Zug, a longtime squash player, begins in the 1500s, when tennis was all the rage. But by the early 1700s, there were variations of the game, including one called racquets, created by inmates in the Fleet, a British debtors' prison. From there we move smoothly on to the 1800s, when students at elite Harrow School, just outside London, transmuted racquets into the game we now call squash. The author charts the modern history of squash--from the 1860s to the present day--with gusto, introducing us to dozens of the game's best and most flamboyant players (best
seem to go hand-in-hand in squash circles), explaining why this seemingly simple game is among the most subtle and hard-to-learn sports. It's one of those books about a very specialized topic that somehow turns out to be surprisingly readable even for those unfamiliar with the subject. David PittCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved