Top positive review
There's more to the story
on December 31, 2016
The idea behind media interviews for books is to move product. It worked for at least one copy of "One on One."
I stumbled on John Feinstein's interview with Mike Francesa on the YES Network one day. I heard them talk for 20 minutes, and wasn't the least bit tempted to change the channel.
Feinstein has written some of the biggest-selling and best sports books in the last 30 years, starting with the fabled "Season on the Brink." At this point in his career, he explained how he wanted to tell some of the back stories involved collecting information for those books, as well as catch up with some of the subjects from relatively long ago.
Some of Feinstein's anecdotes were funny, some were poignant, some were surprising, but all were interesting.
Having now read the actual book, it's probably best to separate my reactions into professional and personal. On the professional side, there are many, many good stories here. It's probably as close as Feinstein will get to writing a full-blown autobiography, so it has a personal side to it. And all of the material doesn't deal with books; there's a gripping section about how Feinstein wound up in Kladno, Czechoslovakia,, one day being questioned by Czech authorities while talking to Michal Pivonka's mother for a newspaper article.
There's plenty of other good stuff here, though. If you are writing a book on golf, and Arnold Palmer invites you to his workshop for company when he works on clubs, you go. If you have the chance to have dinner with Tiger Woods, one on one, you go. Same with a late-night snack at Denny's with Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. There are plenty of other interesting characters here that readers of other Feinstein books will enjoy hearing from again.
Two books certainly shine through here as the author looks back. Feinstein probably would be the first to agree that a year with Bobby Knight at Indiana wasn't always "enjoyable," but it was always fascinating. Feinstein's book on the Army-Navy game, and the players in it, was clearly a labor of love. It's not surprising, then, that these might be his two best efforts.
Again, speaking professionally, there certainly will be plenty of people who haven't read all or most of Feinstein's books and thus won't identify as closely with some personalities. Therefore, this is more of a "second read." "One on One" also checks in at more than 500 pages, which is a lot of reading and might be overdoing it for some. Most sports fans, however, will find more than enough to keep themselves entertained.
As for me personally... I loved it. I plowed through it in a few days, couldn't wait to get back to it when I put it down.
One of the best parts of journalism for me is the chance to sit around with other reporters and compare notes, opinions and stories. It can make a morning hockey shootaround fascinating with the right mix. This is like sitting down with Feinstein and letting him talk about the greats and near-greats he's encountered.
"One on One" worked perfectly for me. I'm probably in the minority here, so I don't want to get anyone's hopes too high with a five-star rating. If you like Feinstein's other work, you'd join me in elevating the personal rating below from four to five stars.