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The Meaning of Sports: Why Americans Watch Baseball, Football, and Basketball and What They See When They Doby Michael Mandelbaum
Synopses & Reviews
In The Meaning of Sports, Michael Mandelbaum, a sports fan who is also one of the nation's preeminent foreign policy thinkers, examines America's century-long love affair with team sports. In keeping with his reputation for writing about big ideas in an illuminating and graceful way, he shows how sports respond to deep human needs; describes the ways in which baseball, football, and basketball became national institutions and how they reached their present forms; and covers the evolution of rules, the rise and fall of the most successful teams, and the historical significance of the most famous and influential figures such as Babe Ruth, Vince Lombardi, and Michael Jordan. Whether he is writing about baseball as the agrarian game, football as similar to warfare, basketball as the embodiment of post-industrial society, or the moral havoc created by baseball's designated hitter rule, Mandelbaum applies the full force of his learning and wit to subjects about which so many Americans care passionately: the games they played in their youth and continue to follow as adults.
By offering a fresh and unconventional perspective on these games, The Meaning of Sports makes for fascinating and rewarding reading both for fans and newcomers.
"Mandelbaum embellishes the subject with so many fresh ideas, clever insights and bits of anthropology that The Meaning of Sports is not only fascinating but enormously entertaining." Fred Barnes, The Wall Street Journal
"In its way, Mr. Mandelbaum's book can help explain America to Americans, but it is also a subtle extension of his own expertise in foreign policy. It can help explain the United States to the rest of the often-baffled world." Pete Hamill, The New York Times
"[C]olloquial and readable... when Mandelbaum is explaining how the games men play reflect the society we live in, he is at his best." Washington Post Book World
"[A] witty tour de force of cultural anthropology." New York Newsday
"A sports fan who also happens to be a pre-eminent foreign policy thinker, Mandelbaum goes deep into the American psyche." Atlanta Journal Constitution
"[A] delightful new book." Thomas Friedman, New York Times
"[Mandelbaum] is clearly a smart man, clearly a sports fan, and has done admirable research on his topics." The New York Daily News
"If Alexis de Tocqueville were to return to life and write a book about US sport, this would be the book he would produce." Financial Times
"A marvelous piece of work. This will be of interest to the entire spectrum of our society. A true history of sport." Bill Walsh, Former Coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Book News Annotation:
Mandelbaum (international studies, The Johns Hopkins U.) offers both devoted fans and non-fans an analysis of the origins, development, and social functions of sports in America. Coverage includes the human purposes served by organized athletic competitions; the rise of organized team sports at the end of the 19th century; the origins and development of each of the three major American sports—baseball, football, and basketball—and why they emerged as the country's own distinctive set of team sports; the different social functions of the three sports and their relationships to American cultural values; the evolution of rules; and the historical significance of the most famous and influential American sports figures.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
One of the nation's preeminent foreign policy thinkers--who's also an avid sports fan--examines America's century-long love affair with team sports, offering a fresh and unconventional perspective on baseball, basketball, and football.
About the Author
Michael Mandelbaum is the Christian Herter Professor of American Foreign Policy at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and the author of eight previous books, including The Meaning of Sports and The Ideas That Conquered the World: Peace, Democracy and Free Markets in the Twenty-first Century.
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