Synopses & Reviews
In Body Politic,
David Shields looks at contemporary America through the lens of professional and college sports; the result is an unusually insightful and provocative book about Empire in denial.
The sporting arena is effectively our national cathedral, the place where we gather to study our national mythology. Shields relentlessly examines the way we tell our sports stories, both fictional and nonfictional; considers the kinds of athletes we choose as heroes; delineates the lessons and values we glean from sports; explores the intricate and telling relationships between athletes, coaches, fans, black and white players, immigrant and native players, male and female players, players and broadcasters, players and fans, players and advertisers...and in the process shows us the stories we Americans tell ourselves about the kind of people we believe ourselves to be.
Chapter by chapter, a portrait emerges of a country both in conflict with itself and in denial about the sort of nation it has become: an America that sees itself as simultaneously (and impossibly) the Best of All Possible Countries and a land of ceaseless rebellion. To read this book is to understand the essential mystery of America after 9/11 -- a country utterly at odds with itself, perpetually believing in its own restlessness as it settles back into the pillows of Empire.
"A thinking persons collection of sports essays.... pensive and shrewd... Shields [is] always stimulating." Kirkus Reviews
"Shields has carved out a singular place for himself as the poet of sports writing." Regina Hackett, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"Body Politic is an extremely intelligent book. David Shields is our most interesting and necessary writer about sports." David Guterson
"A wonderful book. Ive never been as big a sports fan as I am lately, and I think its partly due to ShieldsBlack Planet, and now this book, particularly the meditations on fandom, identification, and the satisfaction of clichés (both in the sports movies and in his beautiful compendium of broadcast-speakthe depth lurking in the clichés when we bring our identifying, yearning selves to them). Reading Body Politic, I'm restored unashamedly to my love of sports and of myself loving sports." Jonathan Lethem
"David Shields is a rare writer. In Body Politic, he brings together more stimulating ideas about sport and contemporary society than youll find anywhere else." Rick Telander
"David Shields offers us unique insights into the games we play, and how they fit into the warp and woof of American life. Body Politic is a great read, reflecting both the authors enthusiasm for sports and his disdain for the hype." Kevin Baker
"One of the very best books ever written about being American." Fred Moody
About the Author
David Shields is the author of seven previous books, including Black Planet: Facing Race During an NBA Season, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity, winner of the PEN/Revson Award; and Dead Languages: A Novel, winner of the Washington State Book Award.
Table of Contents
The Wound and the Bow: A Long Prologue
On the Need to Connect with Something Larger than Yourself
Fairy Tale of Reinvention and Escape
Words Can't Begin to Describe What I'm Feeling
Heaven Is a Playground
History of America, #34
How It Feels to Be a Problem
Myths of Place
A Little Euro Trash-Talk
Matsui Among the Americans
Bring the Pain
Being Random Is the Key to Life
42 Tattoos: An Epilogue
Read exclusive essays by David Shields from 2010