Synopses & Reviews
2012 National Jewish Book Award Winner
JEWISH JOCKS: AN UNORTHODOX HALL OF FAME is a timeless collection of biographical musings, sociological riffs about assimilation, first-person reflections, and, above all, great writing on some of the most influential and unexpected pioneers in the world of sports. Featuring work by today's preeminent writers, these essays explore significant Jewish athletes, coaches, broadcasters, trainers, and even team owners (in the finite universe of Jewish Jocks, they count!).
Contributors include some of today's most celebrated writers covering a vast assortment of topics, including David Remnick on the biggest mouth in sports, Howard Cosell; Jonathan Safran Foer on the prodigious and pugnacious Bobby Fischer; Man Booker Prize-winner Howard Jacobson writing elegantly on Marty Reisman, America's greatest ping-pong player and the sport's ultimate showman. Deborah Lipstadt examines the continuing legacy of the Munich Massacre, the fortieth anniversary of which coincided with the 2012 London Olympics. Jane Leavy reveals why Sandy Koufax agreed to attend her daughter's bat mitzvah. And we learn how Don Lerman single-handedly thrust competitive eating into the public eye with three pounds of butter and 120 jalapeño peppers. These essays are supplemented by a cover design and illustrations throughout by Mark Ulriksen.
From settlement houses to stadiums and everywhere in between, JEWISH JOCKS features men and women who do not always fit the standard athletic mold. Rather, they utilized talents long prized by a people of the book (and a people of commerce) to game these games to their advantage, in turn forcing the rest of the world to either copy their methods-or be left in their dust.
"This is an entertaining and enlightening collection of essays about the lives and exploits of many influential Jewish sports figures that gives the lie to the jokes about Jews and sports that have been told by everyone from Don Rickles to Jon Stewart. The 50 figures profiled by such writers as David Remnick and Deborah Lipstadt cover a wide range: Benny Friedman and Sid Luckman, who together 'invented the quarterback position as we know it' for the Chicago Bears; Barney Sedran, 'the shortest player ever inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame'; and Howard Cosell and Marvin Miller. Dahlia Lithwick observes Sandy Koufax perhaps the greatest Jewish sports hero ever, who stymied the New York Yankees' Mickey Mantle while leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the 1963 World Series. None of the essays are purely biographical or hagiographic the authors consistently deliver fascinating insights into the highs and lows of Jews in sports. Ron Rosenbaum, for example, notes that what Arnold Rothstein, the mob gambler blamed for fixing the 1919 World Series, 'reminds us about sport in America is that it has never been the pure refuge from everyday grimy and gritty realities like greed.'" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Marc Tracy and Franklin Foer have compiled JEWISH JOCKS: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame, essays on 'the most influential Jews in sports,' from athletes, coaches, and owners to broadcasters and statisticians. David Remnick, David Brooks, Jonathan Safran Foer, Jane Leavy, and Steven Pinker are among the heavyweight contributors. You'll laugh, you'll cry."--Publishers Weekly, Top 10 Sports Books Fall 2012
Editor's Choice: "Fifty well-written brief portraits."--The New York Times Book Review
"Jewish Jocks' ends up convincing you of its theme: The history of Jews in sports is, in important ways, the history of sports."--Will Leitch, Wall Street Journal
"A must for the bookshelf of any Jewish sports fan."-- Kirkus Reviews
"Belies the cheap punch line [to] prove that the Jewish sporting tradition is as rich as it is varied. Jewish Jocks features notable writers in peak form."--Sports Illustrated
"A skillful collection... through its sheer comprehensiveness, JEWISH JOCKS also makes the argument that the Jewish athlete isn't an anomaly."--Los Angeles Times
About the Author
Franklin Foer is editor of the New Republic
and a Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation. He is the author of How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at the New Republic. Previously, he was a staff writer at Tablet magazine; the blog he edited there, The Scroll, won the 2011 National Magazine Award.