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Ben Hogan: An American Life Hardcover – May 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Books; 1st edition (May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385503121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385503129
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 16.8 x 3.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 732,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By S. FENNY on 9 April 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What an amazing read. This is researched so well and adds to the works of Sampson and Gregston. I can't recommend this highly enough. It takes you through the dramas of Hogans childhood, the struggles of his early career, to the highs, the accident and amazing comeback and beyond. It is absolutely engrossing. You will not want to put it down and the only dissapointment you will experience is when it is over.
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By H. B. OWEN on 12 Feb. 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
great condition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 78 reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
An Extraordinary Biography That Anyone Can Savor 17 May 2004
By Bookreporter - Published on
Format: Hardcover
During the 1977 U.S. Open at Southern Hills in Oklahoma, sportswriter Dave Anderson asked golfer Tommy Bolt to compare the careers of Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan, two golfers who dominated previous decades of professional golf. Bolt's response was immediate. "Well," he drawled, "I've seen Nicklaus watch Hogan practice. I've never seen Hogan watch Nicklaus practice. Thus is the mystique of golfing legend Ben Hogan. He was the golfer's golfer, the man who other golfers sought to emulate. To capture the essence of a great man's life is a difficult task. BEN HOGAN: An American Life by James Dodson accomplishes that task in superb fashion. The biography is a homage to a man who overcame incredible obstacles to become the greatest golfer of his generation. It captures the essence and spirit of the sphinx-like man known to many as the Garbo of golf. Like all great biographies it builds on the life of its subject by allowing the reader to live in the Hogan era; to experience his accomplishments and share the disappointments of his life.
Those with even the slightest knowledge of golf history are familiar with the defining event in the life of Ben Hogan. In 1949, after having achieved stardom on the professional golf circuit, Hogan was nearly killed in a head-on collision with a Greyhound bus on a foggy two-lane Texas highway. Doctors feared for Hogan's life and doubted that he would ever walk again if he survived. Hogan not only recovered, but in 1950 he won the U.S. Open at Merion, a grueling physical feat that required Hogan to walk and play 36 holes of golf on the final Saturday of the tournament. Hogan's triumphant comeback was a story that Hollywood producers would reject as one that audiences would never believe.
Hogan's physical recovery in 1950 was not the first time that he overcame travail to achieve success in the golfing world. Dobson recounts several events that affected the bantam Texas golfer as he sought to achieve his goal of professional achievement and acceptance. As a young boy Hogan suffered a dark and terrifying event when his father committed suicide before his eyes. In today's Oprah confession society, Hogan would probably share such an event with a national audience. But in the post-depression era Hogan stoically kept the details of the incident to himself. Even his wife Valerie was unaware of the true facts concerning the death of Hogan's father until they had been married for many years.
Hogan was also required to overcome professional doubt as he attempted to succeed on the fledgling professional golf tour. It was not until his third attempt that he began to win with any regularity. Even though he won many tournaments, the goal of a victory in a major championship still eluded him. Three times he came to the final hole of a major event needing only to make a birdie putt for victory. Each time, he three-putted the final green to snatch defeat from potential victory. Through it all, the grim but dogged Hogan silently plodded onward, determined to become the greatest golfer in America. That he finally reached his goal was a tribute to his unremitting work ethic and self-reliance.
Any great biography is more than a story of one person's life. It must also be the story of those who touched the subject's life and the times in which the subject lived. BEN HOGAN: An American Life has all of these elements, and more. It is the story of Hogan and his wife Valerie, a woman as determined as her husband and perhaps equally as shy. She would travel with her husband to each tournament but could not bear to watch him on the course. She was with him in his car on the day of the accident, and his movement to shield her from the collision probably saved his life. She was his life partner who shared in his success.
James Dodson has also captured the essence of the early era of professional golf. The legends of golf in the 1930s and '40s all appear. Sam Snead and Byron Nelson who, in the public's eye, were everything Hogan was not, are an integral part of the story. Hogan's major championship victories, from the Masters to the British Open at Carnoustie, are recounted in detail. The reader is with Hogan for every critical shot and, like bantam Ben, probably reaches for a cigarette at a tense moment.
There is so much more of the life of Ben Hogan to experience in this extraordinary biography. Hogan was a unique and enigmatic man. Dodson has captured the true Hogan in this epic work. BEN HOGAN: An American Life is a book that golfers and non-golfers can savor. It is a must addition to any golfer's library and an inspirational saga of an American icon.
--- Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
If You Consider Yourself A Golfer - This is Required Reading 11 Jan. 2005
By John R. Linnell - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have to admit three things in the interest of full disclosure. One - I am an unabashed James Dodson fan - I have read everything he has written and have enjoyed them all. Two - If anyone other than James Dodson had written this book, I would have never read it. Three - I am now an unabashed Ben Hogan person, because I now know the story of his life which has been told in a truthful and powerful manner. I wish I had seen more of him and I wish that when I did see him on television that I would have appreciated what I was looking at.

James Dodson has written several books about his own personal experiences which have been well received and rightly so, especially the book, Final Rounds, which put him on the literary map. He was also Arnold Palmer's "co-author" for his auto-biography, a pleasant book and which achieved Jim's goal of having the reader feel that he had the chance to sit down and have a few Scotches with "The King."

In this book, he is working without a net. He has accepted the challange and the honor of being the family authorized biogapher of one of the greatest golfers of all time. In recreating "An American Life" he has devoted at least three years of his life to the research necessary to marshall the facts. Then he had to take the results of his research and do justice to the lives of Ben and Valerie Hogan. No easy chore.

In judging how succesful he was I have to only look at my perception of Hogan before I read the book. He was basicallly a name from the past. (I am 66) His greatest accomplishments were not on TV. He was said to be aloof. A loner. A perfectionist.

When he finally made it to TV, he was past his prime, but still playing well enough. He was a ghost hanging around in the early days of Palmer, Nicklaus and Player. He was a "black and white guy" in the early days of color TV.

James Dodson peels that all away and exposes the heart and soul of the man. He does it honestly. Warts and all. But the image that is left with the reader is one of wishing that you could have met him and if not that, watched him play at the height of his career and if not that, been able to share a lunch and a "see-through" with him at Shady Oaks.

If you consider yourself a golfer, you owe it to yourself to read this book. And you owe it to Ben Hogan.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A Specatular Biography 31 May 2004
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have read other Biographies on Ben Hogan but none are even in the same league. A subject with this much substance needed a more detailed view and this book delivers in a big way. I would rank this in-depth look into what some believe to be the best golfer ever to be one of the best stories ever told. With apologies to Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, I now believe that Ben Hogan is the best golfer of all the book, see what he went through, and decide for yourself.
Hogan was (and remains) one of the most enigmatic sports figures ever but the reader should come away with a different opinion of the man after reading the book. The level of detail is fabulous but the book is easily readable. I enjoyed this book more than I have enjoyed reading anything in years. I would never usually consider reading a book twice but this will probably change with this one. I would recommend this book to anyone, regardless of whether or not you are a golf fan but I know that any fan of golf will devour the book. This is a great American story...the epitome of what one can accomplish with an exhaustive work ethic and incredible perserverance...Hogan literally built an incredible career, became a permanent American icon, and ruled his sport like nobody had ever done...from scratch, out of the dirt. There are some great lessons in this book about the price to be paid to make it big. Read this book!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
An honest, compelling, literary accomplishment for more than just Hogan fans 4 Mar. 2006
By S. C. Garman-jr - Published on
Format: Paperback
As both an avid golfer, and Ben Hogan admirer, I was more than satisfied with this book. Once i turned the first page I couldn't put it down. The information shared on the life of who I consider to be the greates golfer ever is unparalleled. Although this will instantly become a cherished part of any Ben Hogan fan's book collection, anyone who enjoys American history, sports history, sports in general, and golf in particular, as well as those who like true stories of sucess against all odds, will enjoy this book. It's a well-written portrait capturing all the good and bad of Ben Hogan and his life, and there was plenty of both. Anyone who thinks they know anything about Ben Hogan the man owes it to themselves to read this book. As Arnold Palmer himself said of the book: "I thought I knew Ben Hogan pretty well, until this book came along...". If you were interested enough in this book to read the reviews, you should buy it. You will not regret doing so.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
An inspirational life 7 Mar. 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
As a golf professional and long time Hogan fan I was astounded at the information Dodson was able to present in his tome on Hogan. Many of the accepted standard practices in the golfing world and terminology originated with Hogan. 'Course management' is one Hoganism I wasn't aware of. A testament to the value of perseverance through holding an ambition for a long period of falling and getting up time and again, this book will inspire you and sadden you but ultimately keep you turning its pages.
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