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High Strung: Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, and the Untold Story of Tennis's Fiercest Rivalry Paperback – 26 Jun 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (26 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062009850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062009852
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 133,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

“This is good stuff, and it’s written with flair. In fact, it made me want even more. ” (The Oregonian)

“A book full of aces...Even for those who know the outcomes of the many matches he recounts, Tignor’s descriptive prose and flair for dramatic writing make “High Strung” a true page-turner.” (Associated Press)

From the Back Cover

The golden age of tennis came crashing down suddenly at the 1981 U.S. Open when the stoical Swede, Björn Borg, lost to his brash young rival, John McEnroe, in the final at Flushing Meadows. Through the lens of that era's final tournament, and the play of the other semifinalists, Jimmy Connors and Vitas Gerulaitis, High Strung chronicles the lives and careers of the men who made those Wild West days of tennis so memorable: "Ice Borg," who secretly harbored an inner madman; McEnroe, the tortured, bratty genius; Connors, the game's beloved blue-collar anti-hero; Ilie Nastase, the Romanian clown; Gerulaitis, the New York charmer; and Ivan Lendl, who became a harbinger of tennis's high-powered future. The struggles these men shared were as compelling off the court as they were on.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By G. Davis on 31 Aug 2011
Format: Hardcover
I'm not sure that this story is untold; and with Federer and Nadal there may be other fierce tennis rivalries; but this is a compelling story well told. I didn't know just how good McEnroe was; but Borg obviously did, and the analysis of the mental side of McEnroe's effect on the Swede is particularly perceptive - McEnroe was the first player at Wimbledon to create seeds of doubt in Borg; and once implanted, their flowering became inevitable. Tennis requires an opponent in human form - golf requires a course and team sports acquire nemeses in team form; all different in their own way, but this tale works as a look at how mental disintegration works even when McEnroe was not deliberately trying it - his talent alone had the desired effect. Learn from that you sportsmen who practice the dark arts - the true greats achieve their status through sporting excellence.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JT on 15 July 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Book simply captures the golden era of tennis....wooden racquets and head bands...strawberries and cream..oh yeah plus Borg, McEnroe, Connors, Gerulatis, et al
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By SportsBioFan on 2 Jun 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading just the first few pages of this book, it was apparent that this would be a great account of the subject matter. As a lifelong tennis fan, and having read most tennis biographies/autobiographies that are available, I don't mind saying that this book has to be up there with 'Duel For The Crown' and 'Mr. Nastase' as among the best tennis books I have ever read.

The enjoyment of 'High Strung' is no doubt helped greatly with the rich subject material - there are a few books now which document the McEnroe-Borg rivalry, and with good reason - it is as Hollywood-scripted as any sporting rivalry can get. Most tennis fans, casual and hardcore alike, will know the basics about the two tennis legends and their fascinating encounters, in addition to their contrasts in playing style, demeanour and private lives.

What many people will not realise is just how much Borg and McEnroe had in common, and how tortured each was in their own way. The book unravels a comprehensive analysis on the zenith years of both their playing careers; set in the backdrop of the early professional era, and with a fine supporting cast of tennis contemporaries - Nastase, Gerulaitis, Connors, Tanner and the emerging Lendl. Author Stephen Tignor does a fantastic job with prose, sequential writing and most importantly, capturing the thrill of the 'golden era' of tennis, where these first professionals were more akin to rock stars than sportsmen.

Sandwiched between dying throes of the amateur game and the onset of the power players of the mid-eighties, the book also gives a fascinating account of the history of the tournaments that played a large part in Borg's and McEnroe's many duels, with everything segueing wonderfully to culminate in a rich history of tennis.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dermot on 14 Nov 2011
Format: Hardcover
It was nice to have the drama of that era brought back to life . A bit more about other players of the time than expected but overall worth having
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Coulton VINE VOICE on 2 Oct 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I recognise that this is a classic sign of middle age, but the temptation to compare current sporting stars and eras unfavourably to past ones is very great when it comes to tennis. And although superb a match that the Federer v Nadal men's Wimbledon final of 2008 undoubtedly was, for me it did not even come close to the 1980 gladiatorial contest between my then idol Bjorn Borg, and the young fiery upstart from America, John McEnroe. And this enthralling new book by Stephen Tignor, captures the essence of that time and place perfectly.

Much emphasis is, quite reasonably, usually placed in the telling of the rematch the following year, when McEnroe finally ended Borg's five year unbeaten Wimbledon domination, at a match which was to be Borg's last appearance at the All England Club as a player. And when Borg suffered the same fate at the hands of the young pretender at the following US Open, how he simply walked out of the stadium before the trophies were presented, and walked out of tennis, and his stratospheric career, for good. It is relatively easy to understand how Borg entered a period of almost terminal decline personally, when everything he had worked so tirelessly for from childhood had been taken away. He had no goals left, and could not tolerate a tennis life after being knocked off the number one spot.

What is fascinating about this book is the effect that Borg's disappearing act had on his great rival McEnroe. Tignor explores this aspect of their relationship here, and explains how Borg had been his boyhood hero and idol. When he was rising to the pinnacle of tennis, he needed Borg as much as Borg needed him. They fed off each others' brilliance and determination, and used their rivalry to attain even greater heights.
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By Raphael Amadeus on 6 Sep 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is probably the finest book on sport that I have ever read. The openeing sentence sets the tone...." In the minds of most tennis fans when Bjorn Borg took his first rolling, measured strides onto Centre Court for the 1980 Wimbledon final he might have been stepping down from the clouds".

To those of us who witnessed the finals of the late 70s, Borg's majestic dominance was one of the great certainties in life. And when he vanished as suddenly and mysteriously as he had appeared, the world became a more unsettling place. This book comes as close as it is possible to get to understanding how and why this transition took place.

Despite the subtitle, this book is more than just an exploration of the friendship and rivalry between Borg and McEnroe. We also get revealing insights into other leading tennis figures of the day such as Connors, Gerulaites, and Lendl.

A brilliantly written and fascinating book that vividly conjures up the halcyon days of the wooden racket supremos.
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