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What Sport Tells Us About Life [Paperback]

Ed Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 Jan 2009

Why will there never be another Bradman?

How do you win 33 games in a row?

Why did Zidane lose his rag on the world's stage?

Foraying deep into sport's leftfield, Ed smith asks the questions we rarely ask of our teams and players. When is cheating really cheating? Is the free market good for sport? Can talent be a curse? Does luck matter? His answers, often controversial and always thought provoking, will delight anyone who has ever wondered why sport matters.

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What Sport Tells Us About Life + Luck: A Fresh Look At Fortune + Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (29 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141031859
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141031859
  • Product Dimensions: 12.2 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 55,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ed Smith is an author, journalist and broadcaster. He was formerly an international cricketer, playing for Kent and England, then captaining Middlesex.

Ed's previous books include PLAYING HARD BALL, ON AND OFF THE FIELD (Wisden Book of the Year and shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year) and the critically acclaimed WHAT SPORT TELLS US ABOUT LIFE.

After retiring from cricket Ed became a leader writer for The Times. He is now a columnist for The Times, The New Statesman and cricinfo. He has also written and presented TV and radio programmes for the BBC and commentates for Test Match Special.

In LUCK- A FRESH LOOK AT FORTUNE, Ed traces the history of the concepts of luck and fortune, destiny and fate, from the ancient Greeks to the present day - in religion, in banking, in politics - arguing that the question of luck versus skill is as pertinent today as it ever has been. The paperback is published in April 2013.

Product Description


Recommended to anyone interested in sport, history, or simply human nature (Mark Lawson, Front Row )

I could eat this stuff up with a spoon (Nick Hornby )

A book that everyone with a serious interest in sport needs to read. Don't miss it (Simon Barnes The Times )

A terrific book - Smith has distilled into 200 pages things that took me fifteen years of playing to work out (Mike Atherton )

An exceptional book: lucid, thought-provoking, informative and fair. Outstanding (Christopher Martin-Jenkins The Times )

About the Author

Ed Smith read History at Peterhouse, Cambridge. Having played for Kent and England, he is now Captain of Middlesex County Cricket Club.

He has published two highly acclaimed books: Playing Hard Ball, a comparison of baseball and cricket, and On and Off the Field, which was named Wisden Book of the Year, 2004. He writes for many publications including The Times and Sunday Telegraph.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SPORTING EQUIVALENT OF FREAKONOMICS 18 Feb 2009
Imagine if a sequel was written to Freakonomics - a book which attempts to understand and explicate all sorts of things in society by applying economic principles to them - by a well-educated, well-read, erudite former English Crickter-turned journalist and instead of applying economic principles the author seeks to apply lessons from the world of sport instead. Well, if you can imagine that then you have a pretty good idea of the premise of this book.

'Sport is a condensed version of life - only it matters less and comes up with better statistics. Consequently, in this book, I place sport in the widest possible context in order to learn more about the game of real life.'

The premise is an interesting one and the book is an excellent read but it is far from perfect:- (1) It is only 183 pages long. (2) It is really a collection of short essays rather than one coherant book. (3)a) The first half of the book is much better than the second half. (b) A couple of the chapters towards the back of the book end with trite banalities rather than real insight.

Notwithstanding the criticisms that can legitimately be levelled against the book I would still recommend this book to any sports fan, it is well-written, frequently insightful and whilst short it is broad in scope and ambition.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
During my year out in Paris I remember being fascinated by a french friend telling me about the symbolism in the 'Jungle Book'; the different characters representing the balance of power between the 'great nations' in 1901.
Ed Smith's book brought back memories of those intellectual discussions about topics that previously I thought were trivial or for children.
Sadly, sports coverage is too often at the level of 'Hello' magazine or tabloid journalism; a re-iteration of 'what' took place on the pitch (or off it) and not 'why' they happened. 'What sport tells us about life' contains that 'value add' and in so doing not only helps you enjoy what you are watching more, but also apply lessons learnt to other aspects of life.
I'm just about to talk to a senior manager (who loves F1) about why our project managers should be less like 'Ayrton Senna'...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Andy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Being both an intelligent bloke and having been within touching distance of the highest reaches of international cricket, Ed Smith is an ideal author of a book that attempts to draw links between sport and "everything else". If you've ever wasted time playing or watching sport, you will find something in this set of essays.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Title the wrong way round. 27 Jan 2010
Don't get me wrong, this is an enjoyable if slight book, but most of the essays here describe what life tells us about sport, not the other way round. Or have I missed the point?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What Cricket Tells Us About Life 1 Nov 2011
By Neil
The author clearly knows a lot about cricket but is lacking a feel for other sports, especially football. All the positive reviews are from cricket fans/writers
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sport and Life 12 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A good interesting read but I'm not sure that the parallels drawn in the book met with all my experiences.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 30 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great to discover a writer who comes at his subject with an insider's knowledge for detail and is able to apply that insider knowledge to the wider world. Highly recommended
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars a bit disappointing
as an avid sports fan who likes to think about 'the bigger picture' a lot, i was interested in reading this, but would agree with other comments about it being more like a... Read more
Published 18 months ago by SAB
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Ed Smith manages to reveal some very honest truths without us feeling like idiots, a lot of managers, sports players and fans of thinking should read this book.
Published 19 months ago by Barrington
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting Read
Ed Smith brings out the analogies between sport and life, in a most thought provoking way. Anyone in business will recognise many of the scenarios described, as these are not... Read more
Published on 20 Feb 2012 by David Morgan
4.0 out of 5 stars Food for thought
Very good book. Ed Smith takes the reader through a discussion over several sporting questions - it is thoughtful, analytical, well-referenced and fun. Read more
Published on 7 Oct 2011 by David M
2.0 out of 5 stars Not very good - but at least the author's friends liked it
Ok, let's be clear about this. The cover of this book is coated with glittering praise for the author but I don't think you should be swayed by these sugar-coated words. Read more
Published on 30 Oct 2010 by John Holland
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book
This is an extremely good read if your interested in sport! Thought provoking and well written with a good amount of anecdote and interesting sporting examples to back up theories. Read more
Published on 6 Sep 2010 by Russell
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