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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 15 January 2007
Since I'd greatly enjoyed Lewis' baseball book "Moneyball", I figured this would make a nice companion to read during the NFL playoffs. The book's subtitle is "Evolution of a Game", so I expected a somewhat similar book looking at the transformations underway in professional football. And to a certain degree, that content is there, via a brief discussion of the rise of the passing game and Bill Walsh's crucial role in this, as well as Lawrence Taylor's impact on the game. The book opens with a blow-by-blow of LT's famous leg-snapping sack of Joe Theisman -- an event I vividly recall watching on TV as a 12-year-old Redskins fan. This leads off the discussion of role of the left tackle and this position's counterintuitive rise in the NFL pay scale. All of which segues into the book's main subject: Michael Oher.

Oher is one of thirteen children born to an alcoholic, drug-addicted mother in the West Memphis ghetto. He grew up in total poverty with her, in and out of various foster homes and various public schools. Along the way, he filled out into a 6' 6" 340 pound behemoth with natural grace and speed unnatural to those of his size. He also came to the attention of Lewis' old elementary school classmate, and ex-college star point guard Sean Tuohy. Now a successful businessman and pro-basketball announcer, Tuohy takes an interest in MIchael and works the system to get him into his daughter's elite Christian prep school.

The lily-white conservative Tuohy family's quasi-adoption of Michael, along with his meteoric rise to prominence in college football recruiting circles forms the central storyline. The Tuohy's basically work their upper-crust and sports connections to shepard Michael along, pressuring people, exploiting loopholes, and using their money to smooth his path. Lewis originally wrote about this for the New York Times Magazine, and in many ways, the book feels like an extended magazine piece. It's essentially a very smooth and readable extended human interest profile. The main problem is that the book has no ending -- it ends with Oher a sophomore at Mississippi. The more natural ending would have been two years later, with Oher getting drafted and about to get enter the maelstrom of the NFL.
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on 10 March 2011
I am surprised at how many people have chosen to mis-categorise this story as heart-warming and uplifting when, in fact, it is the complete opposite. It is, in fact a story of unadulterated greed from almost all the principal characters. It is also (and perhaps it is unintended, though I could never be sure of Lewis' intentions), a damning indictment of what is wrong with the American Dream particularly as it impacts on African-Americans.

The Blind Side is a story that exemplifies all that is wrong for inner-city, underprivileged African-Americans: that the only routes out are through gangs/drugs or sporting excellence. Michael Oher gets lucky because he is built to play left tackle. As a result, he comes under the influence and support of the Tuohy family. Would he have been supported and tutored had he been 5 foot nothing and a physical weakling? Of course not. This is a story about how if you are underprivileged and a physical freak you get the breaks and the rest are left in the projects. In other words, it's about money and greed. Oher is destined for sporting stardom, everyone sees his potential and jumps on the bandwagon.

What is so thoroughly depressing is that by the end, even Michael Oher himself doesn't recognise the injustice of the system. He too has been brainwashed in the ideals of meritocracy or social Darwinism (i.e. that if you work hard enough anyone can be make it and if you fail, you deserve it). At the end of the book, Oher is reported as commenting that he has little contact with his mother and siblings and remarks that they are lazy, need to hear the word "No", and, most damningly, he remarks that they had the same chances he had (seriously!).

This is, of course, utter nonsense - Oher was adopted by a millionaire family, privately educated, privately tutored and groomed for college based on his physical potential alone while his siblings were left to run away from foster homes and live rough in the projects. So instead of giving a helping hand to his family and others in need, he adopts exactly the sort of mantra and mindset of the super-rich white Republican milieu he now moves in: "I made it because I worked harder than you, you choose to live in the ghetto on welfare so don't come to me for handouts".

That Oher doesn't recognise that his assent from the street to the penthouse is not a simple matter of merit and hard work and everything to with blind luck and a social/economic system that places higher value on sporting achievement is disappointing, but given the interactions reported in the book, hardly surprising.

I am also surprised that so few people found the relationship between Oher and the Tuohys slightly disturbing. Obviously Oher would not have come under their wing had he not been a prospective lineman, but there is merit in what the Tuohys do, certainly, and they must be applauded for their charity and generally caring attitude. But it's the details that make them appear so unlikeable, like telling Oher when he learns that his father has died that it's for the best as when he becomes successful his father would only have made claims on his money. The things that the Tuohys value and think Oher should know and appreciate are also puzzling: Ms Tuohy orders everything at an Italian restaurant so Oher can appreciate the difference between pesto and puttanesca. Well that will avoid embarassment at the country club I suppose. They buy him a backpack that is the preserve of little rich kids, and when Oher questions their choice, he's informed that he is himself now a little rich kid. Charming. The Tuohys come across as treating Oher like a pet or a worthy social experiment rather than a human.

What the Blind Side does reveal is the naked greed of everyone involved in Oher's rise as a left tackle and the appalling disparity of wealth and influence in the US. Like the high school and college coaches who drool over him and offer what amount to little more than bribes to get him to play for them. Or Sean Jr demanding privileges from prospective college coaches and then questioning why his sister and Oher aren't written out of his parent's will as they are/will be independently rich.

The disparity between rich and poor is shocking. On one side of Memphis there are the ghettos, on the other families with private jets whose daughters date the billionaire owners of FedEx. For a poor black boy, the only way he can move from one to the other is a result of sporting prowess. This is not something to celebrate, it is an indictment on society, as is the fact that by the end, the poor black boy thinks this is how it should be.
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on 1 May 2009
I'm a huge football fan but actually don't read that many books which are football related. Normally they are the usual ghost written ramblings of some former player or coach which have the odd interesting after dinner type anecdote but generally are very formulaic.

Not this book.

I was attracted to it from some word of mouth recommendation. Really glad I bought it.

Gives some really interesting back ground on the evolution of the passing game, o-line play and blind side pass rush in the NFL. Also gives some insite into the College recruiting process. Which is good if you are a football fan.

But more than that it tells a fascinating human interest story of a poor black kid from New Orleans with a drug and alcohol addicted dead beat mother, multiple brothers and sisters from various absent fathers and zero education. This kid just happend to be 6-5 and weigh 300+ lbs at age 14 and have great athletic ability.

Taken in by a rich white family who support him through high school this story tells of his journey adapting to a middle class upbringing, his education and of course the development of his footbal career.

As a postscript the book ends with him being recruited to Ole Miss a Division 1 College football programme on a full scholarship. He was just drafted to the NFL by the Baltimore Ravens with the 20th overall pick in the 1st round of the 2009 NFL draft.

Great story.
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on 11 August 2013
As a non American and non American Football fanatic I was worried about reading this book in the wonder that I would have no clue regarding the terminology and struggle understanding the detail. However this book covers all - it allows those with knowledge of the game to appreciate what Michael Oher is achieving but also allows those (like me) who have no clue, the same ability to appreciate the game and Michael's achievements.

A fantastic read and I'm so glad I wanted to get the more intrinsic detail after watching the film. Whilst the film is AMAZING it does not do the book justice
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on 22 April 2015
Another Michael Lewis book, another hit. This and Moneyball change your POV of the two great American sports, but in ways that upend expectations. While Moneyball entertained, this one inspires. So much so, it was also picked up and made into a decent film.This book also asks pointed questions about American society. Michael Oher - the hero - is a huge black kid, physically gifted and mentally, underwhelming to say the least. He is both learning disabled and talented. He is literally adopted by a well meaning, rich white couple, who take him on without any obvious reasons other than the goodness of their hearts. Or so Lewis says.

This is his least honest book. It comes out in the end that Lewis and Sean Touhys were best friends as children (Sean is the father!). Obviously Lewis knows this little fact could compromise the tale, so he buries it till the end. It is probably the reason he gets the story so 'inside', why he believes the Touhys are pure of heart, and not exploiting the poor huge black boy. They are a rich family, so there is nothing to gain from Michael's success.

And what a success he is - he is a physical freak, but a useful one. Huge and very athletic, ideally suited to play the left tackle role so vital to modern American Football. He meets his match in Leigh Anne, the Sandra Bullock character, a controlling uber-bitch like Scarlett O'Hara. Lewis turns this into an entertaining, surprising true story with all the trimmings. He is in his element - money, sports, analytics, and an angle.

Is there anyone better at writing these kind of stories? Not that I'm aware of.
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VINE VOICEon 27 December 2010
I have lived in America so I know the rules of American Football and it definitely helps to understand the context of the story. Essentially though, this is a fairy tale that could have been written by Walt Disney, where the main character is a big homeless black kid with no education to speak of, but this story is true.

This is a story about a kid who is found and taken under the wing of a middle class white family. He is a big kid with no real education, but they discover within him a big talent. His big talent is playing American Football. Michael Lewis is a great writer and he delivers a stunning book that brings the story of Michael Oher to life.

What is the blind side? In American Football the general on the field is a 6ft 15 stone man who throws the ball, the quarterback, and he usually earns $10-$20m a year. When the quarterback plays he has 10 other team mates on the field. Out of the 10, there are 5 who are there for the quarterback to use as options to give the ball to. The other 5 are there to protect the quarterback until he has passed the ball. If you pass the ball from your right arm, then your left side is essentially your backside, the blindside = it is from where somebody can tackle you before you see him. If you do not want your prize possession knocked out of the game then you better protect him with your biggest and best. Michael Oher is now that man, and as such you may have to pay him a lot of money $5-10m a year.

The book is a story about Michael Oher, and also why his position on the team commands the salary that it does. So you will not get 100% out of the book if you do not understand the basic explanation above about the blindside.

A truly remarkable story.
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on 6 February 2012
This book describes the path of Michael Oher into the American football NFL. Two strands form the narrative. First, the history and background of Michael's position as an offensive lineman guarding the quarterback's blind side is continually revisited throughout. Without a change in the style of American football in the 1980s, there would not have been a position that Oher could fill. Second, Oher's personal journey from troubled childhood to first-round draft pick forms the bulk of the text. Oher is initially a quiet giant who comes from a poor neighbourhood. He is picked up by the Tuohys, a rich middle-class family, and is supported through high school and college where he develops personally and becomes a great sportsman. A question mark remains over the motivations of the Tuohys, despite their own protestations. Would they have been so willing to support any soul in trouble, or just those who have a glimmer of sporting talent? There is a happy ending, in this particular case at least, although some deeper questions remain.
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on 17 December 2013
Whether you are a sports fan or not, you can't help but enjoy this book. The author intertwines the phenomenal story of Michael Oher and the evolution of the NFL.

Oher, one of 13 children to a mother addicted to crack cocaine was given a chance in life by the Tuohy family. Michael Oher was a 6ft 4in, 22 stone boy with incredible athleticism, he soon began to garner plenty of attention from college football scouts all across the country.

Meanwhile, within the NFL, the introduction of free agency was having a huge effect on the value of certain positions. Left Tackle, the player installed to protect the Quarterbacks "blind side" was previously viewed as a relatively unskilled position had now become one of the highest paid roles in all of sport.

Despite the book being written in 2007, it is still very relevant. Oher has forged a successful career in the NFL and last year Oher's Baltimore Ravens won the Superbowl.
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on 28 April 2010
After seeing the film i was keen to read the book and i wasn't disappointed. It was very heart warming and a great story of human kindness and inspiration. Although the story was easy to read there was parts of the book i struggled to absorb. There is alot of references to american football and players as well as rules and techniques of the game. These took up a few chapters and unless your familiar with the game it's hard to stay interested. It is still worth reading for the underlying story line and as it is a true story it makes it all the more special. It is well written and i really enjoyed it, i would recommend this book to others but if i hadn't of seen the film first the football references may have put me off continuing to read the outcome. I would tell others to stick with it as it's worth it in the end to get that warm fuzzy feeling.
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on 12 April 2010
The Blind Side tells two stories in one book that interweave and correlate to each other. It charts the rise in importance placed on the left tackle position in the NFL over the past two decades with the inspirational and amazing story of Michael Oher, a poor black kid adopted by a rich white family. It explores many issues, from social inequality, nurture versus nature, and education, as well as the difficulties of culture clashes and the NCAA to tell a remarkable story that you are unable to stop reading. I finished the book in just over a day as I could simply not put it down. A knowledge or interest in American Football is not a necessary requirement to enjoy the book and understand it.
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