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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars so much more than.........
I've not been interested in writing a book review before, but having read Ed Smith's book since hearing his interview on BBC radio last Saturday, I want to record my impressions.
Its more than a sport book, you don't need to be interested in sport.
Its not a psychology book, but it helps you to think about how others think.
Its not a business book, but...
Published on 28 Mar 2008 by JB eclectic

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insights, but few and far between
To be sure, "What Sport Tells Us About Life" contains a number of interesting insights: a new take on why Zidane headbutted Materazzi, why the sporting stars of yesteryear seem to shine brighter than those of today, the reversal of meaning of the words `professional' and `amateur' in sport, and how money doesn't necessarily corrupt sport, but forces teams to look in new...
Published on 14 Aug 2009 by R. A. ter Hart


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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars so much more than........., 28 Mar 2008
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This review is from: What Sport Tells Us About Life: Bradman's Average, Zidane's Kiss and Other Sporting Lessons (Hardcover)
I've not been interested in writing a book review before, but having read Ed Smith's book since hearing his interview on BBC radio last Saturday, I want to record my impressions.
Its more than a sport book, you don't need to be interested in sport.
Its not a psychology book, but it helps you to think about how others think.
Its not a business book, but helps you to reflect how people work together or as individuals.
It might even not be a book; it seems a series of essays. You can read at a breathless pace desperate to find out what Smith thinks of Zidane, or you can read and linger on fabulous prose.
I smiled wryly on many occasions, when Smith clarified for me, many of those debates I've had and heard over the decades, my self-reflection being "yes of course" and "why couldn't I see that".
I could write more, but I'm going to read it again, I'm sure I'll read it differently this time.
Delightful yes. Highly recommended yes.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not so much a book, more a collection of essays..., 12 Jun 2008
This review is from: What Sport Tells Us About Life: Bradman's Average, Zidane's Kiss and Other Sporting Lessons (Hardcover)
...but thoughtful and interesting ones, nonetheless.

Although the book is called "What Sport Tells Us About Life", it might, equally, have been called "What Life Tells Us About Sport", since Smith takes philosophy, sociology, history, statistics, political science, economics, psychology and more besides and uses them to analyse sporting situations. Or, to look at it another way, he uses sporting situations to illustrate "real world" concepts.

So, although this will be classed as a "sports book", one doesn't need to be a sportsman to enjoy it and it would sit better with the popular non-fiction books. Several examples in the book are taken from baseball and basketball - sports about which I know little - and they are as interesting and enjoyable as the rest of the book.

Smith is clearly a very intelligent man and there are times when he achieves moments of real insight into situations. Umpires Darrel Hair and Billy Doctrove infamously docked Pakistan 5 runs for ball-tampering during their test match at the Oval in 2006, leading to Pakistan refusing to continue with the game. Smith brilliantly sums this up as the umpires thinking they were giving a speeding ticket whilst the Pakistan team felt they'd been accused of drunk-driving.

The writing style is very easy to follow, lively and witty, making the book all the more enjoyable to read. Intentionally or not, Smith also reveals quite a lot about himself. He has interesting views on politics and economics: whilst writing in praise of the free market (at least as far as sportspeople are concerned) and suggesting that the free-spirited West Indian cricketers that C L R James so admired provided a counter-argument to James's Marxist beliefs, Smith also suggests that there may be a case for more taxation on higher earners. My favourite chapter was also the most personal: "When Swansea Feels Like Cinema Paradiso" is a highly affecting evocation of fading glory and a wonderful piece of writing.

The individual essay nature of the book makes it a little disjointed and despite the title, there is not very much feel of an overarching theme. One or two chapters, particularly "What Do People See When They Watch Sport", feel like they were just put in to pad the book out, without really addressing any interesting themes developed elsewhere in the book. Essentially the chapter consists of highlights of interviews with four successful people; the sort of things which tend to appear in brief "pen pictures" in the weekend newspaper supplements. Perhaps they need a book of their own, so that the subjects may be probed more deeply.

All in all, though, the book is interesting, thought-provoking and well-written and will not just be of interest to the die-hard sports-lover.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insights, but few and far between, 14 Aug 2009
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This review is from: What Sport Tells Us About Life: Bradman's Average, Zidane's Kiss and Other Sporting Lessons (Hardcover)
To be sure, "What Sport Tells Us About Life" contains a number of interesting insights: a new take on why Zidane headbutted Materazzi, why the sporting stars of yesteryear seem to shine brighter than those of today, the reversal of meaning of the words `professional' and `amateur' in sport, and how money doesn't necessarily corrupt sport, but forces teams to look in new directions.

Unfortunately, the number of interesting insights is somewhat smaller than the number of chapters in the book.

To make matters worse, most insights can be adequately explained in a few paragraphs at most. Smith stretches them out to cover entire chapters, which slows the book down and produces repetitions.

Another point I found strangely annoying, is the number of references to cricket. As an ardent cricket fan myself I didn't think I would mind, but Smith has written a book about sport in general, so he should select his examples from a wide range of sports. As a former England cricketer, Smith certainly is entitled to a few cricketing references, but IMO he has overdone it, making it possibly irritating for readers with no affinity for cricket.

All in all it is not a bad book, but in my mind, not deserving of the very high praise it has been given.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing, 4 Mar 2013
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This review is from: What Sport Tells Us About Life: Bradman's Average, Zidane's Kiss and Other Sporting Lessons (Hardcover)
Excellent! Can not believe they make you write so many words for this, you get the idea, I liked it.
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