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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even for the non-US sports literate...
There is little than can be added about this incredible book, other than to assure any Brits or potential readers put off by the fact that they don't understand/enjoy American Football that you don't need an sort of links or history with the sport to thoroughly enjoy what is one of the finest sports books of all time.

There are many 'spending-a-season-with'...
Published on 12 Sep 2008 by R. Gardham

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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars FASCINATING BUT DEPRESSING
H.G. Bissinger's account of the fortunes of a high school football team during the 1988 season is a genuinely unsettling exploration of the dominant role that sports occupies in American culture. As abrasive and uncompromising as the empty west Texas prairie that surrounds it, the racially and economically-divided oil town of Odessa is a community in decline. The...
Published on 1 Aug 2000


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even for the non-US sports literate..., 12 Sep 2008
By 
R. Gardham (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
There is little than can be added about this incredible book, other than to assure any Brits or potential readers put off by the fact that they don't understand/enjoy American Football that you don't need an sort of links or history with the sport to thoroughly enjoy what is one of the finest sports books of all time.

There are many 'spending-a-season-with' sporting works, and some of them (Tim Parks' A Season With Verona and Joe McGinniss's The Miracle of Castel di Sangro, for example) are excellent. However, with regards to this type of sporting book, HG Bissinger is the king. You feel like you know Boobie, Mike, Ivory, Don and Coach Gaines by the end. As the book closes, even Bissinger's update on how they are doing (in later prints of the novel) aren't enough. You've befriended these people and you demand to know how they are now, what they are doing, etc...

As a Brit whose childhood was dominated by school sport, the Odessa recreated by Bissinger seems a mile away from the disinterest in the soccer teams of my high school. But that doesn't detract from what is an entertaining, touching and informative book. Very strongly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 minutes to play, a lifetime to remember!, 10 July 1999
By A Customer
I was a three year starting quarterback for a smaller west texas high school. This book brought back all of those glorious memories for me! For those of you who have not played, this is an ideal book. --I dropped the book off at one of my ex-teammates house one day after he had came in from working in the oilfield. I asked him to read it and give me his opinion. 2 weeks later he called me around 1:30 in the morning while I was at college. He was crying, softly he said that he could not finish reading it. --For those of us who have played, it will touch a nerve!! --5 years later I am still trying to get him to finish the book...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE GREATEST BOOK SINCE THE BIBLE!, 22 April 1999
By A Customer
This book is without a doubt one of the greatest books I have ever read. With being a three-year varsity letterman in football at my high school, I can relate to some of the pressures and hardships that the players at Permian high had. No one can really understand the excitement of playing under the lights on Friday night until you are out on the field lined up against someone as exited as much as you are. Some of the problems the players face are not just faced when you are out on the field, whether you are on the field or not you face problems everyday of your life, like whether to go to the party on Saturday night or go out with your friends and stay out of trouble. When Boobie got hurt they just kind of left him out of everything, and that was not very cool he was probably one of the best players on the team. When I got hurt my coaches helped me get back to my full potential as soon as I could and that is how it should be in every program. I would highly recommend this book to anyone I think this book should be a required book to read in class.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars FASCINATING BUT DEPRESSING, 1 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Friday Night Lights (Hardcover)
H.G. Bissinger's account of the fortunes of a high school football team during the 1988 season is a genuinely unsettling exploration of the dominant role that sports occupies in American culture. As abrasive and uncompromising as the empty west Texas prairie that surrounds it, the racially and economically-divided oil town of Odessa is a community in decline. The Permian Panthers football team, the most successful high school team in state history, is the only stable feature around which the town, bankrupted by the boom-bust oil economy of the eighties, can base any sense of identity. Such is the unbelievable extent of the town's obsession with the team, that one often forgets that the players Bissinger writes about are not seasoned professionals or even highly-touted college stars, but 17- and 18-year old high school kids. The pampered treatment that the players receive at school and from the community is disquieting, and it becomes clear that without Permian football, the people of Odessa would have nothing with which to give their lives structure and meaning. In this way, Friday Night Lights examines the relationship between a sports team and a community that occupies such an intriguing and integral role in the American identity. Bissinger's observations moreover highlight the disturbing inadequacies of an education system continually relegated to second place behind athletic success. A fascinating, if ultimately depressing book, that is as much an indictment of life in the heartland of Reagan-era America as it is of the more general nationwide obsession with sports.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simply brilliant, 13 Mar 2007
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I bought this book, like many on the back of seeing the film and then subsequently a few episodes of the TV show and i have to say i was blown away from the first chapter.

I wouldnt say it was completely different to the film or the show but alot more in depth, as you would expect from a book but watchin the film you cant help but feel that there is alot of things that they could have focused more on to make it a better adaptation, which is why this book has to be read aswell if you are a fan of either the tv show or the film because you can get a better feel for the characters and the town and why they are the way they are when it comes to high school football.

brilliantly written, poignantly set in a time where not alot is going for the town apart from those Friday Night Lights - (cheesy ending i know but what the hell)

simply brilliant
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book i've ever read; next to the bible., 29 Mar 1999
By A Customer
Friday Night Lights is a sad but true story about Texas High School football. I will speak from expierence of playing for 3 seasons. Granted not in Odessa, but in Richardson TX, where football is the only ticket in town on a Friday Night. The documentary written by, H.G. Bissinger is exteremely true. The pressure is second to none and the great sacrifice surpasses all. I can relate with every one of the players talked about throughout the book and their feelings towards the game and life itself. No one can understand the story unless they have lived and expierenced it. Friday Night Lights will forever be a classic and a heart-felt documentary
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even if you didn't play high school football, READ THIS BOOK, 11 May 1999
By A Customer
As a three year member and starter of the varsity squad of my High School in Chesapeake Virginia, the stories from this book were all too familiar. The small Virginia town in which I played was similiar to that of Odessa, Canton, Penn Hills, and others across the country where High School football is the main focus of attention and entertainment. This book made me think back to all of the great times I had, the great friends I made, and the many memories that I will never forget. Bissinger brought out the many "behind the scenes" views of the sport. All the problems and events that happen in the Permian locker room, coaches office, halls, classrooms, and in the lives of the players, occur everyday in schools everywhere.
On the bus ride home from the very last game of my senior year..a tough last minute loss, giving our school its first losing record in 25 years at 4-6. I thought about the two state championships we won in the two years before, and why it had to end like it did, and I thought about the blood, sweat, and tears that we have all spilled on the playing fields. As we pulled away I realized that I'd probably never step onto a football field to play again and that these days are now behind me forever. Then, like so many of the seniors on the bus with me, and the thousands more around the country...I cried.
I sometimes forget why I played football in high school. Three years after my final game I bought this book and read it. It then became all clear to me, and I recalled why I played. I laughed a little, and maybe even cried a little, and you will too.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing, 6 May 2008
By 
Chris Widgery (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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Being English, the whole American high school sport thing is something of a mystery. I knew that some university teams get crowds bigger than premier league football does here, but had no idea that schoolchildren can draw crowds of 20,000 to watch their games.

And I think the main point of the book is that the word "school children" has been completely lost (or rather had been in the late 1980s, when this book was written). These young men train more or less full time, and have what must be almost unbearable pressures heaped upon them before they are old enough to drink (not that the legal age seemed to stop them). The book is about shattered dreams and hopes and is rivetting.

But it's astonishing in what it shows about race in America, and about class, and about sport (or "sports"). Of course, a lot might have changed in 20 years, but the racism is shocking. Genuinely, truly shocking. As is the way that children's educations are sacrificed in the name of sporting achievement. These guys don't have to do any school work they don't want to. It's an amazing portrait of the town, Odessa, of the people in it, and of (a bit of) America.

If, like me, you don't really understand American football (beyond the large men in armour knocking seven bells out of each other), it doesn't matter, as many of the details don't matter (understanding what a Safety or Split End does isn't necessary) and the writing about the matches themselves is good enough to keep you going.

One of the best books about sport I've ever read. Fantastic.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Searing, 6 Sep 1999
By A Customer
FRINDAY NIGHT LIGHTS is a deeply disturbing book. It deserves a wide audience. While outwardly, football is the focus of the book, the books delivers a devastating critique not only of false dreams and hopes, but of class and racial devides. As I was reading FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, I could not help comparing Odessa Permian with "Laketown High School"(Yorktown, West Chester NY), as portrayed in Richard Woodley's magnificent TEAM: A HIGH SCHOOL ODYSSEY (published in the early 1970s, and out of print). Like Bissinger, Woodley the journalist spent his time with "Laketown" football team. The contrast between Odessa and "Laketown" could not be more different. The difference? One can start off by the leadership and teaching roles of the two head coaches. The other factors, of course, is the role of football plays in various communities. Two weeks ago (August 1999), I drove by Odessa (it was hot and dusty) on my way back from San Diego, and I was reminded of the characters portrayed in the book: Boobie Miles (what are you doing now, Boobie?), the earnest QB with the wobbly pass, and the TE who went to Harvard.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sport. It's not a matter of life and death. It's more important than that., 4 April 2014
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This is a book that transcends it's subject. It is far more than just a book about American Football. If you are not a gridiron fan (like I am) it will not spoil your enjoyment of this finely written book. The fact that sport is so much more important than education is a difficult theme to warm to.
Many of the kids sucked into the world of Odessa High School football, give up everything to progress in a sport that, in the vast majority of cases, spits them out when it has finished with them. The way the system and the sport of football completely emasculates the education of pupils is outrageous. Admittedly, some of these kids would have nothing if they did not have football. But, nevertheless, this is no way to prepare young adults for a successful life or career.
The way the banks behaved during the oil boom of the early eighties is incredibly reminiscent of the way they still behave. Have we learnt nothing?
So, overall, an enjoyable read about a deeply flawed educational system.
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