The First Beautiful Game: Stories of Obsession in Real Tennis Paperback – 31 Aug 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
As a tennis player myself, I naturally ordered the book. I sat down the evening I received it to take a look and before I knew it, I'd read the first 100 pages, discovering much more about the people involved in the game and enjoying the way the book is written.
The book starts with introduction to the game, both its history and how it exists today. There are other books that go much more into this history and a couple more have been written by todays professionals. This book however, focusses on the more personal aspects of the game itself through reporting interviews with some of those involved as well as describing the authors own experiences.
The style of the first chapter is, to me, quite unusual but it works! It takes the reader into a number of related dimensions of the game. A later chapter contains some stories that positions the state of the game in the 60's before a new breed of professional entered the game and made it what it is today. This change is well described in the penultimate chapter.
The final chapter contains a very personal insight into a father-son relationship through sharing a game of tennis.
You don't need to play Real Tennis, or even have seen a game, to enjoy this book.Read more ›
It's strange that in tennis professionals are not treated with the same esteem as in most other sports. It is an achievement to attain professional status as a rugby player, footballer or golfer. Tennis professionals are expected to do so much more manual labour. They live the life of a football trainee throughout their career. At times Krznaric repeats this point a little too often, but I guess that reflects the frequency with which it was raised as an issue in the lives of the tennis professionals he interviewed. There is a somewhat Orwellian agenda at work here, but Krznaric has the sense of integrity to include Chris Ronaldson's objection to some of his pointed questions about the Old Boys' ethos of the sport.
The book shows the influence of the ideas of Theodore Zeldin on the art of living, conversation and work, and the methods of the Oxford Muse.
As well as a history of the game, including eccentrics, fights, wagers, poetry and enormous pantaloons, the book gives some of the flavour of what it means to be an enthusiast for practising a sport, what it means to have the tune of the moves running through your limbs and the joy of participating in a game with others (given that I am such a lazy and uncompetitive slug, to communicate this compellingly takes some good writing).
What remains in the mind, is the use of the game as a prism for illuminating relationships of patronage, parenting, and competition, which makes it bigger in its scope and ambition than the usual "history of obscure stuff" genre, and all the more satisfying for that.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As a non tennis player I was pleasantly surprised with this book. Encounters with obsession and living in the context of an obscure sport are vividly presented through the author's... Read morePublished on 17 Oct. 2007 by Rodrigo
Arguably, a ball has give the human race more satisfaction than anything else. The pleasures provided by this game are such that some of the greatest ball game players of all time... Read morePublished on 9 Nov. 2006 by Mr. J. Maynard Hall
A very enjoyable read and welcome change to the other books that are published re: Real Tennis. A great illustration of why this sport is so addictive.Published on 6 Nov. 2006 by CBS