War Without Death: A Year of Extreme Competition in Pro Football Paperback – 26 Aug 2008
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a What makes this book compelling is Maskeas focus on the personalities that shape a teamas policies and performance.a
a"The Washington Post Book World"
a If you enjoy pro football and wonderful reporting and writing, this is a book you have to read.a
aJohn Feinstein, bestselling author of "Next Man Up: A Year Behind the Lines of the NFL"
a A page-turner you wonat be able to put down.a
aPeter King, "Sports Illustrated," HBO, NBC Sports
? What makes this book compelling is Maske's focus on the personalities that shape a team's policies and performance.?
?"The Washington Post Book World"
? If you enjoy pro football and wonderful reporting and writing, this is a book you have to read.?
?John Feinstein, bestselling author of "Next Man Up: A Year Behind the Lines of the NFL"
? A page-turner you won?t be able to put down.?
?Peter King, "Sports Illustrated", HBO, NBC Sports
What makes this book compelling is Maske s focus on the personalities that shape a team s policies and performance. The Washington Post Book World
If you enjoy pro football and wonderful reporting and writing, this is a book you have to read. John Feinstein, bestselling author of Next Man Up: A Year Behind the Lines of the NFL
A page-turner you won t be able to put down. Peter King, Sports Illustrated, HBO, NBC Sports"
"What makes this book compelling is Maske's focus on the personalities that shape a team's policies and performance."--The Washington Post Book World
"If you enjoy pro football and wonderful reporting and writing, this is a book you have to read."--John Feinstein, bestselling author of Next Man Up: A Year Behind the Lines of the NFL
"A page-turner you won't be able to put down."--Peter King, Sports Illustrated, HBO, NBC Sports
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Top customer reviews
He'd heard that ace Amazon reviewer therealus had gotten hold of his book, and that if it didn't pass muster he'd be toast...
Like an INSEAD or HBR Case Study, that's the way Mark Maske's book dealing with the National Football League, and specifically the NFL's NFC East, proceeds, with Maske getting into the main characters' heads and lives and giving some extraordinary details regarding the individuals and organisations, the politics and economics of the gridiron game's business. In order to put this account together the author clearly had a remarkable level of access to a whole raft of players, owners, officials and pundits that has enabled him to assemble a fascinating account of the NFL from the perspective of the 2006 season.
Having followed the NFL since it was first regularly featured on UK TV back in the 80s, I found it truly enlightening to have somebody finally explain to me the relationships between the NFL, players and clubs, how the draft works (and how it's conducted), how different clubs plan for the draft, the mechanics of the salary cap and the ways in which some clubs engineer their team strategies around the cap.
Also enlightening were the descriptions of the different styles of the NFC East team owners: Messrs Lurie, Mara, Jones and Snyder are each depicted in action, their business and personal backgrounds accounted for, and their relationships with other key personalities in the game described.
As a long time follower of the Philadelphia Eagles (back to the days when Randall Cunningham was their QB) I had a particular interest in the insights the book provided of such matters as how Jeff Lurie came to be owner, Andy Reid's appointment as head coach, and particularly some of the details of the Terrell Owens saga that the British media do not dedicate space or time to cover, although given the success of the Giants-Dolphins game at Wembley in October 2007 they may begin shortly giving more air time and column space to the game.
Some of the episodes came as a surprise, like the account of Owens's overdose.
Some of the episodes brought back some very vivid memories, like the account of the Eagles-Panthers game in December 2006 for which I happened to be in Philly and was lucky enough to procure a ticket. The memories of Lito Sheppard's last-gasp interception, which saved the game for Philadelphia, came flooding back, as did the memory of how cold (-2C) it was. But that interception made three hours of shivering worthwhile, and it was great to revisit it.
Reading the book, as I did, the week following the Giants' defeat of the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, not only helped me ease out of the season without going cold turkey, it also helped me put in perspective some of the events of the 2007 season and the decisions that had contributed to them. The lengths to which the Giants went to secure the services of Eli Manning, for example, had previously been of unproven value, but Manning's miraculous escape, in the closing minutes of the game, from the Patriots' clutches in order to pull off a critical pass to Tyree, which in turn set up the winning touchdown, put to bed any doubts even New York's famously caustic fans may have had about their Quarterback's abilities and value.
I also reflected on how an equivalent account of the 2007 season may have looked: how Maske may have assessed Tony Romo's new contract with the Cowboys, given the doubts at the end of this book; a view of how the Giants' season may have gone had Shockey not broken his leg; the impact Sean Taylor's death had on the Redskins' season; and similarly how Andy Reid's sons' problems, briefly touched on in the Epilogue, affected the Eagles' season and performance.
And that, in a way, is a tribute to the book - that it leaves you wanting more.
In summary, then, suffice to say that Mark Maske has given followers of the NFL an extremely worthwhile inside view of the game, but the book also, like an INSEAD Case Study, carries some generic lessons that many would find valuable.
The author takes you to the core of a world mere mortals. Especially English ones. Will ever have the luck to be engaged in. The players, the fans, the managers, the coaches, everyone in the NFL division at the centre of this book are discussed and fantastic pictures of painted of their personalities and the stories that surround them.
If you're an NFL fan buy this book. You won't regret it
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Pro: In depth coverage of the owners, contract negotiations, and search for new commissioner.
Con: Little insight into the high pressured world of coaches and players in context of winning and losing games. Read Next Man Up by John Feinstein for a substantive view into the professional game of football.
If your interest is on off season trades and contracts you will love this book. Maske must have spent much time with the owners and top execs of the teams as he offers enormous details on their deals and candid thoughts. Almost 2/3rds of the book deals with off- and pre-season issues. One the NFL season begins, Maske continues providing insights into the inner workings of the executives and owners. Coaches are included, but mostly dealing with administrative issues, and less of strategy and coaching games. Game coverage are brief summaries that give little more than if someone watched the games themselves. I know, having seen many of them. John Feinstein, Maske's acknowledged mentor, is more satisfying in his sports books. Read Next Man Up as an example of what Maske could have achieved. War Without Death is a contradictory title that reflects a book that promises much but delivers below expectations.
Maske's book covers the 2006-07 season. As a Giants fan, the only part I really enjoyed was his disdainful and simplistic dismissals of Tom Coughlin's coaching (and future) and Eli Manning's play and poor potential. Of course, within 12 months, Coughlin, Eli and the Giants would crown an astonishing and captivating playoff run with the first of the 2 SuperBowl titles the Giants would win in the next 5 years - the only ones for the NFC East, and a feat no other NFL team has bested in this millennium. So much for Maske as a skillful analyst or observer of his subject.
In sum, not much of a book or an effort, right down to the lame hype of its title.
War Without Death: A Year of Extreme Competition in Pro Football's NFC East is exactly what the title says it is. The storyline of the 2006 calendar year for the NFC East is divided into three sections. And instead of giving you just the game recaps from the NFL season, the reader is put right in the thick of things from the coach's office, to the owner's box, to the draft rooms, and the player's homes. You start off right in Oakland at the end of the 2005 NFL season, where the New York Giants had clinched the 2005 NFC East division in January. Stories of the legendary Mara family, owners of the Giants, are told and signify how special things were in the organization, as well as documenting the emotions of the Cowboys, Redskins, and Eagles.
Maske tells the story more from the angle of the owners of the clubs than anyone else. Dan Snyder comes off as a rich man who is looking for his next buck. Jerry Jones comes off as a man wanting his Cowboys to be "America's Team". John Mara comes off as a man who wants to respect the history of the Giants and NFL, as well as wanting to ensure the Giants mean something in the league. And Jeffery Lurie comes off as the owner who wants to be successful but wants to do it smartly, rather than being the over spender. Each personality is represented just as they appear to be in real life.
The three sections of the book are "The Planning", "The Build Up", and "The Payoff". Each section progresses through the year starting with the end of the 2005 season. In the first section the reader learns what each club is thinking coming off the end of the 2005 NFL season, coaching changes, free agents, and looking forward to the draft. "The Build Up" is all about the second half of the off season as the reader learns how the draft unfolds, the legacies of the owners and general managers that are defined by free agency and drafts, and the wonderful world of training camps.
"The Payoff" takes the reader through the up and down 2006 season, all of the division lead changes, the national exposure games, and the eventual playoff match-ups.
There are so many plot lines that are followed through out the entire book. One to pay attention too is the story of Adam Archuleta, a free agent who decided to sign with the Redskins for more money as opposed to going to Chicago, where he could play in a system that better suited him and was close to his old home. Archuleta tells Maske just how feels as he makes the decision and how his feelings turn bitter as the season unfolds. By the end you want to feel sorry for Archuleta, but at the same time you may feel like saying "Told ya so!"
Among the other story lines that are detailed more accurately and without bias is the Terrell Owens sage, which moved form Philadelphia to Dallas. Owens' image issues, coach Parcels battles, and overdose episode are discussed, as well as his road from Philadelphia to Dallas. Also detailed throughout the book is what happens above the club level.
A owners' meetings are discussed in an important year for the NFL. A new collective bargaining agreement was put in place, as was a new commissioner. Stadium deals are passed, coaches are scrutinized, and players are revived and dismantled.
Every topic thinkable is covered in War Without Death. I bought it a while ago and finally finished it over the weekend. If you are a football fan, especially of either of the NFC East teams, this is a must read when you get a chance. You will undoubtedly come away with a higher appreciation for the inner workings of the NFL and its teams, owners, general managers, coaches, and players.
This book read like little more than a collection of the writer's newspaper columns. He wrote as if he were afraid that if he broke a big story in the book, it would have compromised his access in the coming season.
Still, the reader gets some glimpses into some of the machinations of the NFL; TV revenues, labor negotiations, drafts, player contracts, training camps, and combines. But no juicy, human interest stories that make the players, owners, coaches, et. al. any more real than they are on game day.
Maske missed a golden opportunity to provide a valuable addition to the body of sports literature. The NFC East deserved better, and so do its fans.
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