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The Test: My Autobiography
The Test: My Autobiography
by Brian O'Driscoll
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A little vanilla, 29 Jun. 2015
Interesting, but not fascinating. Brian O’Driscoll was a world-class rugby player, but this is not a world-class autobiography. It’s more of a decent club-standard autobiography. No great revelations, little opinion: O’Driscoll is generally genial, non-offensive and a little bland. The start of the book in particular lacks much insight, it’s as though the ghostwriter has put together the first few years of O’Driscoll’s rugby career from press cuttings rather than the man himself – perhaps O’Driscoll doesn’t have a great recall of his early years? I gets better in the later years of his career, particularly as O’Driscoll recognises that his career is coming towards and end and is approaching retirement. Still an interesting read, but not as good as I hoped.


The Life and Times of Herbert Chapman: The Story of One of Football's Most Influential Figures
The Life and Times of Herbert Chapman: The Story of One of Football's Most Influential Figures
by Patrick Barclay
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of times, 15 Jun. 2015
The title says it all, really. This is “the life” of Herbert Chapman, most famous for winning the league title and FA Cup as manager of Huddersfield Town and Arsenal. But it is often glossed over in favour of “the times” of Herbert Chapman – the author doesn’t leave any opportunity for a digression or diversion from his main subject. We are told about the formation of the Football League, footballers in the First World War, we are given a potted biography of many characters that we stumble across. But we are also told about many things which are irrelevant to the life of Herbert Chapman: the political career of Oswald Moseley and the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde to name but two. They may be interesting, but the many digressions divert attention away from Herbert Chapman, which is a shame.


100 Things Red Sox Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (100 Things... Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die)
100 Things Red Sox Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (100 Things... Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die)
by Nick Cafardo
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.74

4.0 out of 5 stars Great gift for Red Sox fans, 8 Jun. 2015
The title says it all, really. This is a list of facts from the history of the Boston Red Sox, updated to take in the 2013 World Series win. There's definitely a leaning towards the modern day, with lots about the Red Sox victories of 2013, 2007 and 2004. But there is a sprinkling on early history, including Fenway Park and Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams also features prominently. A great gift for Red Sox fans.


10 for 10: Hedley Verity and the Story of Cricket's Greatest Bowling Feat
10 for 10: Hedley Verity and the Story of Cricket's Greatest Bowling Feat
by Chris Waters
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.68

5.0 out of 5 stars Small but prefectly formed, 1 Jun. 2015
Hedley Verity is the player with the best recorded bowling figures - ten wickets for ten runs, for Yorkshire against Derbyshire. Chris Waters tells the story of that innings in this small book. However, it is refreshing that Waters doesn't feel the need to pad out the book with extraneous background, contextualising and analysis - all those things are present here, but other cricket writers and historians should take note: cricket writing is too often overwritten,stuffy and dry. Well done Chris Waters.


Blood, Sweat and Treason
Blood, Sweat and Treason
Price: £2.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Brave and thoughtful, 25 May 2015
Henry Olonga’s protest against the Mugabe regime in his own country, Zimbabwe, effectively ended his international cricket career. It also put his entire future in jeopardy, leading to exile from his country. In his autobiography, Olonga explains why he chose to make such a public protest, as well as describing his career and how he became the first black cricketer to play for Zimbabwe. Olonga is a thoughtful man and explains his decisions well – not just the protest, but other key moments in his life. Olonga refers a few times to a relationship with a girlfriend which affects his state of mind and decision making, but chooses not to go into detail on this aspect of his personal life. However, that minor quibble aside, it is still a worthwhile read.


500-1: The Miracle of Headingley '81
500-1: The Miracle of Headingley '81
Price: £9.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Staccato and repetitive, 18 May 2015
I’d been looking forward to this, but I was left feeling disappointed. The 1981 Ashes series, and the Headingley match in particular, were iconic. This book covers both and includes everything you’d expect, but the structure grated on me. The chapters covering each day of the Test match begin with a contemporary-style account (which doesn’t really work), then is followed by first-person testimony, then is followed by a more typical third-person description. It’s very stop-start and staccato and a little repetitive. I also didn’t like the individual profiles of the players on each team – the Wikipedia-style biographies became a bit of a chore to read through. A missed opportunity.


October 1964
October 1964
Price: £6.64

5.0 out of 5 stars Halberstam's second baseball classic, 11 May 2015
This review is from: October 1964 (Kindle Edition)
Halberstam’s Summer of 49 told the tale of the 1949 baseball season, in particular the race for the American League pennant by the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. In this book, he looks at the World Series between the Yankees and the St Louis Cardinals – often seen as closing of the golden age of the Yankees. Just like the first, this is insightful and detailed without straying into dullness. Great personalities, great events and great baseball.


Stuck on You: The Rise & Fall... & Rise of Panini Stickers
Stuck on You: The Rise & Fall... & Rise of Panini Stickers
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, 27 April 2015
A book about football sticker collections. Sounds like a great idea! I expected something a little more tongue-in-cheek and irreverent, but this is actually a serious history of Panini and Merlin and their various competitors, and the at times cut-throat business of flogging packs of stickers to kids. Serious collectors will see this as the ultimate history of their hobby, others will see it as an opportunity to reminisce about their childhoods.


Summer of '49
Summer of '49
Price: £5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Baseball classic, 13 April 2015
This review is from: Summer of '49 (Kindle Edition)
1949, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox are in a race for the pennant (for those who don’t know a huge amount about baseball, the race for the American League title). Halberstam covers the season from the point of view of both teams, taking in some baseball greats: Joe Di Maggio, Ted Williams, Yogi Berra... This is really well written, detailed without becoming boring, some great anecdotes and stories. The number of players and officials that Halberstam interviewed really shines through. You’ll want to have an interest in baseball, but as long as you do, this is a great read.


Football Against The Enemy
Football Against The Enemy
by Simon Kuper
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Trailblazing football book, 30 Mar. 2015
When it was published, Football Against the Enemy was one of the first serious studies on football and its wider place in society. Twenty years on, I don't think it has the same impact. The world has changed too much - the places he went to have often changed beyond all recognition, as have many of the teams, and it's difficult to keep the reader as engaged now that it's more a work of history rather than a contemporary account. However, this will always be a trailblazer in sports writing and if you want a survey of football in the mid-nineties, this is still worth a read.


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