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on 19 November 2017
Well worth a read. Written by a journalist and I think this makes the difference. The book is a very special account of just how well groomed and feted these young men are. Worth noting the mis-balancei in school expenditure for football versus books! Also sad to see just how so very quickly injury takes their futures away, especially amongst those who without a scholarship will find normal life very hard. The panthers are special in that they very much punch above their weight. Very few made it to college on a football scholarship (1 I think) but yet they were almost year on year one of the best performing teams. The description of the final is fantastic and perhaps shows the authors sports journalism off to its best. The book is also a very read and I don't mean that in a bad way. The central characters have real lifes, have rea flaws,have normal human needs and yet preform as professional sportsmen every Friday from the age of 15! It is also interesting to read about social and race segregation along economic lines in Texas and how those barriers could be quickly lifted if you can catch, read a play, hold a defensive line or throw a ball with sniper like accuracy. Well worth the time taken to read it. Thought provoking and romantic.
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on 26 June 2017
Without trying to be too political, if you're a parent in the U.K. and you're worried about your child's head teacher preaching, "Non competitive participation" then chuck a copy of this on their desk. On the whole it was a great read and without revealing too much it's a great insight into how some US schools prioatise subjects. It also gets very close to the main characters and the different pressures they are under at what should be a vital time in their education( this was a bonus as my son was just about to start his GCSE's so gave me a few pointers of what not to say). I would definitely recommend this book to anyone especially sports fans to see how almost impossible it is to even get on the first step of the ladder to any decent level never mind the top.
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on 4 August 2017
One of the best books ever! Really gives you an insight of the pressure of American Football. Definitely recommend reading this. Every single page is so interesting.
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on 23 October 2017
Friday Night Lights is raw, unflinching and hard-hitting, yet woven together with a sparkling thread of something truly special – it isn’t hard to see why this is regarded as one of the best sporting books of all time.

In itself, the actual concept of the book seems fairly straightforward. A journalist undertakes an experiment in which he will shadow a high school football team for a season, documenting the highs and lows throughout the year. Of course, though, nothing is ever that simple. In truth, the hard knocks and sensational victories of high school football in a town with nothing else to live for are what make this book so special.

At the start, we are introduced to each key member of the team, getting to know them both on and off the field. This is vital, as soon we view the players as unique individuals rather than just another indistinguishable member of the team. We learn their strengths and weaknesses, their likes, dislikes, hopes, dreams and background. We feel as though we know each boy personally – but as a whole, we are rooting for the team to succeed.

With this in mind, Friday Night Lights is much more than just a book about a football team; it is also a social commentary. At the time of the novel, the US was facing a host of issues ranging from the economic downturn to concerns of class and racism – and nowhere more so than the desolate Texan oil belt. Instead of shying away from such issues, Bissinger isn’t afraid to mention the grittier side of life, seamlessly integrating it with the trials and tribulations of the football year.

It’s beautifully written, it’s hard-hitting, and it’s a book that will stick with you for a long time after you have finished reading the last sentence.
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on 10 July 1999
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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on 20 November 1998
I read Friday Night Lights by Buzz Bissinger approximately three years ago. I have just re-read it after having finished "Our Guys" by Bernanrd Lefkowitz, the tragic tale of a town where the star football team members rape a retarded woman and how it's dealt with (or perhaps more accurately -- all but denied) by the town.Lights is a compelling read that makes it easy to hang on to even if one isn't the greatest fan of football. In reading a number of other reviews on this book, I view many of those as defensive reactions from people of the town or from some who know people of the town. This is sad because Lights isn't an indictment of Odessa, Texas. It is EVERYTOWN, USA. There is a great deal of U.S. universality to the story. Yes, one town was spotlighted. Often this is how we learn our greatest lessons in life... by observing human behavior in one setting and considering how it applies to ourselves and the places we live -- to our little world.Bissinger didn't betray the citizens of Odessa. He was not an "undercover" agent spying on them. The people of the town knew he was a reporter; apparently quite a likeable one. Why they expected the lionization of their town and their team as a result of the fact that the reporter was a nice guy is beyond me. Bissinger has proven himself to be an outstanding and objective observer of the culture of Odessa. And, while I don't personally know him, he had nothing against Odessa as a town and probably still doesn't (although he did receive death threats as a result of the book so I don't if that has by now changed his view at all.)Bissinger did what a good journalist does; he told the story of his objective observations. Unfortunately, from this reader's perspective, not a fun or loving or wonderful story. More accurately, I see Lights as a tragic flaw in the culture of our country. When we take kids, encourage them in what I consider one of the most violent sports we consider legitimate, turn them in to "legends" -- albeit only temporarily (while they're playing and winning), we collaborate in physical and psychological damage to our young people. When it's over, most of them have trouble putting it all in perspective -- some never do. They are forever wandering looking for the exhiliration of the attention, the cheers, the fans and the rush they experienced while a member of a winning football team. That we allow this in the midst of one of the most sensitive and critical periods in a human being's life -- adolescence -- makes it even more dangerous, with greater psychological than even physical risk, in a very physically dangerous sport.I tend to disagree with Bissinger that Football became so important for almost every member of that small down because of all that they had lost they needed something to hang on to.This story is an upper, middle and lower class story. It is every town. It is every high school and college that offers Football.I think the lessons we need to consider as a result of this masterfully narrated story are deep annd important ones. What should -- not what is -- be important to the educational and socialization process for the young of our society. For me, I've come to the conclusion that if we continue to allow Football to be played in this country, we need to change the rules. We need to much more intensively educate teachers, coaches, parents and kids themselves on keeping the "sport" in proper perspective. I'm not personally convinced it's doable. I have to conclude that while we have some nice catchphrases to describe this sport (among others in the same category) and its values -- teamwork, competition, physical fitness, working with others, discipline etc... and on and on, IT'S ALWAYS GOING TO BE ABOUT WINNING. After the "win," I'm convinced there's a degree of cultural addiction to the violence in this game. Go to any football game and watch the fans instead of the game; any observer will see a very significant number in attendance who are screaming for more aggression, more violence -- and are taking some very significant psychological satisfaction from it. Exactly what needs are being met in this vicarious manner likely depend on the individual. Yet, what I have the most trouble with is a large majority of our society meeting their own needs for aggression through small groups of very vulnerable younger members of our society. This is unconscionable, it in my personal view is deeply immoral. If we're looking for a better human being in our generations to come, it might be well to consider how to address issues of violence. That this is regulated violence makes no difference at all. We can't keeping using kids to meet unmet needs that we ourselves may have. This is a paricularly urgent lesson for parents. Far too many parents are using/abusing/allowing their offssspring to be physically and psychologically abused in order to try to relive their own "glory days" or in trying to finally attain through their kids, the heights, they themselves were unable to reach in their earlier lives and now regret. We have names for this from the simple word scapegoating to more complex psychological diagnoses called Munchaussen's by Proxy where a disturbed individual uses someone else, quite often their own children, to deliberately cause physical harm to as a result of their own deeply disturbed self imaages. Maybe it's time to stop and consider education and socialization a little more carefully and consider what's best for kids and the society of tomorrow. I can only help but conclude that part of the solution would involve immediately cutting Tackle Football, Ice Hockey, Boxing and Competitive Weight Lifting. While there may be some ostensible higher order of value to any of these sports, generally the realization of that expected "value" is most often forsaken in the need to win, in the domination that occurs and with the more likely result of often permanent physical and psychological damage -- both for men's and women's teams.Thanks Bissinger, you've offered a real eye opener to any of your readers that may work toward a better society for tomorrow. Outstanding!
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on 13 March 2007
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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on 11 May 1999
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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on 29 March 1999
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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on 21 February 2011
I wanted to make sure I left a review for this book, because it really is one of the best I've read in all respects. The amount of time, energy, money and pure desire that everyone in the town puts into this American football team is unbelievable. From a British perspective it really is something else, totally unfamiliar to my own experiences of sport in this country. The unity of the community behind the team, and the fact that so many fans seem to be living vicariously through through the Permian football team in intriguing and somewhat terrifying. Players are slabs of meat on a production line, which 99 times of 100 leads to no real career or college study. The dreams of players seem sure to happen, but almost never seem to materialise. They strive for perfection, and nothing less will satisfy. The pressure that these teenagers feel must be immense. The rapidity with which players get replaced is incredible, such is the pool of players ready to fill their shoes in an instant. Another thing that is often represented in film is the popularity and seemingly invincibility of the football team at school, and this is prevalent throughout the book. Students getting false exam marks to ensure they can play, corrupt teachers and violent debates if anything goes against the players. The way some of the players act in the real world, especially near the end of the book is outrageous, as they obviously feel as though nothing and nobody can challenge them.

A lot of this book is about the back stories of players, fans, parents and the town and area of Texas itself, and this is no less interesting. Racial tension is apparent throughout the book, as are the differences in the gender roles between players and cheerleaders. It really gives you the feel for the context of the town and the lives of its inhabitants. It is depressing at times, but hey, that's the reality of life, it's no fairy tale. I for one think it is a fantastic book, and it seems the vast majority of reviewers agree. If you are looking for an simple sports story then this isn't for you as you won't find it. However, this is so much more than that. If you are interested in American football, American society or even simply true human events then you should definitely read this. It really makes you think, it shows how fickle people can be, and how attached people can get to a sports team - fanatically so. It is not a work of phenomenal literature, but rather a brutally honest depiction of life in one of the bleakest areas of northern America, and a study of the unhealthy attachment that sport draws. Read it.
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