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on 3 November 2002
John Patrick McEnroe, born in 1959, was the world's best player between 1980 and 1984. He has won 76 singles titles, of which 7 Grand Slam, and 76 doubles titles. Nowadays he is one of the best (perhaps even the best) tennis commentator.
In this book McEnroe discusses his childhood, his rise to tennis fame and success, his fantastic 1980 and 1981 Wimbledon-finals against Bjorn Borg, his marriage to actress Tatum O'Neal, becoming a father (eventually six times!), his slow slide down the rankings, his divorce from Tatum O'Neal, his rock 'n roll career, the start of his art gallery in New York, meeting his second wife Patty Smyth, and being a father of six children. He also discusses his current work as tennis commentator for both US and UK television.
Although I am/was a huge John McEnroe-fan I am slightly disappointed with this autobiography. Yes, it does shine some light on the magical tennis player, but it does not go very deep. There are not many details and he remains mostly at the surface. In all honesty, he comes across as selfish and childish (for example: his divorce from Tatum O'Neal was her fault, his slide down the tennis rankings was also not his own fault.) Just like some other readers I expected more as that is what autobiographies are about. However, for John McEnroe-fans like myself it is a MUST.
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on 5 August 2003
I enjoyed this autobiography. I had initially approached it with some scepticism thinking it would just be a boring catalogue of long past achievements. It is a list of achievements but with the fresh and welcome spin of John McEnroe revealing his feelings and thought processes at each conquest and each low.
He reviews his past triumphs and failures from the perspective of the man he is today and gives an insight into his emotions at the time, and with transparent honesty, evaluates the merit or otherwise of those reactions and is admirably self-critical. He is also very truthful about his view of others and does not hide his likes and dislikes. However, he strives to be fair and always attempts to see things at least partially from the other point of view. It is obvious that this does not always come easily and somethings still grate with him, however, credit must be given for his gracious pursuit of balance and for leaving things unsaid, as required. He could so easily have launched into a vitriolic diatribe against all the injustices, perceived or otherwise, directed at him and used his book as a vehicle for revenge. Having said that, he pulls no punches but manages this without going over the top, unlike in some of the tennis matches he played during his career. It can also be seen that, reading between the lines, he looks back on some of the incidents with a quiet and nostalgic humour and this is appealing.
McEnroe comes over as an edgy, quick to anger guy, who is basically a decent, even likeable, man with a passion for his sport. His appeal for me comes from the memories of the fantastic entertainment he provided for all those years when he was at or near the top of his game. Now he informs and entertains through his precise and in-depth television commentary.
As with most books of this genre the layout is more or less chronological. However, sometimes the dates seem to jump around a bit and it is quite easy to lose track of the year being referenced, especially later on. Also in the latter parts of the book there is a tendency in places to over digress and this can lead to the passage wandering out of context. But these gripes aside, for anyone with the merest passing interest in tennis or John McEnroe, this book can be easily recommended.
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on 18 July 2002
One of the most fascinating, and at times disturbing, accounts of one of the most (in)famous tennis players of the Open era.
Whether you loved or hated the Super Brat, admired his skill,or despised his behaviour, this autobiography is a candid and reflective look by McEnroe over his life, with special focus on the past twenty five turbalent years in the public eye.
For all tennis fans, (even for those whose interest is only alight during a certain fortnight in June!)this book takes you into the mind of one of the greatest sporting icons of the 20th Century.
Natuarlly, like any autobiography, there are moments when the reader will raise an eyebrow at the occasional egotistical comment or assumption but these just add to the flavour that is J.P.M. If, like the majority of us mortals, you realise that the chances of ever being able to take McEnroe down to the pub for a drink are remote, this book is a good substitute! With its laid back style and cynical approach by the time you have finshed it you will be willing to buy the bloke a pint!!
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on 18 August 2003
I read this book as a genuinely like John McEnroe and think he comes across as intelligent and funny. I was half expecting the usual catalogue of wins, but I found this book to be honest and very engaging. I think it helped that I well remember the McEnroe era and the sometimes vitriolic competiveness between McEnroe, Connors, Nastasie, Borg et al. I'm not sure a younger reader would enjoy this book as much (alas). Fiona, aged 38 and a half.
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on 15 July 2003
Quite simply, I was unable to put this down once I had started. Charting the one-time Superbrat's mesmeric rise to the top of world tennis, the self-doubt and loneliness at the top of the sporting mountain, and the inevitable battle against slowing reflexes and aching limbs as age inevitably caought up with him.
Like all of us, McEnroe comes across as an incredibly complex character, blessed with the talent, drive, and necessary arrogance to fight his way to the top, while revealing insight into his attempt to have an ordinary life away from the tennis, which only in the last few years he appears able to do.
After finishing the last page, you felt like you really knew the man himself, rather than just his public persona.
Both motivational, uplifting and sad at the same time, it truly shows you how dreams can be acheived if only you want them badly enough.
If I had read this book ten years ago, then maybe I would have acheived mine. Read it!
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on 18 October 2002
I suppose if McEnroe were British we'd call him dour and put him down for the Geoff Boycott School of Singlemindedness. As it is he's American, so his seriousness is probably why we love him more than most transatlantic visitors to these shores.
The book is an entertaining enough read while never breaking out of the conventional. His childhood and development to a tennis playing teenager are reassuring for me as the parent of two sport-obsessed kids. His surprise at his initial success is handled with humility but once he gets to the top he never seems to smile again.
The stories from his period at the top flow thick and fast and keep it going at a good rate but rationalising of his personnal life at the start and end of the book are something I could have done without. When will sportsmen learn that readers read their books for an insight into the game and their stories from inside the game? Marital break-ups, etc are part of their life, but have normally received more than enough coverage in the newspapers.
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on 19 November 2003
I loved this book! He's such a strong personality, he writes well and he has a great sense of humour that comes through page after page. Johnny Mac really knows how to laugh at himself, which makes this book all the more engaging and entertaining. But he also comes across as honest, and the insights into the players' world, and how they think and feel during matches and after are enjoyable. Buy it. You will love it too.
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on 20 July 2015
Really gave me an understanding of his character, a very passionate, loyal and sentimentel man. Makes sense how he played on the tennis circuit. Someone with honesty and a sense of justice. This book tells it, like it is.
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on 20 December 2013
A very enjoyable read. An argument could definitely be made for McEnroe being the most well known tennis player of all time. It is a highly unusual combination for a person to not only be the best in the world in their field but also the biggest personality as well. This is a well written book and praise must be given to McEnroe for being so honest and forthright with his opinions. Love him or loathe him you can be sure of two things about Johnny Mac. One, he was genuinely one of the greatest tennis players who ever lived and two he did and will tell you exactly what he thinks.
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on 15 June 2015
I love Mac and this book made me understand him more but I didn't think it was as well written as Agassi's "Open." I guess Agassi got a better ghost writer? If you're a Mac fan, definitely read this.
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