Idols of the Game: A Sporting History of the American Century

Robert Lipsyte, Author, Peter Levine, Author Turner Publications Inc $23.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-57036-154-8
Lipsyte, a columnist for the New York Times, and Levine, a professor of history at Michigan State University, here compile profiles of 16 prominent American athletes that explore the cultural significance their careers had on American society. The authors start with boxer John L. Sullivan, ``America's first great sports idol,'' who would come to epitomize the young, rough-and-tumble America of the 20th century. Babe Ruth was big, boisterous and could hit the long ball--the apotheosis of the Roaring '20s. Jackie Robinson, the one-man civil rights movement: ``It was the first time a black man shook a stick at a white man,'' said comedian Dick Gregory, ``and 50,000 white people cheered.'' Vince Lombardi, football coach extraordinaire, ``who was packed and sold by the NFL... as a teacher of life, a prophet of piety and patriotism, and a social engineer.'' And Michael Jordan, basketball icon and ultimate pitchman, takes us up to the '90s. Also profiled are Jack Johnson, Jim Thorpe, Knute Rockne, Babe Didrikson, Joe Louis, Mickey Mantle, Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Martina Navratilova. A diverse, if not particularly insightful, look at the American athlete as symbol. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1995
Release date: 10/01/1995
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