cover image One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game

One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game

John Feinstein. Little, Brown, $27.99 (544p) ISBN 978-0-316-07904-4

Sports take a backseat to covering sports in this feisty, full-contact memoir. Sportswriter Feinstein (A Season on the Brink) recounts his exploits gathering material for his bestselling sports epics, from his celebrated sagas of college basketball seasons to insider tell-alls on pro tennis, golf, and the Army-Navy football rivalry. In his account of the sportswriter’s game, everything comes down to access; there are innumerable scenes in which he chases down media-shy athletes and coaches, dodges interfering PR flacks, breaks through defensive lines of security guards to the locker room, and even faces down Czech KGB goons during the Cold War to interview the mother of a defected hockey player. Feinstein kept his scorecards and settles them with swipes at everyone from meddling editors and obstructionist league officials to legendary Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight—great access, obnoxious behavior—and the allegedly odious Tiger Woods (“Here’s hoping, seriously, that at some point in his life he can find joy in something other than stepping on people’s necks and filling his pockets”). The sports themselves usually get eclipsed by Feinstein’s relentless access seeking, but his punchy, evocative prose and irreverent jabs at superstars make for lively play-by-play. Photos. (Dec. 5)