Jim's Pseudo-Intellectual Book Club: Vol. XXIX
OK, pseudo-intellectuals, it's time to huddle up. Your quarterback plans to go deep with another hard-hitting recommendation, and he'd appreciate a little protection on his blind side. Actually, he'd appreciate a lot of protection because, after reading Michael Lewis' "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game" he's learned just how much jeopardy quarterbacks are in when they face a furious rush from oversized, hyper-quick defensive linemen.
While a great tutorial about the game of football and how it's played on both sides of the ball, "The Blind Side" is essentially about people like Tom Lemming, the Illinois-based talent scout, Bill Walsh, the NFL coach who revolutionized the passing game, and Lawrence Taylor, the ferocious pass rusher.
But most of all, it's about Michael Oher, now a junior at the University of Mississippi and his serendipitious ascent from the poverty of Memphis, Tenn.
If Lewis' name rings a bell, it should. He's terrific writer and the author of "Moneyball," a previous recommendation in this column. He applied his particular genius to the intricacies of baseball in that book, showing a new way for fans to understand and evaluate strategy, and he's done the same thing for football in "The Blind Side."
Using specific individiduals to illustrate his points, Lewis examines offensive and defensive strategies that constantly change as one side tries to counter the other. But he also goes beyond the game itself to an examination of the world from which a large segment of today's football talent comes. Many of these athletes are poor and black, and they come with nothing and, if they're not good enough to play professional ball, often leave with nothing after the last game is played.
Oher, a left tackle, stands out as an exception. He possesses extraordinary talent and plays a crucial, skill position. Oher also was lucky enough to draw the attention of a wealthy and well-intentioned Memphis family who gave him a home, a life and a future.
This is an excellent books about sports. But it could just as easily fit in the sociology section of your local bookstore. No matter what your preference, it's well worth the time.
Here are revious recommendations from Jim's Pseudo-Intellectual Book Club.
[–] "Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission" by Hampton Sides.
[–] "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" by Edmund Morris.
[–] "A Night to Remember" by Walter Lord.
[–] "April 1865: The Month That Saved America" by Jay Winik.
[–] "Seabiscuit: An American Legend" by Laura Hillenbrand.
[–) "Lindbergh" by A. Scott Berg.
[–] "The Kennedy Men: 1901-1963" by Laurence Leamer.
[–] "The Brother: The Untold Story of the Rosenberg Case" by Sam Roberts.
[–] "Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy" by Jane Leavy.
[–] "Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions" by Ben Mezrich.
[–] "Harry & Ike: The Partnership That Remade the Post-War World" by Steve Neal.
[–] "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game" by Michael Lewis.
[–] "Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley & Livingstone" by Martin Dugard.
[–] "In Harms Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors" by Doug Stanton.
[–] "Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34." by Bryan Burrough.
[–] "Flags of our Fathers," by James Bradley.
[–] "Cary Grant: A Biography" by Marc Elliot.
[–] "Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager" by Buzz Bissinger.
[–] "Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York" by Kenneth Ackerman.
[–] "They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967" by David Maraniss.
[–] "Flashman" (a novel) by George MacDonald Fraser.
[–] "Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling and A World on the Brink" by David Margolick.
[–] "Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics and the Battle for the Soul of a City" by Jonathan Mahler.
[–] "Five Families: the Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires" by Selwyn Raab.
[–] "The Rivalry: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and the Golden Age of Basketball." by John Taylor.
[–] "American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies" by Michael Kauffman.
[–] "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11" by Lawrence Wright.
[–] "A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood's Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports" by Brad Snyder.