Sunday, May 8, 2011

Book Review: HIGH STRUNG: Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, and the Untold Story of Tennis’s Fiercest Rivalry

My favorite part of HIGH STRUNG is the awesome 70s & 80s pics of the awesome hairdos! Seriously though, I was excited to get this book to review to read about this interesting piece of tennis history.

One was an ice-cold Swede with an aura of invincibility. A poster boy for the sport who was equal parts enigma and Adonis. He was tennis’s version of a matinee idol. He was a Houdini in a headband who could outlast opponents for thrilling comeback victories. He was obsessive, unflappable, and unbeatable on grass and clay. They called him “Ice Borg”.

The other was the poster boy for everything that was wrong with Western society. He was a left-handed lightning rod who sought confrontation with nearly every living being on the court while he was in the midst of battle. He yelled at umpires and linesmen loudly and with reckless abandon. He was an exact balance of talent and the temper, perfect biomechanics and boorishness. They called him “Superbrat”.

With all of their differences, their battles were pure tennis magic, and their rivalry the stuff of sports legend. Stephen Tignor’s “HIGH STRUNG: Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, and the Untold Story of Tennis's Fiercest Rivalry” (Harper, May 2011) is a marvelously articulated chronicle of the matches that defined the rivalry and the personalities that fueled it.

Both were exceedingly talented. John McEnroe represented the blinding heat of youth. Bjorn Borg was the epitome of cool control. McEnroe externalized everything. Borg’s competitive fires burned deep within him. McEnroe respected Borg and was driven by the desire to unseat him as the world’s #1. Borg was already a legend and sought to remain as the most dominant player in the sport. McEnroe found refuge in the rivalry. Borg found his final opponent.

You can get your copy here.


I was quite excited to get this book to review since I'm a not only a fan of golf but a huge fan of quick, easily digestible reading. This most definitely fit both criteria. For example, who won't appreciate a list entitled, "Great Caddyshack Pick-up Lines"? Most of the quotes come from the Rodney Dangerfield character, of course. "You must have been something before electricity." Epic.

This spring, as golfers everywhere dust off their clubs and begin the long-overdue march to the 1st tee, celebrated golf writers Leonard Shapiro and Ed Sherman aim to fill our heads with all things “golf” and present GOLF LIST MANIA!: The Most Authoritative and Opinionated Rankings of the Best and Worst of the Game (Running Press, May 2011), a comprehensive record of epic moments and massive disappointments, of major heroes and Sunday breakdowns, and of sage advice.

GOLF LIST MANIA! is a celebration of golf. These are our favorite subjects as fans, players, and major championship junkies: Tiger, the Shark, Sarazen’s double eagle, Miller’s 63, Van de Velde’s collapse, Sergio’s light résumé, Lefty’s greatest hits and near misses, Jack’s second places and Feherty’s acerbic wit. Shapiro and Sherman effortlessly compare 2nd rank events and personalities over decades and generations and leave the reader entertained and raring to go for that next tee time.

Top-10 graduates of the Nationwide Tour? There’s a list for that. Top-10 Aussies of all-time? Yep. Top-10 golf movies? Please. Ten best Korean LPGA players? There’s a list for that too. If it’s happened in golf over the last century or so, GOLF LIST MANIA! has it covered.

And interspersed throughout GOLF LIST MANIA! are some of the great golf quotes from some of the most famous and infamous golfers, thinkers, and personalities who ever shanked a three-iron: Bob Hope, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, Alistair Cooke, John Updike, Phyllis Diller, Gerald Ford, Will Rogers, Billy Graham, Heywood Hale Broun, Rick Reilly, Jack Lemmon, Hank Aaron; black-and-white photos of golfers who’ve shaped the golf world, past and present; as well as guest-lists from some of the great sources of golf-knowledge in the game: Dan Jenkins, John Feinstein, Lance Barrow, Peter Kessler, et al. GOLF LIST MANIA! is about as much fun as a golfer can have with his soft spikes off. For some, it might be more fun.

You can get your copy here.

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