American Sports [4 volumes]: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas

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9780313397523: American Sports [4 volumes]: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas
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America loves sports. This book examines and details the proof of this fascination seen throughout American society―in our literature, film, and music; our clothing and food; and the iconography of the nation.

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About the Author:

Murry R. Nelson, PhD, is professor emeritus of education and American Studies at Penn State University, University Park. He holds a doctorate from Stanford University.

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In spite of the enormous amount of possibilities for inclusion on the topic, editor Nelson does an admirable job of collecting in excess of 480 entries written by more than 140 contributors. The varied subject matter of the articles reveals the broad swath that sports has cut in American culture. Multipage articles on all-time cultural icons are included, as expected (including names ingrained in the American psyche, such as Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, and Tiger Woods). Less expected topics that are relevant and intriguing are also present. For example, who knew that the namesake for the iconic Chuck Taylor sneakers barnstormed the country showing off his ability to successfully make a basket from 70 feet away by drop-kicking the ball? Readers will also encounter Charlie Brown’s sporting frustrations and Snoopy’s victories in the entry for Charles Schultz. However, the ambitious scope of this four-volume reference readily lends itself to the scrutiny of sports enthusiasts. (As a fan of professional sports in New England, this reviewer was shocked that there are no entries for Boston Garden, Tom Brady, Johnny Most, Bobby Orr, or Carl Yastrzemski.) But, overall, this reference work has something to offer for all readers with an interest in sports and American culture. Although the writing from entry to entry is a bit rote at times, American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas is an entertaining reference work that will appeal to the casual sports fan as well as high-school and college students seeking a beginning point for a sports-related research project. --Jim Frutchey

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