Sunday, May 11, 2008

Book Review: New Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football

One of my recurring themes in doing these books reviews is that there have been a number of excellent books on baseball, but not as many on football. In particular, one thing that's difficult to find is a soup-to-nuts explanation explanation of exactly what the heck is (supposed to be) going on in the 22-man ballet that is a football play. Difficult to find, but not impossible. That book is The New Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football by Paul Zimmerman, aka Dr. Z of Sports Illustrated fame. That "New" in the title? It's the 1984 update to the original Thinking Man's Guide, which was published in 1970, the same year as Saturday's America, which I just panned as a period piece. I acquired my copy of New Thinking Man's Guide about eight years ago, and, in scanning through it in preparation for writing this review, it still noticeably speaks to the modern game. Not quite the same, since it is a quarter-century old, but the same world. There have been more recent books in a similar vein, which I'll probably be reviewing here in the time to come, but by all accounts, this is probably still the best one. Hopefully there'll be a new version coming out at some point in the future (column indications say Z's newest book is more a memoir than an updated version, alas), but until then New Thinking Man's Guide is still an indispensable part of the smart football fan's library. Enthusiastically recommended.

1 comment:

Jon said...

I wind up rereading this one every year and Zimmerman may be the best sportswriter I ever read. Such command of the English language. And he was able to coax great quotes from his subjects. Maybe it was a more candid era, but this is still one of the best books I've read on sports.