Tuesday, October 21, 2014

American Pastimes: The Very Best of Red Smith

American Pastimes: The Very Best of Red Smith (The Library of America)
Daniel Okrent, editor. Afterword by Terence Smith
Hardcover: 560 pages
Publisher: Library of America (May 16, 2013)

When people think of great sportswriters, Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith is one of the first names that come to mind.  With a nationally syndicated column in both the New York Herald Tribune and New York Times, Smith was widely read from the 1940s through his retirement in the 1980s.  He was the first sportswriter to have won the Pullitzer Prize for commentary.

His sports commentaries came with literary panache and wry humor.

Writer and editor Daniel Okrent presents the best of Smith's columns.  His work, to this day, remains the gold standard in sportswriting.  It still shows many years later.

 Smith's profiles of some of the biggest figures in sports show how he can distill a career's essence in just one column.  There are the accounts of some of the most historic occasions in sports and they are joined by some of the more offbeat stories that display the writer's wit, intelligence, and feeling.

We get some personal glimpses into Red's life and work such as his passion for fishing.  "My Press-Box Memoirs", a 1975 reminiscence written for Esquire, is collected here for the first time.

Any aspiring sportswriter or sports fan in general will want to read this book.

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