Books by Mark Ribowsky

SHULA by Mark Ribowsky
Released: Aug. 27, 2019

"Must reading for budding coaches and a solid work of sports biography."
Well-paced, anecdotal life of the great NFL coach by well-practiced biographer Ribowsky (In the Name of the Father: Family, Football, and the Manning Dynasty, 2018, etc.). Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 7, 2018

"The book has its moments, but not enough to overcome Ribowsky's flubs and irksome penchant for mockery."
An in-depth look at American football royalty. Read full book review >
HANK by Mark Ribowsky
Released: Nov. 22, 2016

"It's not every 29-year-old who can pack enough into a life to warrant a 500-page biography—and a good one at that."
"Everything he did was bad for his health": a sturdy biography of the unsteady icon of outlaw country avant la lettre. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2016

"Just another in the onslaught of rock bios and memoirs—a disappointing follow-up to the author's excellent Dreams to Remember."
A biography that confirms both the best and the worst that fans have heard about the archetypal 1970s singer/songwriter. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2015

"Excellent from start to finish, demanding a soundtrack of Stax hits as background listening."
Intellectually complex life of Otis Redding (1941-1967), the doomed King of Soul. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2015

"Serviceable but often floridly overwritten. Though Ribowsky accuses the band's current incarnation and those who market the legacy of 'mercenary profit motive,' the same charge could be leveled at the book."
Straightforward biography of the Southern rock band. Read full book review >
THE LAST COWBOY by Mark Ribowsky
Released: Nov. 4, 2013

"A must-read for fans of 'America's Team' and, given Landry's impact on the game, for Cowboy haters too."
A prolific sportswriter submits a meaty biography of one of the NFL's legendary coaches. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 14, 2011

"The definitive word on a loved, loathed, maddeningly complex broadcasting legend."
You could make a case that Howard Cosell (1918-1995) was the single most important sports broadcaster ever. You would be right. Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2009

"Overwritten and overtly sensational."
Acrid biography of the biggest female vocal group of all time. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1996

An accomplished chronicler of baseball's Negro Leagues (Don't Look Back: Satchel Paige in the Shadows of Baseball, 1994, etc.) attempts to reclaim from myth the true character of a man best known as the ``Black Babe Ruth.'' Between 1928 and 1946, a time that featured such greats as Leroy ``Satchel'' Paige, Judy Johnson, and ``Cool Papa'' Bell, Josh Gibson was possibly black baseball's greatest attraction. Gibson's career spanned what, for all black players, were times of famine, feast, and, later, uncertainty arising from the major leagues' eradication of the color barrier. Through careful and facile use of a wealth of first- and second-hand accounts (including interviews with the slugger's son Josh Jr.), the author exposes to a wide audience for the first time how Gibson hid his indiscretions behind the massive shadow of his own fame and imposing physique. Persistent image-mongering by the black and white media of the `30s and his bosses, team-owners Cumberland ``Cum'' Posey of the Homestead Grays and W. Augustus ``Gus'' Greenlee of the Crawfords, kept Gibson's drinking, drug use, and womanizing out of the spotlight until they finally overwhelmed him, contributing to this death in 1947 from a stroke; he was 35. Ribowsky places the roots of Gibson's self-destructiveness in his inability to face emotional crises—including his wife Helen's sudden death in childbirth in 1930 and the manipulation by black and white organizers and promoters throughout his career—as defiantly as he faced the best pitchers of the day. The temptations of life on the road were also a factor (when not playing in the Negro Leagues, Gibson barnstormed off-season and played winter ball in Latin America). Ribowsky lays bare Gibson's ``tortured soul.'' This exemplary and long-overdue work demonstrates that Gibson took himself out of the game, or as the author writes in his closing, ``like Achilles, he had no defense against his own mortal flaw: himself.'' Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1994

An unsentimentally revealing biography of the legendary black pitcher, and a history of the catch-as-catch-can Negro leagues where he first flourished. Drawing on a variety of sources, Ribowsky (He's A Rebel, Slick) does a fine job of separating fact from fancy in his tellingly detailed account of the life and times of Leroy Robert (Satchel) Paige (whose nickname derived from a youthful bent for snatching valises from unwary travelers). Born in Mobile, Alabama (circa 1906), Paige polished his diamond talents while incarcerated as an adolescent offender. Released from prison toward the end of 1923, he began an extended career that took him the length and breadth of the US as well as to Latin America's capital cities. In addition to playing the so-called blackball circuit (with Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, et al.), the gangly hurler more than held his own on barnstorming tours in head-to-head competition against such white stars as Dizzy Dean, Joe DiMaggio, and Bob Feller. Eventually signed by Bill Veeck's Cleveland Indians, Paige had five respectable seasons in the majors, pitched in a World Series game, and later became the first black inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame. While the public bought Paige's act as a lovable, colorful eccentric with a golden arm, Ribowsky makes clear that his persona masked a decidedly darker side that invariably wore out his welcome wherever he stayed. A compulsive womanizer and hard- drinking night owl (to the end of his days), Paige was a past master at looking out for number one, jumping contracts, and holding out for more money as a proven drawing card. Ribowski's first-rate take on the national pastime brings to vivid life what Paige and his contemporaries accomplished on their Jim Crow field of dreams. (16 pages of b&w photographs—not seen) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

Lengthy, solid, revealing biography of the owner of the L.A. Raiders—and a knowledgeable history of football's evolution from the Sixties onward, on and off the field. Portrayed by Ribowsky (He's a Rebel, 1988) as a pretend- athlete who never made the teams but tenaciously sought the company of real jocks, Davis, through his blue-collar Raiders (``oddities and irregulars, factory seconds and seeming chain gang escapees'') became an outlaw force in football. Ribowsky covers Davis's story thoroughly, especially the 1982 battle with Commissioner Pete Rozelle over Davis's right to move the team from Oakland to L.A. Leading up to that, Ribowsky details the peculiarly nasty Raider style that developed as Davis welded hard-case nonconformists into victorious Super Bowl teams, and also delivers a lively account of the bombs-away style that has unnerved Raider opponents. Davis emerges as chutzpah incarnate in his independent rise from a well-to-do Jewish background to successful coach to preeminence in the sport. Here, as the driven, indefatigable Raider-mensch scouts for his psychopath berserkers, he guts business opponents along the way without mercy, retaining a cadre of loyalists in a sea of enemies. But Davis's relationships with his players, blacks included, have been as close as can be found in the sport. Doused after a victory, ``[Davis] wore the wet clothes all the way home,'' giggles one player. The enemies list is long, though, once headed by former Raiders-owner Wayne Valley, who gave Davis his biggest breaks: At Valley's funeral, ``The police were watching for him,'' says wife Gladys Valley. ``They had orders to throw him out.'' ``You don't want Al Davis mad at you,'' says Gene Upshaw, and Ribowsky's sometimes clunky sentences do not obscure his forceful underscoring of that message. (Two eight-page photo inserts—not seen.) Read full book review >