Books by Michael MacCambridge

ESPN SPORTSCENTURY by Michael MacCambridge
Released: Sept. 22, 1999

An illustrated showcase of the century's foremost athletes, achievements, and issues in American sports. With the tasks and skills of a museum curator, MacCambridge (The Franchise: A History of Sports Illustrated Magazine, 1997) has chosen those words and scenes that best capture the drama, glory, and cultural impact of 100 years— worth of major pro team sports (plus boxing, college football, and some golf, tennis, track and field, and auto racing). Large photos frame Ebbets Field in the World Series, Lew Alcindor reaching for a tip-off, the winning play in college football's "Game of the Century," and a tripped, airborne Bobby Orr celebrating his Stanley Cup—winning goal. Each of the ten decades features every sport's champion, stars, stats, and highlights such as media coverage, rule changes, franchise, and stadium moves, and even uniform innovations. Sure, somebody will argue why Aaron, Starr, Gretsky, Petty, Sampras, or Woods only got as much coverage as Cosell—but historical effect rules. That's why Chris Berman writes that Jackie Robinson "was a decade ahead of Rosa Parks." If Marino only gets half a page, there are details like his "Lenox Hill derotation brace—designed for Namath." The most significant voices and icons in sports get feature articles. The lineup of writers and decade-dominating superstars: Gerald Early on Jack Johnson; Nicholas Lemann on Jim Thorpe; Robert Creamer on Babe Ruth; Wilfrid Sheed on Joe Louis and Babe Didrikson; Roy Blount Jr. on Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams; Dick Schaap on Johnny Unitas; Tony Kornheiser on Bill Russell; Joyce Carol Oates on Muhammad Ali; Thomas Boswell on Pete Rose; and Nelson George on Michael Jordan. Numbers are important, so we get Wilt Chamberlain's 20,000 sexual conquests, the 50 seconds left in the Heidi game, and a final page of 1—100 in sports associations. With hundreds of color photos enlivening the writing and graphics, this is the sports fan's coffee table gift of the century. (TV and radio satellite tour) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

Former Daily Variety reporter and newspaper columnist MacCambridge makes an entertaining debut with the story of one of America's most successful magazines. When discussions leading to its creation began in 1952, Sports Illustrated was an unlikely expression of Henry Luce's desire to add a new magazine to the Time-Life stable—unlikely because none of the Luce staff were sports fans. Indeed, in 1954 when the first issue hit the stands, most sports fans were more blue-collar than blue-blood; the big boom in the spectator sports business was about to happen, fueled by Eisenhower-era prosperity, the suburbs, and television. Sports Illustrated, after a very rocky beginning, would be a major factor in that explosion. What set the SI ship aright was the arrival of Andre Laguerre as the magazine's managing editor. Laguerre was an improbable leader for this publication, a former confidant of Charles de Gaulle, witty and urbane, schooled in the complexities of European politics. But the former journalistic boy wonder was also an astute judge of writing talent and a flinty but sympathetic leader whose staff quickly became unswervingly loyal. He assembled a team of superb sportswriters, heavily inflected by a group of Texans that included the brilliant Dan Jenkins. The result was a risk-taking, visually breathtaking magazine, featuring a consistently high quality of writing. SI helped make it respectable to follow spectator sports and changed the way that they were covered. But no Camelot lasts for ever. As MacCambridge astutely observes, the magazine was the victim of a gradual shift not unlike the one occurring in the sports it covered, with money and marketing becoming the forces that drove the vehicle; editors became more important than writers, pictures than prose, and tie-ins than quality. MacCambridge tells this story sympathetically and wittily. At its best, this is an entertaining, even poignant, portrait of the rise and not-quite-fall (but very real slippage) of an institution in American publishing. Read full book review >