Football Books: A Best Sports Writing Addendum

October 13, 2008 | 6 books mentioned 5

We have in the past noted the paucity of books about football among sports writing’s most cherished tomes (though there have been a few). Even in the list of “The Best Sports Journalism Ever” that I posted recently, there was only a single football piece represented (the Plimpton), and it is only obliquely about football. So, when I saw The Week (one of my favorite magazines) had highlighted not one but four football books in its most recent issue, I thought it worth noting. They are: Boys Will Be Boys by Jeff Pearlman about the hard partying Cowboys during the team’s dynasty of the 1990s; Giants Among Men by Jack Cavanaugh harks back to the New York Giants of the ’50s and ’60s and looks at football as it was in a much different era; War as They Knew It by Michael Rosenberg covers the Michigan versus Ohio State football rivalry during the tumultuous 2970s on college campuses; and Playing the Enemy by John Carlin is not quite about football but brings to light how a single rugby game in South Africa helped the country begin healing as apartheid ended.

Meanwhile, in the comments of the original sports writing post, bdr mentions a pair of books that give the literary treatment to that other, other football: soccer.

“(Excellent) novelist Tim Parks wrote a book about following Serie A squad Hellas Verona around Italy for a season (as they tried to avoid relegation – unsuccessfully) with its hardest-core fans called A Season with Verona, that’s terrific.

Philip Ball, who covers soccer for The Guardian, wrote a book about Spain, Spanish history, and how it all plays out in Spanish football called Morbo that’s even better.”

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.


  1. I quite liked Peter Gent's North Dallas Forty. His second football novel, The Franchise, was too over-the-top, but had many pleasurable moments.

  2. One of my favorite books, "A Fan's Notes," while not exclusively about football writes about it in rapturous detail, with a focus on Frank Gifford's career. Great writing.

  3. I'm trying to think how you haven't mentioned The Damned Utd by David Peace. A monumental book.

    Thanks for the great site.



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