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At the Altar of Speed: The Fast Life and Tragic Death of Dale Earnhardt

by Leigh Montville

He was The Intimidator. A nightmare in the rear-view mirror. A unique winner in the boardroom. A seven-time Winston Cup champion. A driver whose personal success story and dedication inspired the adoration of millions of fans. Then on February 18, 2001, just seconds from the Daytona 500 finish line, the world of stock-car racing suffered a devastating loss as Dale Earnhardt fatally careened into a track wall. The tragic shock waves, and an unprecedented outpouring of respect and love, have not stopped since. At the Altar of Speedtakes readers behind the scenes of Earnhardt's celebrated life, tracing his rags-to-riches journey to the top of America's fastest-growing sport. Beginning with Earnhardt's early days growing up in small-town North Carolina, veteran sports writer Leigh Montville examines how a ninth-grade dropout started on the dusty dirt tracks of the South, went through two marriages and a string of no-future jobs before turning twenty-five, then took about a million left turns to glory. Through the pitfalls and triumphs, Earnhardt would ultimately become a celebrated champion, whose lifetime earnings would top forty-one million dollars. The son of a legendary racer, the father of a NASCAR star, he lived a total auto-racing life filled with triumph and sadness, great joy and great pain. Transporting readers to the colorful, noisy world of stock-car racing, where powerful engines allow drivers to reach speeds of 200 m. p. h. ,At the Altar of Speedvividly captures the man who drove the black No. 3 car, a man whose determination and inner strength left behind a legacy of greatness that has redefined his sport. Illustrated with a section of full-color photographs,At the Altar of Speedis a tribute to both the man and his unbeatable spirit.

Becoming Manny

by Jean Rhodes Shawn Boburg Leigh Montville

Authorized by the future Hall of Famer himself, and written by a clinical psychologist and an award-winning investigative journalist, Becoming Manny is the incredible story behind one of the greatest baseball sluggers of all time. Manny Ramirez ranks seventeenth in career home runs and eighth in career slugging percentage -- the only players above him on both lists are Barry Bonds, Jimmie Foxx, and Babe Ruth. Becoming Manny brings an unusually thoughtful analysis to the territory of sports biography, examining Manny's life through the lens of larger issues such as mentoring and immigration, while also telling the story of a great career. Manny has perplexed the baseball world for years now with his amazing hitting and his unique approach to life and to the game. Incredibly focused at the plate yet carefree everywhere else, Manny has become a constant topic of discussion on national sports radio and television, on sports websites, and in print. With unprecedented access, Jean Rhodes and Shawn Boburg have uncovered fascinating stories and family photos spanning Manny's early years to the present. This is an authorized inside look at the roots, development, and career of an individual and player on his way from the Dominican Republic and Wash-ington Heights to the Hall of Fame.

The Best American Sports Writing 2009

by Leigh Montville

"The Best American" series is the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume's series editor selects notable works from hundreds of periodicals. A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publish. This unique system has made the Best American series the most respected -- and most popular -- of its kind.

The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth

by Leigh Montville

He was the Sultan of Swat. The Caliph of Clout. The Wizard of Whack. The Bambino. And simply, to his teammates, the Big Bam. From the award-winning author of the New York Times bestseller Ted Williams comes the thoroughly original, definitively ambitious, and exhilaratingly colorful biography of the largest legend ever to loom in baseball--and in the history of organized sports. "[Montville is] one of America's best sportswriters." --Chicago Tribune. Babe Ruth was more than baseball's original superstar. For eighty-five years, he has remained the sport's reigning titan. He has been named Athlete of the Century . . . more than once. But who was this large, loud, enigmatic man? Why is so little known about his childhood, his private life, and his inner thoughts? In The Big Bam, Leigh Montville, whose recent New York Times bestselling biography of Ted Williams garnered glowing reviews and offered an exceptionally intimate look at Williams's life, brings his trademark touch to this groundbreaking, revelatory portrait of the Babe. Based on newly discovered documents and interviews--including pages from Ruth's personal scrapbooks --The Big Bamtraces Ruth's life from his bleak childhood in Baltimore to his brash entrance into professional baseball, from Boston to New York and into the record books as the world's most explosive slugger and cultural luminary. Montville explores every aspect of the man, paying particular attention to the myths that have always surrounded him. Did he really hit the "called shot" homer in the 1932 World Series? Were his home runs really "the farthest balls ever hit" in countless ballparks around the country? Was he really part black--making him the first African American professional baseball superstar? And was Ruth the high-octane, womanizing, heavy-drinking "fatso" of legend . . . or just a boyish, rudderless quasi-orphan who did, in fact, take his training and personal conditioning quite seriously? At a time when modern baseball is grappling with hyper-inflated salaries, free agency, and assorted controversies, The Big Bam brings back the pure glory days of the game. Leigh Montville operates at the peak of his abilities, exploring Babe Ruth in a way that intimately, and poignantly, illuminates a most remarkable figure.

Dare to Dream: Connecticut Basketball's Remarkable March to the National Championship

by Jim Calhoun Leigh Montville

The charismatic basketball coach at the University of Connecticut reveals the victorious secrets behind his team's breathtaking journey to the 1999 NCAA Division I National Championship--and along the way shares his philosophy for winning. It was one of those games that basketball fans will talk about for years. Here was the seemingly unbeatable Duke Blue Devils pitted against the first-time finalist Connecticut Huskies, and at stake was the ultimate crown: the National Championship. On that unforgettable night in St. Petersburg, Jim Calhoun and his amazing team wrote a new chapter in the storied history of the UConn Huskies program, putting the perfect exclamation point on a season to remember. But behind the high drama that fateful night in Florida lay an even more fascinating tale of one man's rise to college basketball preeminence. InDare to Dream, the Huskies iron-willed coach, Jim Calhoun, for the first time shares his own story about his inspirational family and the tragedies they faced; about his early successful years at Northeastern, where he began to compile the first half of a unique double (he's the only coach to have won at least 250 games at two different Division I schools); and about his assumption of ultimate responsibility at the sleeping giant in Storrs, Connecticut. Along the way, Jim Calhoun paints fascinating portraits of the players who have done battle for him, and of the unsung heroes behind the scenes whose hard work and dedication to Connecticut basketball have kept the dream alive. In just thirteen years, Jim Calhoun has turned the Huskies into one of the leading basketball programs in the country, and in this moving, funny, and inspiring book, he takes us behind the scenes to show us just how he did it. From the Hardcover edition.

Evel: The High-flying Life of Evel Knievel - American Showman, Daredevil, and Legend

by Leigh Montville

From New York Times bestselling author Leigh Montville, this riveting and definitive new biography pulls back the red, white, and blue cape on a cultural icon--and reveals the unknown, complex, and controversial man known to millions around the world as Evel Knievel. Evel Knievel was a high-flying daredevil, the father of extreme sports, the personification of excitement and dan­ger and showmanship . . . and in the 1970s Knievel repre­sented a unique slice of American culture and patriotism. His jump over the fountains at Caesar's Palace led to a crash unlike anything ever seen on television, and his attempt to rocket over Snake River Canyon in Idaho was something only P. T. Barnum could have orchestrated. The dazzling motorcycles and red-white-and-blue outfits became an integral part of an American decade. Knievel looked like Elvis . . . but on any given Saturday afternoon millions tuned in to the small screen to see this real-life action hero tempt death. But behind the flash and the frenzy, who was the man? Bestselling author Leigh Montville masterfully explores the life of the complicated man from the small town of Butte, Montana. He delves into Knievel's amazing place in pop culture, as well as his notorious dark side--and his complex and often contradictory relationships with his image, the media, his own family, and his many demons. Evel Knievel's story is an all-American saga, and one that is largely untold. Leigh Montville once again delivers a definitive biography of a one-of-a-kind sports legend.From the Hardcover edition.

The Mysterious Montague: A True Tale of Hollywood, Golf, and Armed Robbery

by Leigh Montville

From the glamour of 1930s Hollywood and John Montague's extraordinary skill on the golf course to the shady world of Adirondack rumrunners and bootleggers, a "New York Times"-bestselling author captures a man and an era with extraordinary color and energy.

Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero

by Leigh Montville

He was The Kid. The Splendid Splinter. Teddy Ballgame. One of the greatest figures of his generation, and arguably the greatest baseball hitter of all time. But what made Ted Williams a legend - and a lightning rod for controversy in life and in death? What motivated him to interrupt his Hall of Fame career twice to serve his country as a fighter pilot; to embrace his fans while tangling with the media; to retreat from the limelight whenever possible into his solitary love of fishing; and to become the most famous man ever to have his body cryogenically frozen after his death? New York Times bestselling author Leigh Montville, who wrote the celebrated Sports Illustrated obituary of Ted Williams, now delivers an intimate, riveting account of this extraordinary life. Still a gangly teenager when he stepped into a Boston Red Sox uniform in 1939, Williams's boisterous personality and penchant for towering home runs earned him adoring admirers--the fans--and venomous critics--the sportswriters. In 1941, the entire country followed Williams's stunning . 406 season, a record that has not been touched in over six decades. At the pinnacle of his prime, Williams left Boston to train and serve as a fighter pilot in World War II, missing three full years of baseball. He was back in 1946, dominating the sport alongside teammates Dominic DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Bobby Doerr. But Williams left baseball again in 1952 to fight in Korea, where he flew thirty-nine combat missions--crash-landing his flaming, smoke-filled plane, in one famous episode. Ted Willams's personal life was equally colorful. His attraction to women (and their attraction to him) was a constant. He was married and divorced three times and he fathered two daughters and a son. He was one of corporate America's first modern spokesmen, and he remained, nearly into his eighties, a fiercely devoted fisherman. With his son, John Henry Williams, he devoted his final years to the sports memorabilia business, even as illness overtook him. And in death, controversy and public outcry followed Williams and the disagreements between his children over the decision to have his body preserved for future resuscitation in a cryonics facility--a fate, many argue, Williams never wanted. With unmatched verve and passion, and drawing upon hundreds of interviews, acclaimed best-selling author Leigh Montville brings to life Ted Williams's superb triumphs, lonely tragedies, and intensely colorful personality, in a biography that is fitting of an American hero and legend.

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