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The Cost of These Dreams: Sports Stories and Other Serious Business

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The instant New York Times bestseller! From one of America's most beloved sportswriters and the bestselling author of Pappyland, a collection of true stories about the dream of greatness and its cost in the world of sports. Wright Thompson's stories are so full of rich characters, bad actors, heroes, drama, suffering, courage, conflict, and vivid detail that I sometimes thi The instant New York Times bestseller! From one of America's most beloved sportswriters and the bestselling author of Pappyland, a collection of true stories about the dream of greatness and its cost in the world of sports. Wright Thompson's stories are so full of rich characters, bad actors, heroes, drama, suffering, courage, conflict, and vivid detail that I sometimes thinks he's working my side of the street - the world of fiction. - John Grisham There is only one Wright Thompson. He is, as they say, famous if you know who he is: his work includes the most read articles in the history of ESPN (and it's not even close) and has been anthologized in the Best American Sports Writing series ten times, and he counts John Grisham and Richard Ford among his ardent admirers (see back of book). But to say his pieces are about sports, while true as far as it goes, is like saying Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove is a book about a cattle drive. Wright Thompson figures people out. He jimmies the lock to the furnaces inside the people he profiles and does an analysis of the fuel that fires their ambition. Whether it be Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods or Pat Riley or Urban Meyer, he strips the away the self-serving myths and fantasies to reveal his characters in full. There are fascinating common denominators: it may not be the case that every single great performer or coach had a complex relationship with his father, but it can sure seem that way. And there is much marvelous local knowledge: about specific sports, and times and places, and people. Ludicrously entertaining and often powerfully moving, The Cost of These Dreams is an ode to the reporter's art, and a celebration of true greatness and the high price that it exacts.


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The instant New York Times bestseller! From one of America's most beloved sportswriters and the bestselling author of Pappyland, a collection of true stories about the dream of greatness and its cost in the world of sports. Wright Thompson's stories are so full of rich characters, bad actors, heroes, drama, suffering, courage, conflict, and vivid detail that I sometimes thi The instant New York Times bestseller! From one of America's most beloved sportswriters and the bestselling author of Pappyland, a collection of true stories about the dream of greatness and its cost in the world of sports. Wright Thompson's stories are so full of rich characters, bad actors, heroes, drama, suffering, courage, conflict, and vivid detail that I sometimes thinks he's working my side of the street - the world of fiction. - John Grisham There is only one Wright Thompson. He is, as they say, famous if you know who he is: his work includes the most read articles in the history of ESPN (and it's not even close) and has been anthologized in the Best American Sports Writing series ten times, and he counts John Grisham and Richard Ford among his ardent admirers (see back of book). But to say his pieces are about sports, while true as far as it goes, is like saying Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove is a book about a cattle drive. Wright Thompson figures people out. He jimmies the lock to the furnaces inside the people he profiles and does an analysis of the fuel that fires their ambition. Whether it be Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods or Pat Riley or Urban Meyer, he strips the away the self-serving myths and fantasies to reveal his characters in full. There are fascinating common denominators: it may not be the case that every single great performer or coach had a complex relationship with his father, but it can sure seem that way. And there is much marvelous local knowledge: about specific sports, and times and places, and people. Ludicrously entertaining and often powerfully moving, The Cost of These Dreams is an ode to the reporter's art, and a celebration of true greatness and the high price that it exacts.

30 review for The Cost of These Dreams: Sports Stories and Other Serious Business

  1. 5 out of 5

    Peter Boyle

    I first came across Wright Thompson's work in a Tiger Woods article he wrote for ESPN a few years back. It focussed mostly on Tiger's downfall and tied it into the death of his father - how he struggled to cope without his rock, how he emulated his old man in his womanising and even his military fascination. The piece struck me for its sensitivity and the way it revealed the man behind the mask: a socially awkward introvert who became the world's most recognisable sports star. The rest of the pie I first came across Wright Thompson's work in a Tiger Woods article he wrote for ESPN a few years back. It focussed mostly on Tiger's downfall and tied it into the death of his father - how he struggled to cope without his rock, how he emulated his old man in his womanising and even his military fascination. The piece struck me for its sensitivity and the way it revealed the man behind the mask: a socially awkward introvert who became the world's most recognisable sports star. The rest of the pieces in this collection all share that sympathetic quality. Thompson comes across as a compassionate journalist, but also a tenacious individual who is driven to understand the motivations of his subjects. I loved the Michael Jordan article, a man coming to terms with middle age but still as ridiculously competitive as ever. The Ted Williams story helped me understand a complex character - a baseball legend who had a tough upbringing and ended up inflicting plenty of misery on his own family. But the standout piece is based on New Orleans - a city trying to put itself back together after untold devastation. Thompson speaks to members of the Saints team who gave their fans something to cheer about when they were at their lowest ebb. He also talks with Chris Rose, a local reporter noted for his eloquence during the Katrina aftermath, who has fallen on hard times of late. It's an emotional read - heartbreaking in more than a few places yet also life-affirming in many ways. A couple of the pieces, such as the ones on college football, didn't resonate with me as much as others. But this is down to my own lack of knowledge in that area. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this collection, for its human insight, its search for what drives these people and the cost associated with achieving greatness. I can certainly see why Wright Thompson has earned a reputation as one of the finest sports journalists around.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Bodenberg

    To say that Wright Thompson is a sportswriter would be equivalent to saying that Macbeth is a travelogue of Scotland. Sports are merely a gateway to the human condition, and no one, repeat, no one, can open and mine it like Thompson. Easily the best sports book I've read in several decades. Any further verbiage on my part would not do him or you, the reader, justice. To say that Wright Thompson is a sportswriter would be equivalent to saying that Macbeth is a travelogue of Scotland. Sports are merely a gateway to the human condition, and no one, repeat, no one, can open and mine it like Thompson. Easily the best sports book I've read in several decades. Any further verbiage on my part would not do him or you, the reader, justice.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    As much as I love sports, I don't typically read sports writing unless it's about one of my favorite teams, and even then there's a lot that goes unread. That's what makes Wright Thompson so perfect for me -- while all of these stories had sports central to the theme, it goes so far beyond a book of just "sports stories." Whether it's the inner demons faced by (and obsessive nature 0f) such greats as Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Dan Gable, and Pat Riley, how teams and their communities interplay As much as I love sports, I don't typically read sports writing unless it's about one of my favorite teams, and even then there's a lot that goes unread. That's what makes Wright Thompson so perfect for me -- while all of these stories had sports central to the theme, it goes so far beyond a book of just "sports stories." Whether it's the inner demons faced by (and obsessive nature 0f) such greats as Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Dan Gable, and Pat Riley, how teams and their communities interplay with one another, like the Saints and New Orleans after Katrina or Ole Miss Football during the integration riots, or the unseen family relationships behind it all (the four aforementioned athletes, as well as baseball's Ted Williams and Thompson's own father -- or really all of these stories, as Thompson himself puts it in the intro), these stories all go well beyond sports. Nothing exemplifies that more than Beyond the Breach , a sprawling look at New Orleans on the cusp of the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Another review called it "all over the place", which is fair, but to me it was a targeted jumping around and really was masterful. Highly recommended, particularly if you are a sports fan and interested in stories that play off of sports but are not wholly about them. However, like any good writing, this had me enjoying both the topics I already enjoy as well as things I would never have thought of as particularly interesting (though it's obvious that even the most straightforward-looking things have a story to tell). Favorite Essays: Ghosts of Mississippi, Shadow Boxing, Beyond the Breach, The Secret History of Tiger Woods. Least Favorite Essays (mostly a subject matter/personal preference thing): Urban Meyer Will Be Home For Dinner, Pat Riley's Final Test, In Chicago, the Final Wait for a Cubs Win Mixes Joy and Sorrow. Rough tiers: 5* Favorites (see above) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 4.5* The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived On, The Last Days of Tony Harris ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 4* Michael Jordan Has Not Left the Building, Holy Ground, Here and Gone ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3.5* The Last Ride of Bear and Billy, The Losses of Dan Gable ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2.5-3* Least favorites (see above) Overall: strong 4, maybe a 4.5.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Kane

    Wright Thompson is a great sportswriter, but the themes covered in these pieces go beyond sports. He asks what is the price of pursuing greatness for the people who have achieved it, been close to it, or fell short. Great stories about humanity, mortality, and the way we choose to live our lives.

  5. 5 out of 5

    M

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Wow. Where do I even begin? Wright Thompson is my favorite sports writer. My inspiration. I have long tried to be like Wright and this collection comforted me, reading all of his best stories with fresh eyes. I so appreciated his intro, taking us through the journey of what his stories meant to him, what it was like reporting them, and ultimately what binds them together. Wright has something I relate to: an ongoing search, chase and absolute HUNGER and obsession to find the story. The story ben Wow. Where do I even begin? Wright Thompson is my favorite sports writer. My inspiration. I have long tried to be like Wright and this collection comforted me, reading all of his best stories with fresh eyes. I so appreciated his intro, taking us through the journey of what his stories meant to him, what it was like reporting them, and ultimately what binds them together. Wright has something I relate to: an ongoing search, chase and absolute HUNGER and obsession to find the story. The story beneath the story. The human cost underneath all of it. His stories are never JUST about sports. They are about failure and fathers and disappointment and home and pain and joy and celebration and obstacles. There must be some chase. Some tension. Man searching for meaning. I feel lucky to have read Wright all these years. Some of my fav quotes: “A universal truth: the tools required to gain greatness often prevent someone from enjoying it” (xiii). “We see all these people, and maybe we steal a glimpse of ourselves” (xiv). “Now I know that success means reaching your goals and enjoying them and that one without the other is empty and meaningless. I went to the funeral of legendary sports writer William Nack and as his kids talked about how much they loved vacations with him, and how much he loved his family and enjoying cooking big meals for all of them, I realized that his work was a means to an end and not the supreme and total end” (xv). “It seems to me that the point of studying other people, whether through a sports story or a novel or a song or a movie, is to organize our thoughts and construct a framework that might better help understand ourselves” (xvi). Like Wright, when he discusses here traveling the country, the world, pursuing his story, his truths, learning about athletes but also about himself, I felt that deeply. That is my journey. Now the stories: his story on Michael Jordan is my favorite sports story of all time. Just absolutely stunning work. When I read Wright I am amazed at the confidence he writes with, the way he commands a narrative, the way he uses little dialogue and can describe something as minimal as a bathtub and make you feel like you are right there, in the tub, soaking up the suds. His stories bring the emotion and grit in sports and reveal who athletes really are. It’s about the HUMAN. Shadow Boxing is my second favorite, and an inspiration for a current story I’m writing. He is so clever in choosing subjects and attacking an angle that nobody else is. It is impossible for me to quote all of my favorite quotes from his stories. There are too many lines that are just beautiful, poignant, emotionally present and written with incredible care. He always says the architecture, the structure, is what it’s always about.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jasan Selaty

    This was my first Wright Thompson book, and I doubt it will be my last. I see what all the fuss is about, phenomenal story teller. And I did not cry at the end, you did. Didn’t see that coming.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Craig Sisterson

    I've long admired Wright Thompson's long-form sports stories, and so I had high expectations when buying this collection. It not only meets but arguably surpasses those expectations. This is exceptional reportage and storytelling, taking us into the minds, lives, and hearts of globally famous and lesser-known sports figures, and the impact the game had on them as much as they had on it. A book about life as much as sport. Terrific. I've long admired Wright Thompson's long-form sports stories, and so I had high expectations when buying this collection. It not only meets but arguably surpasses those expectations. This is exceptional reportage and storytelling, taking us into the minds, lives, and hearts of globally famous and lesser-known sports figures, and the impact the game had on them as much as they had on it. A book about life as much as sport. Terrific.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Scott Wolfe Jr

    So happy to have found this book - and it surprised me (pleasantly) to a significant degree. This is some of the best writing I've read in a while. Though "sports" is a part of these stories, it really just sits as a setting for something much more. Highly recommend this. I'll read everything Thompson gets in ink from here on out. So happy to have found this book - and it surprised me (pleasantly) to a significant degree. This is some of the best writing I've read in a while. Though "sports" is a part of these stories, it really just sits as a setting for something much more. Highly recommend this. I'll read everything Thompson gets in ink from here on out.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chip Redihan

    Rich and powerful stories. Wright Thompson is a master of telling incredible stories in vivid detail.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Henry

    Wright Thompson’s ability to personify people, an oxymoron I know, is unmatched. He characterizes heroes and celebrities in a manner that’s honest and biting; empathetic and critical.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Boy Blue

    The Cost Of These Dreams Sport can lift people up, it can alter the soul but it can also ruin lives. As a society we only ever hear the success stories, history is written by the victors and in sport every match or game we watch becomes the story of the winner. The loser is always forgotten, the minute they lose they become an extra in the winner's story.  In The Cost Of These Dreams Thompson is not wrestling just with the dreams of sporting greats but also the mundane, everyday American Dreams th The Cost Of These Dreams Sport can lift people up, it can alter the soul but it can also ruin lives. As a society we only ever hear the success stories, history is written by the victors and in sport every match or game we watch becomes the story of the winner. The loser is always forgotten, the minute they lose they become an extra in the winner's story.  In The Cost Of These Dreams Thompson is not wrestling just with the dreams of sporting greats but also the mundane, everyday American Dreams that built and maintain the nation from sea to shining sea. The dilapidated buildings, crumbling societies, and fading memories show the tragedy of both the individuals in question and the society around them.  Thompson accurately finds the spot where the court becomes the street, the ring becomes the road, the field the fall. Where champions step out of the spotlight and everything they've worked for, everything they are, not only won't serve them in normal life but can actually become deeply harmful to them. Wright Thompson is a great American Sports Writer. The keyword in that sentence American. While the heart of these stories examine the human soul and thus they should be relatable to all, the soul is certainly seen through a set of red, white and blue lenses. It's no wonder that his weakest story is the one about Lionel Messi, Thompson seems incapable of finding the essence of Messi, he is confused as to why Messi would want to stay so strongly attached to his home in Rosario even though the town doesn't love him and he moved away at the age of 13. Oddly, Thompson's implicit understanding of American patriotism both local and national doesn't seem to function when applied outside America. Many of the stories will also be foreign to non-American readers, whether it's Dan Gable or Ted Williams, these characters don't tap an international memory in the way Woods, Jordan and Messi do. Yet in many cases Thompson is better at sketching the personalities of these less internationally famous characters. The best story in here is also the longest and the least sport oriented that is the New Orleans recovery story Beyond The Breach. Thompson breaks down the rich, the poor and everyone in between. His gaze falls on all of New Orleans and in doing this he tells the story of the city in a brilliant way. Ghosts of Mississippi and Shadow Boxing are also excellent examinations of close characters and whole societies, of the importance of sport in our lives and how fleeting moments of success can define entire lifetimes, entire generations. I think to give this 5 stars you need to be American or have lived in America for a long time. It just won't hit the right notes otherwise. But if you are into sport, you should read these stories because they tell the other side, the painful side, the one we don't want to hear, the one we want to ignore. In today's superficial echo chambers these are the stories we need to be listening to.

  12. 5 out of 5

    DT

    I think Wright Thompson is one of the nine or ten best writers alive. This is a book compiling his work, which can be loosely defined as long form sports journalism. But I think one of the reasons great sportswriters are so indelible is that they’re not just writing about sports. So it is here. Fathers and sons is a recurring theme in Wright’s work, and it’s on full display here. A haunted and restless Michael Jordan at 50. A reeling Tiger Woods seeking . . . something following his father’s dea I think Wright Thompson is one of the nine or ten best writers alive. This is a book compiling his work, which can be loosely defined as long form sports journalism. But I think one of the reasons great sportswriters are so indelible is that they’re not just writing about sports. So it is here. Fathers and sons is a recurring theme in Wright’s work, and it’s on full display here. A haunted and restless Michael Jordan at 50. A reeling Tiger Woods seeking . . . something following his father’s death. An entire football team wrestling with the prospect of a national championship while the federal government desegregates the school in the midst of a riot. New Orleans after Katrina. Not a bad story in this bunch.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tejas Sathian

    I've been a fan of Thompson's ESPN writing for a long time - for his style, his self-consciousness about his identity as a sportswriter and the tradition that he is working to uphold, and for the deep human complexity he consistently unlocks in his subjects. I can say that just about every story in this collection taught me something new and often unexpected, whether it was about an athlete I'm familiar with or had never heard of. The intro and the final essay really made this collection for me I've been a fan of Thompson's ESPN writing for a long time - for his style, his self-consciousness about his identity as a sportswriter and the tradition that he is working to uphold, and for the deep human complexity he consistently unlocks in his subjects. I can say that just about every story in this collection taught me something new and often unexpected, whether it was about an athlete I'm familiar with or had never heard of. The intro and the final essay really made this collection for me by inserting Thompson's own voice and identity into his writing. The intro had a number of hooks that raised my intrigue level: his comparison of his life on the road to that of a boxer being watered in the corner between rounds (the cover image); his contention that longform sportswriting is a uniquely American art form; his comparison of the force of a well-written sports story to a gut punching blues guitar riff. The finale about fathers and sons at Augusta was heartstring-pulling and evocative in many ways. Similarly, my favorite essay in the collection is likely 'Ghosts of Mississippi' - for the way it traces a tense period in national history through the lens of a football season, consistently maintains suspenseful tension, and integrates personal family history and the sensation of discomfort at what one's ancestors may have participated in. Beyond Thompson's explorations of his own past and identity, the common thread connecting these stories is the pursuit of greatness and the human costs it extracts. We meet Michael Jordan, who optimized the first half of his life to be a ruthless competitor then found these settings were inappropriate for the second half of his life; Tiger Woods, who struggled with living up to / surpassing his father (the segments about the SEAL training fascination were excellent) then replicated his flaws (infidelity) at larger scale; Pat Riley, who continued to defer his post-basketball life in Malibu well past sensible stopping points; Dan Gable, who used pain as fuel then struggled to channel it effectively once wrestling was no longer physically accessible to him; Messi, whose global greatness came at the cost of being loved or even known in his hometown. And of course the chapter on the Saints and Katrina was powerful and brilliantly explored, in particular its contrast between the Benson family's nasty battling and the vulnerable lives of the city's poor just blocks away. My only caveat is that these are essays rather than a continuous book, and they are best read with some separation - otherwise the heavy subject matter and Thompson's style can start to wear a little bit. But this is clearly a powerful writer showcasing his best work in a format united by a common thematic link, and it captures a lot about sports and its place in our current society. I hope Thompson's career and writing find their place in the sportswriting pantheon years from now.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    8/10 “He went from being alone to being surrounded by people, which is sort of the same thing.” This book is a collection of short stories about different athletes or sporting events, and the cost that brought their greatness. I loved it. Thompson is only pretending to write about the actual sports, he's far more concerned with humanity, greatness and disappointment. Michael Jordan chapter was great—but the personality that drove him to greatness didn't allow him to enjoy it.“No one who is great a 8/10 “He went from being alone to being surrounded by people, which is sort of the same thing.” This book is a collection of short stories about different athletes or sporting events, and the cost that brought their greatness. I loved it. Thompson is only pretending to write about the actual sports, he's far more concerned with humanity, greatness and disappointment. Michael Jordan chapter was great—but the personality that drove him to greatness didn't allow him to enjoy it.“No one who is great at something is normal.” I had never seen someone paint such a human picture of Michael, not even The Last Dance. I empathize more with his struggle to accept the dwindling of his greatness. The Urban Meyer was interesting, especially in light of recent events. Thompson seems to imply (and I probably agree with him), that Meyer sacrificed his greatest at coaching for a better work/life balance. Then he grinded on some co-ed in a bar and kicked his kicker and even his bad coaching went away. That’s the problem with attempting change, you want the old results without the old costs. Tiger Woods was intensely into Navy SEALs training, combat and weapons training, who knew? Tiger Woods went to lunch with SEALs, the waitress came back with the check, and there was silence for a few seconds, before one of the Seals finally said, “Separate checks please.” They were all dumbfounded that after they took him training for several hours, he couldn’t pay for lunch. Tiger buried his father's body in an unmarked grave, and has never been seen to visit. There were other chapters (the one about Messi was excellent), but these are the ones that have stood out the most to me. “The hole in your chest from losing your dad never gets filled, you just need to learn to become one yourself.”

  15. 4 out of 5

    Vince

    Wright Thompson is the best sportswriter in the world because he doesn’t write about sports. His articles are about people who are famous because of sports, but that’s never the focus. I never understood Michael Jordan as well as I did after finishing Wright’s story about a man who just turned 50, grappling with the increasing realization that he’s not His Airness anymore because his body won’t let him be. I read and felt the panic that must have been going on in Tony Harris’ mind when thinking Wright Thompson is the best sportswriter in the world because he doesn’t write about sports. His articles are about people who are famous because of sports, but that’s never the focus. I never understood Michael Jordan as well as I did after finishing Wright’s story about a man who just turned 50, grappling with the increasing realization that he’s not His Airness anymore because his body won’t let him be. I read and felt the panic that must have been going on in Tony Harris’ mind when thinking everyone in Brazil wanted him dead. I read about Urban Meyer, years after years after going through the exact same path at Ohio State that he took at Florida, understanding why he can’t stop the cycle from repeating itself. Wright’s works in this book are about people way more than they are about sports. I read his writing and feel like I know who exactly this person is and all the trials and inner battles that make them who they are. That’s far more interesting than records, championships and points.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Conor Sheehan

    This book stands on its own merits as a great short story collection but as a sports book as well, it's pure bliss. I found Wright Thompsom's writing style very captivating, he makes larger-than-life athletes so human and relatable and in general, is just a gifted storyteller. It feels like you're listening to an old friend the way his words come together. He covers the greats like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, but I was pleasantly surprised at my interest in other figures, such as Dan Gable, This book stands on its own merits as a great short story collection but as a sports book as well, it's pure bliss. I found Wright Thompsom's writing style very captivating, he makes larger-than-life athletes so human and relatable and in general, is just a gifted storyteller. It feels like you're listening to an old friend the way his words come together. He covers the greats like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, but I was pleasantly surprised at my interest in other figures, such as Dan Gable, ones I might have not come across in my own time. What I enjoy the most about this book is how the stars and the athletes are kind of a backdrop to a much deeper exploration of stories and themes: The cost of being great in pro-sports, reconciling with being great no longer and the pure magic-power sports have of bringing us together and tearing us apart. Still early but will probably be one of my favorite books this year.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lane

    I expected more from Thompson from reading his other books and the TV program True South. This book picks out several sports personalities that are driven to overcome a poor relationship with their fathers or the loss of their father that has driven them to the heights of sports success. The implied desire of all is that as they have aged they want to change (to do better in their lives) and they have failed. I do not see the desire in Thompson's subjects that they want to change. Prime examples I expected more from Thompson from reading his other books and the TV program True South. This book picks out several sports personalities that are driven to overcome a poor relationship with their fathers or the loss of their father that has driven them to the heights of sports success. The implied desire of all is that as they have aged they want to change (to do better in their lives) and they have failed. I do not see the desire in Thompson's subjects that they want to change. Prime examples are Meyers and Woods who have in the years since these articles were written have just reinforced their lives are about themselves and their desire to change is false impression. The stories are dark and I feel overwritten. I am not sure if the dreams of these individuals really have much to do with the negative aspects of their lives. The best article is about New Orleans and Katrina recovery.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Borree

    This is a collection of sports essays by one of my favorite writers. There are long form essays about Michael Jordan, Ted Williams, Dan Gable, Pat Riley, Tiger Woods, and a touching tribute to his father that wraps up the book. In Thompson's writing he does a wonderful job bringing the human elements of sport to life and giving the seemingly mundane / ESPN sports world a very deep, emotional inner view. The good thing about this book is that you can read essays that interest you / grab you atten This is a collection of sports essays by one of my favorite writers. There are long form essays about Michael Jordan, Ted Williams, Dan Gable, Pat Riley, Tiger Woods, and a touching tribute to his father that wraps up the book. In Thompson's writing he does a wonderful job bringing the human elements of sport to life and giving the seemingly mundane / ESPN sports world a very deep, emotional inner view. The good thing about this book is that you can read essays that interest you / grab you attention and you can skip the essays that don't interest you (like I did). I skipped 2-3 essays that really didn't seem to interest me that I may come back to at a later date. My favorite essay (by far) was about Dan Gable's life and times within the Iowa wrestling world. It was fascinating. While the final chapter about how he regretted never getting his father to Augusta haunts him to this day very much hit home. Not all the essays were page turners, but they were all very well written.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paul Thomas

    Wright Thompson has a big heart, a huge gilt complex and a fantastic gift for writing, especially about sports. I once read an article on ESPN and thought: “This guy isn’t a sports writer, he’s a novelist!” In this collection of short stories, he reveals the human struggle inside many great athletes. Stories about Michael Jordan, Pat Riley and Ted Williams are intimate portrayals of what drives them. And the last one, about fathers and sons, nearly brought me to tears, having recently lost my Dad Wright Thompson has a big heart, a huge gilt complex and a fantastic gift for writing, especially about sports. I once read an article on ESPN and thought: “This guy isn’t a sports writer, he’s a novelist!” In this collection of short stories, he reveals the human struggle inside many great athletes. Stories about Michael Jordan, Pat Riley and Ted Williams are intimate portrayals of what drives them. And the last one, about fathers and sons, nearly brought me to tears, having recently lost my Dad. The only reason that I didn’t give it 5 stars is that Thompson seems to need to inject his politics into places where politics NEVER belong, and that’s sports. His story about Ole Miss is stunningly arrogant, and among many other salvos, blames the highway system for racism in his home state of Mississippi. Perhaps he should look inward. Skip that one, and you have a collection of fantastic short stories giving an inside view into some of sports greatest stars.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bryce Pinder

    Pretty amazing how similar and frankly depressing the lives are of many great athletes and coaches and also amazing how Thompson is able to dig into such a variety of stories. The book shows that these greats are really just normal people with monumental successes that have come at real costs that each of them live with. This is sports journalism in a book and probably sports journalism at its best, but I had a hard time getting into it. Thompson does an amazing job of keying in on details and w Pretty amazing how similar and frankly depressing the lives are of many great athletes and coaches and also amazing how Thompson is able to dig into such a variety of stories. The book shows that these greats are really just normal people with monumental successes that have come at real costs that each of them live with. This is sports journalism in a book and probably sports journalism at its best, but I had a hard time getting into it. Thompson does an amazing job of keying in on details and weaving them into his story, and also finding compelling stories where most wouldn't think to find them. For me that also meant there wasn't enough content in the stories and I found myself dragging through much of the book. That said there are some common themes that start to surface in his stories and the book gets momentum as these themes start to build.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Karen & Gerard

    The Cost of These Dreams--Sports Stories and Other Serious Business by Wright Thompson is a collection of true stories about athletes and one story about fans of a team. I thought these stories were excellent because they were so interesting! They go beyond who won or lost and share about the personal lives of the athletes. I feel like I got to know the real person. Stories included their families and friends. There was a great mix of people and the stories were varied like the people who they w The Cost of These Dreams--Sports Stories and Other Serious Business by Wright Thompson is a collection of true stories about athletes and one story about fans of a team. I thought these stories were excellent because they were so interesting! They go beyond who won or lost and share about the personal lives of the athletes. I feel like I got to know the real person. Stories included their families and friends. There was a great mix of people and the stories were varied like the people who they were written about. I enjoyed it very much and even if you are not a die-hard fan, I think you would enjoy it too! It certainly gives insight into the true life of a professional athlete. (Gerard's review)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Woody

    This book and the author are both gems. It goes far beyond sports stars to the challenges they face off the field of play and after their playing days are done. It reveals the dynamics of ultra-competitive personalities and how that affects relationships (usually negatively). It also reveals the frustrations people like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods have when they are not at the top of their respective games anymore. Thompson is a perceptive, engaging writer who informs with his stories and pro This book and the author are both gems. It goes far beyond sports stars to the challenges they face off the field of play and after their playing days are done. It reveals the dynamics of ultra-competitive personalities and how that affects relationships (usually negatively). It also reveals the frustrations people like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods have when they are not at the top of their respective games anymore. Thompson is a perceptive, engaging writer who informs with his stories and provides historical context. His long essay on New Orleans offers a fascinating insiders perspective on that city as it tried to emerge from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. Thompson left me wanting to read more of his works.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Todd

    Wow. Just an incredible collection of sportswriting, although it's only sportswriting in the loosest sense that all of the stories have some connection to sports, but they're really more just human stories. Thompson's quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Some of these you may have read before, but the entire collection is so powerful. You really have to sit and let each one soak in before moving on. The Tiger and Jordan stories are definitely interesting looks at well-known greats, but for me th Wow. Just an incredible collection of sportswriting, although it's only sportswriting in the loosest sense that all of the stories have some connection to sports, but they're really more just human stories. Thompson's quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Some of these you may have read before, but the entire collection is so powerful. You really have to sit and let each one soak in before moving on. The Tiger and Jordan stories are definitely interesting looks at well-known greats, but for me the highlights here were the story about the 1962 Ole Miss football team amidst the racial tensions and riots on campus, and the story of New Orleans 10 years after Katrina. Highly recommend this one.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Zeke

    I'd give six stars to some of the essays in here if I could. Thompson writes the kind of pieces I do in my dreams. He is curious, thorough and empathetic while writing about some of the greatest figures in sports and interestingly a theme through much of his work is how athletes handle their lives once that Apex of greatness is gone. It's writing that just happens to use sports as a way to talk about the things that matter most to all of us. I've savored these and re-read a few before finishing I'd give six stars to some of the essays in here if I could. Thompson writes the kind of pieces I do in my dreams. He is curious, thorough and empathetic while writing about some of the greatest figures in sports and interestingly a theme through much of his work is how athletes handle their lives once that Apex of greatness is gone. It's writing that just happens to use sports as a way to talk about the things that matter most to all of us. I've savored these and re-read a few before finishing because I'm in turn trying to get into Wright's head a bit. A few months ago I won a drawing to share a meal with the man himself and some friends when the pandemic is over. Suffice it to say, I can't wait.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kale Harbaugh

    The Cost of These Dreams is the perfect name for this collection of stories. Most of them are about a specific sports figure, diving deep into what they had to sacrifice to get where they are. Thompson's writing was good enough to keep me interested even in the people I wasn't very familiar with. Some of my favorite essays included here are about communities, though. The 1962 integration riots at Ole Miss coinciding with their undefeated football season, a Super Bowl victory's importance to a po The Cost of These Dreams is the perfect name for this collection of stories. Most of them are about a specific sports figure, diving deep into what they had to sacrifice to get where they are. Thompson's writing was good enough to keep me interested even in the people I wasn't very familiar with. Some of my favorite essays included here are about communities, though. The 1962 integration riots at Ole Miss coinciding with their undefeated football season, a Super Bowl victory's importance to a post-Katrina New Orleans, and the bittersweet release for Cubs fans after they finally won a World Series are some of the stories included that I found most moving.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Don Gorman

    (2 1/2). I am generally not one for collections of short stories but the reviews on this book drew me in. Wright Thompson was not an ordinary sports writer, he knew how to take a different look at people and events. With the exception of the long form piece here on New Orleans, Katrina, the Super Bowl and the Saints, all of these works are just the right length to dig your teeth in to. Stories on superstars and others. The final piece, written by his son, is a solid tear jerker. Pick and choose (2 1/2). I am generally not one for collections of short stories but the reviews on this book drew me in. Wright Thompson was not an ordinary sports writer, he knew how to take a different look at people and events. With the exception of the long form piece here on New Orleans, Katrina, the Super Bowl and the Saints, all of these works are just the right length to dig your teeth in to. Stories on superstars and others. The final piece, written by his son, is a solid tear jerker. Pick and choose your way. Yes, this is mostly for sports nuts, but there is a lot more here than that. Pretty good stuff.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Denis Goulet

    This very entertaining and enlightening book is an easy read, or was for me until the last chapter. That one drained me as it concerned the time we think we have but really don’t. There is cost involved in every success, but the price athletes pay can be extraordinarily huge. Often, the biggest dose of reality comes after all of the accolades, fans and hangers on have disappeared. I highly recommend this book, not just for sports fans, but for everybody with laser focus chasing anything deemed w This very entertaining and enlightening book is an easy read, or was for me until the last chapter. That one drained me as it concerned the time we think we have but really don’t. There is cost involved in every success, but the price athletes pay can be extraordinarily huge. Often, the biggest dose of reality comes after all of the accolades, fans and hangers on have disappeared. I highly recommend this book, not just for sports fans, but for everybody with laser focus chasing anything deemed worthwhile. Oh, and for dads. Like I said, that last chapter killed me.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Franklin

    THE COST OF THESE DREAMS - WRIGHT THOMPSON 6/10 14 stories, mostly American sports icons, I read 2 of them and lost interest as I didn't know who they were, so this ended up being a DNF. Only 3 writeups by Wright, a sportswriter who works for ESPN, kept me glued up the book. Michael Jordan and his refusal to retire and accept his time is over. Lionel Messi and the pain of missing his childhood that haunts him until today, still a 13-year old at heart. Like Michael Jackson. Tiger Woods and the de THE COST OF THESE DREAMS - WRIGHT THOMPSON 6/10 14 stories, mostly American sports icons, I read 2 of them and lost interest as I didn't know who they were, so this ended up being a DNF. Only 3 writeups by Wright, a sportswriter who works for ESPN, kept me glued up the book. Michael Jordan and his refusal to retire and accept his time is over. Lionel Messi and the pain of missing his childhood that haunts him until today, still a 13-year old at heart. Like Michael Jackson. Tiger Woods and the death of his father that started his downfall and tumbled towards solitude.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This was different than what I expected. It was part history - part bios. The stories of the individual sport figures/teams were interesting; however, I would have liked to read more of individuals overcoming obstacles to be successful. These successful sthletes were so focused on their sport for so many years that there was not much else in their lives to fall back on. I do want to know why my taxi dollars went to provide Navy SEAL activities to Tiger Woods. You just have to be famous (or infamo This was different than what I expected. It was part history - part bios. The stories of the individual sport figures/teams were interesting; however, I would have liked to read more of individuals overcoming obstacles to be successful. These successful sthletes were so focused on their sport for so many years that there was not much else in their lives to fall back on. I do want to know why my taxi dollars went to provide Navy SEAL activities to Tiger Woods. You just have to be famous (or infamous) in the U.S. and you write your own ticket.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Keel

    I remembered Thompson from reading his piece on Michael Jordan in ESPN the Magazine years ago, included in this work. That piece stuck with me since then in its sobering look at the inner life of one of our Solomons, wrapped in mountains of achievement and glory. That’s a clear theme in these self-described “blues-riffs.” But the beauty of fatherhood, the humanity hidden behind cultivated personas, and the power of ordinary acts of love are what makes this collection great. That, and Wright Thom I remembered Thompson from reading his piece on Michael Jordan in ESPN the Magazine years ago, included in this work. That piece stuck with me since then in its sobering look at the inner life of one of our Solomons, wrapped in mountains of achievement and glory. That’s a clear theme in these self-described “blues-riffs.” But the beauty of fatherhood, the humanity hidden behind cultivated personas, and the power of ordinary acts of love are what makes this collection great. That, and Wright Thompson just has that Mississippian superpower of writing an incredible story.

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