Review by Booklist Review
In the summer of 1984, Michael Jordan's status as a superstar reached new heights, ESPN became the leader in sports broadcasting, and Peter Ueberroth's unconventional ideas for the 1984 Summer Olympics led to the games actually turning a profit. As readers will discover from this fascinating and occasionally surprising book by Sports Illustrated Executive Editor Wertheim, there was a lot more going on that summer, too. It was the year, Wertheim says, that professional sports became an integral part of popular culture, when it became commonplace for sports stars (Jordan, Bird, McEnroe, Navratilova, Retton, Gretsky) to establish themselves as cultural icons, their names recognized not only by fans, but also by people around the world. It was the year sports became not just a business--it was always that--but an influencer. Nike sponsored athletes, the athletes became stars, and we bought the clothing. Glory Days is part sports history, part cultural analysis, part business book, and it's certain to draw attention far beyond the sports pages.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Sports Illustrated executive editor Wertheim (Blood in the Cage) offers an occasionally entertaining history of developments in sports and culture during the summer of 1984, but fails to demonstrate that they're more than coincidental. There's no denying the year featured noteworthy events: it marked the first NBA Finals battle between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, the Chicago Bulls' drafting of Michael Jordan, and ABC's purchase of ESPN, which enabled the tanking sports cable network to survive and expand. From the creation of the basketball "dream team" that represented the U.S. at the Los Angeles Olympics to the rise of Vince McMahon's WWF, Wertheim offers a sweeping look at those "pivotal" 90 days, but sacrifices depth for breadth and prizes trivia over analysis, giving cultural milestones unrelated to sports a passing glance. Though a "string of blockbusters" hit theaters that summer, for instance, he briefly touches on them and devotes only a single sentence to Ghostbusters and John Hugh's seminal Sixteen Candles. Similarly bewildering is the narrative's clunky prose ("thermodynamics of celebrity makes for an inexact science"), which tends to overshadow more exciting passages, such as Wertheim's detailing of Jordan's "singular talent" for dunking, and the way he would "stuff the ball through, violently yet elegantly." This feels like a missed opportunity. (June)
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Review by Library Journal Review
In the middle of the over-the-top 1980s, a span of 90 days in the summer of 1984 changed the course of American history, writes journalist Wertheim (Sports Illustrated). Far from the bleak imaginings of George Orwell, Wertheim describes 1984 as a year when popular music, computers, blockbuster movies, pro sports, and red-white-and-blue patriotism were foremost in the American consciousness. He has compiled a fascinating and well-researched history of those three summer months when, he writes, the United States went from "black-and-white to Technicolor with Dolby sound." The landmark events described here include the star-spangled Olympic Games in Los Angeles, the peak of Michael Jackson's fame, the emergence of ESPN and Macintosh's personal computer, and Michael Jordan's entry into the NBA, among others. Wertheim makes a convincing (and highly entertaining) case that the summer of 1984 was the jumping-off point for the omnipresence of technology, culture of celebrity, and the increasing commercialization of sports in the U.S. today. VERDICT Historians, sports fans, and any readers interested in American culture will find this a fascinating look at three months with lasting implications. A thought-provoking and recommended choice for all public library collections.--Janet Davis, Darien P.L., CT
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