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The Hustle: One Team and Ten Lives in Black…

The Hustle: One Team and Ten Lives in Black and White

by Doug Merlino

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I put off reading this book longer than I should have -- I've worked and lived in the Bronx all my adult lives, and this book absolutely rings true.

I found this well written, and interesting ( )
  sdunford | Sep 6, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I’m a bit unsure how to approach reviewing this book. Framed as the story of a mixed race youth basketball team formed in 1980s Seattle, the book speaks more about race relations in general, the fractious neighborhoods in post-segregation America, and how this affects our lives. Merlino, after reading about the murder of one of his teammates, sets out to track down all the members of the team and see what has happened in their lives. The white students, all of the most prestigious private school in Seattle, are very successful, while the black students range from somewhat successful to almost without hope. While the story is interesting, it is also unsurprising. These are the things we see and live every day – a team of demographic statistics – which makes for a pretty depressing read. Merlino doesn’t try to offer any easy answers, or even suggest that the team changed their lives in any large way. But at the same time, he does think that it was meaningful and ultimately a good thing. I suppose that’s why I find myself so conflicted. The book is well written, and entertaining, but I don’t feel like I came to any conclusions or learned anything I didn’t already know. ( )
1 vote janemarieprice | Mar 4, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In The Hustle, author Doug Merlino is spurred to take a sentimental journey back to visit members of an interracial basketball team he participated on. Privileged white kids from a prep school and underprivileged black kids from the projects were put in this "social experiment" Some of the motivation was simply that the coach wanted the underprivileged kids to have a chance to play at the schools and tournaments that they couldn't afford.

Doug's wonder about what happened to his old teammates was precipitated by finding a newspaper article about one of the players having been killed, partially dismembered, and dumped in a ditch. Doug finds that many of the players dealt with a lot of the same issues, racial and otherwise, often coming at them from different angles. He clearly spends a lot of time researching environment vs. evolution and devotes much space to giving the reader the background of the culture, economics, and location. The Hustle is set in and around Seattle during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

What results is a readable and interesting look at a teeny tiny case study of socio economic factors. Doug's voice is inquisitive and alternatively that of a college professor lecturing the class. At points he gets to the heart of the matter and engages the reader, and at others he rambles to himself. However, overall, this book was interesting, but rambles a bit.
  princesspeaches | Dec 15, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
When I picked up this book, I expected a pure sports book. Even though that is not what this book was, it was engaging enough to not leave me disappointed.

In the first part of the book, Merlino recounts his time on an integrated kids' basketball team in 1986 Seattle. He weaves the narratives of the games and time the team spends together with the history of Seattle's founding and early history. The book's transition takes place when Merlino learns of the murder of one of his teammates in 1991. The second part of the book finds Merlino reconnecting with the teammates, black and white. These encounters prompt a deep analysis of the sociology of education in the US and the divide between black and white. Merlino's analysis is incisive, and the limited sports vignettes are well done.

The book was marketed as being similar to Michael Apted's Up series. It did live up to this billing, but not fully. I think most sports fans with no interest in American society will be bored by this book. People with an interest in sociology and race relations will have a much better time. ( )
  reenum | Sep 3, 2011 |
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Chronicles a social experiment through which wealthy white and disadvantaged African-American basketball athletes were put together to form a youth team that also enabled the black players to attend private school, revealing what became of them years later.… (more)

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