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American Work-Sports: A History of…
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American Work-Sports: A History of Competitions for Cornhuskers,…

by Frank Zarnowski

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I very much enjoyed this look back at the sports that grew organically out of the jobs their competitors were involved in. While the writing was a touch dry, the information was well-researched and clearly presented. The organization of examining a different work-sport with each chapter did give rise to a fair bit of repetition which made even this very compact book drag a bit. Ultimately, I went into the book thinking I already knew a fair bit about the topic and was pleased to learn things I didn't know. That's always a plus for me. ( )
  rosalita | Aug 10, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
American Work-Sports by Frank Zarnowski

Well-written book about forgotten sports in American history. The author tells about the boredom of working certain jobs leading to making sport or entertainment out of the work.
This is a great reference for researchers. ( )
  GigiHunter | Jan 9, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Work-sports was one of those topics where it turns out I knew lots of little pieces of but never the whole picture, or even realized there was a whole picture to look at and this book does a good job of giving you that bigger picture and giving it the importance it really deserves considering how big a part of our developing history it was, and is to the people who participated in them.

Each chapter deals with a different work-sport and while I think this did allow for a more in depth look at each one I also felt it lead to a lot of repetition in explaining how this qualifies as a worker sport and how it has been overlooked by your typical historians, as well as making it hard to place them into a context of time, at least for me, one of the few issues I had with this book.

I had no idea what to expect from this book since this was not a topic I had ever read or even heard much about and I was quite pleased at how engaging and fun it was, as well as how historically relevant I found it to be. ( )
  Kellswitch | Dec 19, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
If you want facts, this book has plenty, based on solid research judging by the notes and bibliography. But the book is more than a bunch of dry numbers. The facts are skillfully intertwined with lots of real-life stories. I loved the mini-biographies! I found the glimpses of obscure people who were famous in their day fascinating. And the pictures were a wonderful part of the story, well placed and relevant.

The author seemed sensitive to the fact that some readers of American Work Sports will go straight to the section of the book that is of special interest to them. Thus, one can open the book to the middle and read about lumberjacks and not feel totally lost because the first chapter has not been read. Yet, the author handled this so skillfully that while I noticed some things pointed out more than once, I did not feel bogged down in repetition.

I liked this book from the first page right through the appendices. I even read some of the chapter notes. I find that I quite enjoy thinking of myself as a part of a nation in which we work long hours, and still find a way to play. I felt a pride in America as I read American Work Sports. Look at us: we work really hard. And we play. We fight. We are competitive. We brag. We gamble. We’re not always good, but we are interesting. ( )
  Merryann | Dec 14, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Too little material, too much theorizing and criticizing. Zarnowski's decision to organize his history by work-sport first and chronology second means he repeats himself a lot, especially when explaining how each work-sport probably began as informal challenges to liven up the workday and eventually became more organized and rule-bound. Some work-sports also don't seem to have much information available and their chapters need to be filled out with facts or speculations or even talking about Abe Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson as work-sports athletes (?!). (It was also an odd decision to exclude cooking, given the rise of Chopped and other Food Network competitions, but to devote any time at all to hat-making and newspaper folding.) Zarnowski obviously feels work-sports have been neglected and reminds the reader of that at every opportunity, even calling out other historians by name (as if they'd chosen to ignore or minimize work-sports just to slight him) and making the book much less enjoyable as I went along. A pity, since work-sports does deserve a fuller treatment -- this book just isn't it. ( )
  bostonian71 | Dec 4, 2013 |
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