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A Sense of Where You Are by John McPhee

A Sense of Where You Are (1965)

by John McPhee

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John McPhee's glowing 1965 profile of Bill Bradley college basketball career at Princeton, the author's first book, is well-written with a scholarly approach to the game. The book captures Bradley's character and aspirations, and includes keen insights into the elements of his game and his training and practice regimens. McPhee skillfully breaks down the elements of Bradley's moves, his signature shots, and his overall approach to basketball, while also providing a time-capsule look at college basketball in the 1960's. Overall. this is a solid, albeit brief, biography of one of the great student athletes of the 20th century. ( )
  ghr4 | Aug 20, 2016 |
Little bit slight but very well-written. Captures McPhee and Bradley at the start of their careers. Bradley's focus poise and determination in his pursuit of excellence in college basketball and a legitimate college education is incredible. There will likely never be a "student athlete" on par with Bradley again if one does exist. McPhee had the foresight to record the phenomenon while in the midst of it occurring. ( )
  RDHawk6886 | Sep 14, 2013 |
Bill Bradley was born in a small Missouri town, the son of the town's banker, who taught him discipline, hard work, and a love of learning, and his wife, a fiercely competitive but loving former athlete. Their son was one of the most celebrated schoolboy athletes in Missouri history, and was offered scholarships to over 70 colleges to play basketball. However, he chose to attend Princeton University, which did not provide athletic scholarships and was not known for its basketball team, as he had higher aspirations beyond sports.

He began to play with the varsity team as a sophomore, as freshmen were not allowed to participate in varsity athletics at that time, and immediately became the star player of the team. Princeton quickly became an Eastern basketball powerhouse, culminated by the 1964-65 team in Bradley's senior year, which reached the NCAA Final Four before losing in the national semifinal to Michigan. Bradley's last collegiate game was against Wichita State in the third place game, and Bradley, normally a pass first, shoot second player despite his immense talent, was given free rein by his coach to shoot and score at will. He finished the game with 58 points, which is still the record for the most points scored by an individual player in a Final Four game.

After his collegiate career he attended Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship, and then became an NBA star with the New York Knicks, helping them win two championships, in 1970 and 1973. After his retirement he entered politics, and served as the junior U.S. Senator from New Jersey for three terms. He retired from the Senate in 1997, and ran an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. presidency in 2000, losing to Al Gore. After that defeat he left politics, but he maintains an active public life, as he has written six nonfiction books and hosts a weekly radio program.

John McPhee grew up in Princeton, as his father served as the physician for the university's athletic department. He attended Princeton, and while working as a writer in New York his father called him to come see a kid on the freshman basketball team, who his father described as possibly the best basketball player, bar none. McPhee attended a game with his father, followed Bradley over his career at Princeton, and wrote his first book about him, in 1965.

A Sense of Where You Are describes Bradley's upbringing in Missouri, and his basketball career at Princeton, including his work ethic and approach to the game, which was far beyond even the best players at his level and allowed him to surpass his modest physical abilities. McPhee also portrays Bradley as a well rounded student athlete who participated fully in campus life and maintained a sense of modesty and humbleness that seems archaic, yet refreshing. The latest edition of the book contains numerous photos of Bradley in action, along with addenda written in 1978 and 1999.

I would highly recommend A Sense of Where You Are for any sports fan, but this would be of interest for anyone who appreciates good journalism or wants to learn about an inspiring and influential man. ( )
4 vote kidzdoc | Aug 15, 2010 |
I can still recall specific mental images conjured by McPhee's storytelling in this book. It opened the world of non-fiction to me.Though I grew up in a New Yorker house, as a kid I used it only to find Chas. Addams and other cartoons; until I read this book and my dad told me that McPhee was a New Yorker writer. That began a lifelong affair with the magazine, and with this brilliant writer. ( )
  dbeveridge | Jun 9, 2010 |
A great beginning for both John McPhee and Bill Bradley. ( )
  darwin.8u | Mar 18, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374526893, Paperback)

First published in 1965, A Sense of Where You Are is the literary equivalent of a harmonic convergence, a remarkable confluence of two talents--John McPhee and Bill Bradley--at the beginning of what would prove to be long and distinguished careers. While McPhee would blossom into one of the best nonfiction writers of the last 35 years, Bradley segued from an all-American basketball player at Princeton, to Rhodes Scholar, to NBA star, to three terms in the U.S. Senate. McPhee noticed greatness in Bradley from the start; the book is an extension of a lengthy magazine profile McPhee wrote early in Bradley's senior year; the title comes from Bradley always knowing his position in relation to the basket. What's so noteworthy about the book is the greatness it promised--both for writer and for subject, a greatness both have delivered through the years again and again.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:20 -0400)

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