“How Life Imitates Sports: A Sportswriter Recounts, Relives, and Reckons with 50 Years on the Sports Beat” by Ira Berkow, Sports Publishing, 379 pages, $24.99.
“Gods at Play: An Eyewitness Account of Great Moments in American Sports” by Tom Callahan, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 290 pages, $26.95.
Readers who have previously visited this space may have noted a propensity by the reviewer to favor books revolving around sports or history. Some may find these topics irrelevant or frivolous. The reviewer will respectfully disagree as the two books reviewed today should illustrate.
Ira Berkow and Tom Callahan are veteran sports writers whose careers have mirrored the span of sporting events and athletes vicariously witnessed by the reviewer. Their respective books, “How Life Imitates Sports,” and “Gods at Play,” will evoke memories which readers of a similar vintage have used to mark their own passages through time.
As acclaimed newspaper and magazine journalists and columnists as well as successful authors of numerous books, Berkow and Callahan have had access to virtually every major event and player in any spectator sport during the past six decades.
It is fascinating to compare their respective opinions on such controversial figures as Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Pete Rose and Tiger Woods and to discover how often they concur. Few significant events, even the “made for television” tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1972, escape their mutual scrutiny.