Book Reviews: A Festive Five

The Birmingham Post (England), November 27, 2014 | Go to article overview

Book Reviews: A Festive Five


THERE seems to have been more over-rated sports books published than usual this year, a fault not necessarily specific to the genre.

Nevertheless, surely time can be called on bland, big-name 'autobiographies' littered with prolonged bouts of score-settling and name-calling? Those searching for a decent, well-written, even inspirational, read however, have much from which to select and in the first part of our seasonal preview, we've chosen five books that would grace any Christmas stocking.

Ricky Ponting's At The Close Of Play was published too late to make our list last December, but this is considerably more than an autobiography assembled to fit around a series of impressive cricket statistics.

Ponting was such a natural cricketer that he secured a sponsorship contract with a bat manufacturer by the time he was 12. He went on to play in more than 160 Tests for Australia.

This mammoth book confirms that he deserves his place in cricket's pantheon.

Several compelling threads run through Ping-Pong Diplomacy, not least the story of how table tennis led directly to a remarkably speedy melting of the icy relationship that had once engulfed China and the USA.

The parallel story of Ivor Montagu story could be made into a movie, while the author's meticulous research and engaging narrative make it a joy for anyone, not just table tennis fans, to read. …

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