An editor would have been helpful. As it was, it was an endless and seemingly random stream of quotes from various participants in ESPN's rise to glory.
It was as if the authors emailed everyone who ever worked at ESPN, gathered the responses, and cut-and-pasted everything into a giant tome -- no real insights, not much of interest, and no flow.
One of the narrators was decent, although it was challenging because so many of the voices of the players in the book are so familiar. The narrator who read the few, brief connecting pieces (the blurbs between the stream of quotes) sounded as if he were put off to have to read his parts. The woman's role was so over-the-top, "Well, golly!" that it subconsciously made all the female characters sound like ditzes.
I did learn more about the rise of ESPN, but ultimately, I guess, to what end?
This "oral history" is the utter definition of "Inside Baseball". If you are very interested in ESPN, and or the TV/media business you'll enjoy this book. If you're only a casual fan this may no be the book for you.
The first "part" is a slow burn because it's mainly about the very early days of ESPN. Literally stuff like how they bought the satellite time and cable operator negations. Once it got to more modern times and talked about people I actually had heard of I started to enjoy it more.
This book had a lot of interesting content and background. It got a bit long and rambling towards the end, where they spent more time on more minute details from recent activities vs. the early days (which were more interesting). The performance, particularly parts read by the author, were not very good. The author's voice is very scratchy and hard to listen to. Also annoying was that they couldn't be troubled to pronounce many sports figures' names correctly.
I am a big fan of ESPN and have watched it from the very beginning. The birth and growth of this network was intriguing to me. I was expecting a sports book. But surprisingly we get a lot of insight into corporate America, contract negotiations, and company politics. For insight into executive management of a high growth company, this book delivered a surprising result.
Unfortunately, the writers were lazy by just citing interview after interview. The content was solid, and the access they received was unprecedented. But there was no insight, perspective, nor conclusions on the events that occurred over the 30 years. Plus, some quotes and conversations appeared to come out of nowhere and provided little overall insight.
The two male actors performed fine. However, the female voice was WAY over the top. I cannot imagine Michelle Tafoya, Erin Andrews, Linda Cohn, or Robin Roberts acting SO over-dramatically when giving their perspectives. In fact, this is the first time that I think the performance of audio book could actual change what a person was trying to say. My guess is the actor reading the female parts probably over emphasized words in sentences that could change what the person was trying to say.
If you can put these distractions aside, and are a big fan of ESPN, this is still worth the buy . The insight into the growth of a sports empire, and the insight into corporate boardroom, is worth the investment.
I loved hearing about the cast of characters and incredible twists of fate that created and sustained ESPN, complete with off-the-wall anecdotes and behind-the-scenes looks at so many people I've only known on-camera. The book has a very personal voice, as it consists mostly of material pulled from interviews the author conducted with everybody connected with ESPN over the years. The narration is uneven - ranging from Matt McCarthy's sturdy, archetypal SportsCenter anchor tone for the male voices that dominate the story to Joan Baker's ill-fitting, semi-cloying tone for the women - with some jarringly mispronounced names late in the book. Still, if you've watched a ton of ESPN over the years or you're interested in the business of sports/entertainment, this is a fun, thorough, and revelatory exploration of the company's history.
I thought this book told a very interesting story extremely well. It gives a certain level of insight that isn't available anyplace else. I also found the narration light and engaging with the changes in point of view which kept me listening even when the subject matter went off on a tangent. The story of the origins of ESPN were especially interesting along with the early days as the new kid on the block. I would recommend this book to all of my friends who love sports and like a good story.
the first 2 parts that dealt with the origin and establishment of ESPN were excellent. The insider view of the various complex negotiations regarding; venture capital, broadcasting rights, production, talent, etc, were fascinating. Part 3 was basically a pointless run down of every show idea ESPN put on the air. Part 4 seemed to be ESPN's chance to address (unchallenged) any negative situations that had arisen over the years and put thier spin on it. The female voice on this audiobook was terrible and made the women sound juvenile and naive.
I think the book was informative and painted some images I wouldn't have seen otherwise. I think the style of writing takes a bit of getting used to and the narrators are not as good as other books.
I grew up with ESPN, and so had high expectations for the book. And, truth be told, there's more than enough great material in this book to make it appealing to most ESPN fans. But the content is so poorly structured and the narration is so uneven that I've considered more than once just turning it off, never to listen again.
I appreciate that the book is more of an oral history than anything else, but even oral histories can be cohesive, with chapters that follow selected themes rather than meandering from topic to topic. The transitions are jarring at best, and it's almost as if this is a compilation of articles rather than a traditional book.
Two of the three readers are embarrassingly bad, especially Joan Baker, who provides the female voices. Everything comes out as breathy and overly dramatic -- ugh. In retrospect, I wish I had picked up the hardcopy.