ESPN began as an outrageous gamble with a lineup that included Australian Rules Football, rodeo, and a rinky-dinky clip show called Sports Center. Today the empire stretches far beyond television into radio, magazines, mobile phones, restaurants, video games, and more, while ESPN's personalities have become global superstars to rival the sports icons they cover.
Chris Berman, Robin Roberts, Keith Olbermann, Hannah Storm, Bill Simmons, Tony Kornheiser, Stuart Scott, Erin Andrews, Mike Ditka, Bob Knight, and scores of others speak openly about the games, shows, scandals, gambling addictions, bitter rivalries, and sudden suspensions that make up the network's soaring and stormy history. The result is a wild, smart, effervescent story of triumph, genius, ego, and the rise of an empire unlike any television had ever seen.
©2011 Tom Shales, James Andrew Miller (P)2011 Hachette
While the narrator who covered the male contributors did a fine job, the gentleman who framed the segments sounded mush-mouthed and hurried. More, the female narrator was far too dramatic in relation to the content of the book. Her breathless and over-emotional reading seemed cut from a different book.
As "inside stories" go, this is trailing the pack. I suppose it is a nice thing to have all of one's suspicions about the disfunctionality of the world wide leader affirmed with out of context quotes and anecdotes, but this book could have been ten times the "expose" it claims to be. Disappointing.
Yes, very detailed and certainly some parts (the NBA section for me) were a bit too much detail but...'growing up' with ESPN since it's inception (watching on TVs at college!) it brought back memories and thoughts about this 'wild idea' that took hold all those years ago.
It might have been nice to have different voices for the different 'characters' but it didn't detract too much from the experience.
Highly recommended for any fan of sports and/or for folks wanting to study business trials and tribulations of making an idea into a reality and then a dominant force.
Interesting story horribly narrated. Two of the narrators should never do audiobooks. Can't even get the pronunciation of ESPN employees' names (Golic and Bilas) correct. Note to authors: Hire professional narrators. It's worth the extra money.
The narration suffered from stiff timing and over pronunciation. The female narrator was the most trying of the bunch but they were all poor.
Too much time spent on the business side and not enough on the on-air or even production staff. I really was looking forward to this and the whole execution of the idea left me more glad to be done with it. Several times I wanted to abandon it but plowed ahead anyways in some masochistic stupor
I liked getting the inside scoop on all of the prominent ESPN personalities from behind the scenes. You get to see the human and flawed side of these people that put on the polished act in front of the screen.
I have not read many books related to sports, so I don't have a good comparison. Most of the text consisted of first person quoted accounts as opposed to a third person narrative. Felt more like an in depth conversation at cocktail party.
I have not listed to these narrators before. I liked the fact that they had a man and a woman to do the voices depending on who was being quoted in the book.
The book did not have a crescendo that moved me in particular. I am a big ESPN fan and sports fan in general, so I was interested in the historical evolution of the station that paralleled the evolution of sports in general.
If you are a sports fan, you will love this book. It brought back many sports memories through the eyes of ESPN.
There was a lot of name dropping of ESPN behind the scenes executives. It was a little hard to keep up with all of them and what their role was in the organization.
The fact that the sports backdrop was always woven into the anecdotes helped to keep the book entertaining.
The female narrator almost ruined all the parts of the book she performed, as she was WAY too emotional and made some amazing women sound like complete ditzes with her deep sighs and ridiculous emphasis. In fact, it seemed like she changed the meaning of some statements you can't imagine meaning what they sounded like with her performance. I have no idea if she was directed to be that way or if she's that terrible, but either way, it was a fail that negatively impacts the listening experience greatly.
Interesting story about the meteoric rise of ESPN from the early, concept/entrepreneurial days to its current status as a behemoth in the entertainment industry. Reveals a lot of the "unique" culture behind the company.
Atrocious narration, though. I've never written a review but this caused me to do so. I presume reading the book would be significantly better and I recognize the difficulty in narrating a book that is largely made up of quotations. However each of these narrators was awful. Their inflection on many of the quotes was clearly incorrect from how the primary speaker had intended. These small shifts are not only annoying to listen to, they can actually change how we perceive someone's entire opinion in certain situations. With so many different personalities I recognize that it would be impossible to get them to each narrate their own quotes, but we could at least have narrators that put some time and thought into what the original speaker might be saying before they record their lines.
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.
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