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Publisher's Summary

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

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    226
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  • 3 Stars
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  • 1 Stars
    11

Performance

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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    148
  • 4 Stars
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  • 3 Stars
    101
  • 2 Stars
    37
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    17

Story

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
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  • 4 Stars
    132
  • 3 Stars
    71
  • 2 Stars
    21
  • 1 Stars
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Good

Very long and almost too detailed. It is all the info you ever wanted on ESPN.

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  • Byron
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 10-29-12

Like Hanging Out At A Cocktail Party

What made the experience of listening to Those Guys Have All the Fun the most enjoyable?

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.

What other book might you compare Those Guys Have All the Fun to and why?

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.

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

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.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

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.

Any additional comments?

If you are a sports fan, you will love this book. It brought back many sports memories through the eyes of ESPN. <br/><br/>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. <br/><br/>The fact that the sports backdrop was always woven into the anecdotes helped to keep the book entertaining.

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  • Peter
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 06-14-12

Interesting Story, Awful Narration

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.

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Endless, Lazy, and Not Very Interesting

What would have made Those Guys Have All the Fun better?

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.

What could James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

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.

Would you be willing to try another one of the narrators’s performances?

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.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

I did learn more about the rise of ESPN, but ultimately, I guess, to what end?

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Very "Inside Baseball"

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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  • Mark
  • Reston, VA, United States
  • 10-01-11

Story is ok; performance not very good

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.

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Strong story hindered by structure & performance

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.

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Fun if you're fascinated by ESPN

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.

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  • Stirling
  • Washington, DC, United States
  • 08-27-11

An insider's view into my favorite network

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.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • DANIEL
  • Howell, MI, United States
  • 07-23-11

A must have for sports fans.

A must have for sports fans, indepth, easy to listen to complete history of everything that is ESPN.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful