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Publisher's Summary

The 25th anniversary edition of the number-one New York Times best seller and Sports Illustrated's best football book of all time, with a new afterword by the author

Return once again to the timeless account of the Permian Panthers of Odessa - the winningest high school football team in Texas history.

Socially and racially divided, Odessa isn't known to be a place big on dreams, but every Friday night from September to December, when the Panthers play football, dreams can come true. With frankness and compassion, H. G. Bissinger unforgettably captures a season in the life of Odessa and shows how single-minded devotion to the team shapes the community and inspires - and sometimes shatters - the teenagers who wear the Panthers' uniforms.

©1990 H. G. Bissinger (P)2015 Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Nostalgia for a Simpler Time and Place

This book brought back a lot of memories for me. High school football can be the moment of glory for many out there, then reflected upon as a chapter in life that one will spend the majority of his life with his best days behind him.

This book isn't completely focused on the Permian program itself, but also shows how life was in 1980's Odessa Texas. It covers the town history, racial tensions, and oil boom/bust periods. But above it all, it reveals a town's pride for its high school football team that shines through—pride that is fundamental to its nature, to its identity. These people depend on high school football to survive. More than just an escape from the financial ruin that has set in since the Texas oil bust, high school football is the only thing that matters. They live vicariously through these teenagers, these children, as if they are somehow their only connection to anything good or right in the world. Bissinger describes how as the seniors finished their final games, the shock of no longer being relevant sets in, and they turn into just another fan afterwards.

I found myself getting caught up in it: the excitement, the rush, the adrenaline of the game. It’s dangerous. It’s dangerous to glamorize something that should really only represent a small part of someone’s life, but it was easy to understand how one could get wrapped up in it. That's a concept a lot of former players can relate to.

Overall: I liked this book. Although at times I thought the history of the town portions were too much of a page filler rather than useful information. The main problem is that this book is about so many things - the history of the town, the lives of the people in it, and obviously, football. If you've got an interest in Texas and football, this is a good place to start. Heck, you might even get an itch to go see a high school football game yourself afterwards.

The narrator Tom Stechschulte is a personal favorite of mine, and he did a great job on this book.

If this review helped you, please click the button below...thanks.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Bill
  • Vancouver, WA, United States
  • 12-27-15

Terrific audiobook!

What made the experience of listening to Friday Night Lights the most enjoyable?

More of a sociological treatise than a football book, it still holds up well after almost thirty years. It examines what happens when a Texas town (Odessa) emphasizes football over academics. The results are not surprising but the story follows several players of different races and that makes up the bulk of the story.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Liked all of the student/football players equally well. What happens to each is fascinating.

Which character – as performed by Tom Stechschulte – was your favorite?

Did not have one. The narration was fine but I docked one star because the narrator sometimes sounded like he had a cold.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Silly question but it was a riveting listen.

Any additional comments?

I recommend this audiobook highly!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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More than just a football story

Talk about commitment. The author quit his job in the north east and moved to Odessa, Texas for a full year to do his research. He would have been hard pressed to pick a better year, with a robust set of players with talent and personality which helped bring the book to life. I grew up and played football within a decade of the 1988 season he picked. His descriptions of what high school football is to Texas is very eloquently done. He really dives into the lives of his 6 main characters. The book also does a great job of describing the history of the area, of oil, business and the politics of West Texas. His update of the 6 key players he covered 25 years later really brings a nice end to the story. The series is good, the movie is great, but the book bests them both. I loved the voice on the audio version. Found myself listening to the ends of chapters in my garage all the time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Still relevant all these years later

Took me forever to get around to finally reading FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. I worried that it might seem dated so many years after its original publication. After all, the events in the book take place pre-Internet. Would the high school seem like a throwback? Would the story still seem relevant?

The answer is "yes" and "yes."

The book really is a classic, and no matter when you've played, coached, or watched high school football, many of the players and emotions will be recognizable. The immediacy and emotion of the story have not faded with time. Bissinger's writing is terrific and evocative.

A 25th anniversary addenda brings the reader up to speed on what some of the key people in the book are up to now that they've reached middle age.

If you love sports, don't wait to read this one. I regret it took me so long to finally enjoy it.

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Better than the movie

Being from Odessa I really looked forward to the movie but was completely disappointed when I took my family to the theater to watch it...the book is almost always better than the movie and this one takes that to extremes!

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Eye opening revelation into MOJO football.

An unveiling look into the world of MOJO football, a look at the once mystical kings of West Texas football.

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  • Philip
  • Milwaukee, WI, USA
  • 11-25-17

Worth the wait

After listening to Three Nights in August by the same author and reading various reviews of Friday Night Lights in print, I was puzzled why there was not an audiobook. Perhaps the author was waiting for the 25th anniversary edition to come out. Whatever the reason, it was well worth the wait.

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great book. poor narration

fantastic story and writing. the narrator makes every individuals voice sound like a slack jawed yokel.

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The narration makes this classic even better!

The book itself is a singular masterpiece of shoe-leather sports and culture journalism, and the narration, performed with passion and abandon (even if best digested with a dose of period-piece license), makes this an even more pleasing and unforgettable read. I loved every detail and every turn of phrase. Read it.

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great book

it addresses the absolute bigotry and racism that the movie neglected. of course I understand why the movie would not have went too deep into the huge discrepancies afflicting blacks. With that being said, this book REALLY has me wanting to follow in the authors footsteps and construct a documentary. This is, both, an entertaining read and an informative piece. I loved it