To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever: A Thoroughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the Duke-North Carolina Basketball Rivalry Paperback – Jan 9 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
[Signature]Reviewed by Sara NelsonFor a reviewer who's not all that clear on the difference between basketball and basket weaving, this book is a revelation. Former Esquire editor Blythe's debut is an examination of the rivalry between the University of North Carolina and Duke University college teams; in it, he interviews and profiles players and coaches, and even gives play-by-plays of key games. And yet, it is not "just" a sports book. At heart it's a memoir. Like Pat Conroy's My Losing Season and even Frederick Exley's A Fan's Notes, to which the author Anthony Wofford compares it, To Hate Like This is about family and passion and people and parents and aging and, oh, yeah, some sports, too.Blythe is a native North Carolinan whose UNC passion was bred in the bone; he and his siblings were raised to be genteel and polite about all things, except while watching basketball games, particularly against arch-rival Duke. After living in New York for many years, Blythe returns home as his father is dying and reflects on the passion that has shaped him and, he suggests, his region. Forget the Mason Dixon line, the real division in this border war is between Carolinians who support the Blue Devils and those who live for the Tarheels.Sports fans can expect to enjoy the accounts of particular pivotal games recounted here, but the real revelations for the relatively uninitiated are Blythe's portraits of his characters: the tough-guy coaches like Mike Krzyzewski and Dean Smith, one of whom nearly breaks down confessing that he's still in love with his ex-wife; the nurse tending Blythe's dying father; and, most of all, the father himself, the kind of personality you expect to meet in great southern novels from Harper Lee to Pat Conroy. To call To Hate Like This a sports book is to be only about one-third right. An elegy to place and time and generation, it is also a story of fathers and sons and an elegant testament to the way pastimes are far more than ways to pass the time. (Mar. 1)Sara Nelson is the editor-in-chief of Publishers Weekly.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
You don’t have to be a Tar Heel or Blue Devil to like [THLT], because it’s funny, perceptive, and smart. (Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post)
An exceptionally entertaining parable in defense of good, healthy, all-American loathing.... an animosity the whole family can share. (New York Post)
The best book about politics I´ve read since All the King´s Men ... it’s about basketball [like] Moby Dick is about whaling. (Hartford Courant)
“A revelation.... an elegant testament to the way pastimes are far more than ways to pass the time.” (Publishers Weekly (signature review))
“The kind of sportswriting that comes along so rarely you can count the classics on one hand . . . read this book.” (Play (New York Times Magazine sports supplement))
“Blythe seduces with his story of Southern identity...passed down from fathers to their roaming sons...raucous, tender, and fierce.” (Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, author of "Random Family")
“The best book on basketball I have ever read ... destined to become a classic of sports literature.” (Pat Conroy)
“Not since Exley’s A Fan’s Notes has anyone produced such a graceful and elegiac evocation of place, family, and sport”. (Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead)
Goes far beyond the facile John Feinstein “inside a season” formula ... [Blythe] writes amusingly, self-deprecatingly and often beautifully. (New York Times Book Review)
Blythe writes like a wizard ... Even if college basketball isn’t your obsession, you’ll get caught up in this. (Elle)
Hilarious and remarkably wise ... you don’t want to say too much about [this book], for fear of spoiling the surprises. (Sports Illustrated)
Blythe makes you want to scream from the sidelines... while his hate is contagious, the obvious affection behind it remains. (New York Post)
Blythe brings great wit, style, and insight... a long-awaited American answer to Fever Pitch. (Baltimore Sun)
The best book about loving a team since “A Fan’s Notes” ... [a book] about a lot more than basketball. (Greensboro News & Record)
Top Customer Reviews
If you aren't a college basketbal fan, you will be lost as Blythe assumes some basic knowledge of the characters. Basically, if you don't know anything about the players before reading this book, they will remain empty to you. If you are an astute college basketball fan, you will thoroughly enjoy the pyscho-analysis of the players and coaches.
Rightly so, Blythe chooses to focus most of his profiles on the seniors and upperclassman. If you think about it, not much will be remembered of Marvin Williams at UNC, having been there for just one year. Instead Melvin Scott gets a lot of love here.
I recommend this read if you are a diehard college basketball fan. Much like Rammer Jammer, To Hate Like This... takes you deep into the psyche of the darker side of sports fans. The maniacal side, the obsessive side.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Even though he isn't, to the best of my knowledge, a sportswriter (strictly speaking) Will Blythe has written an absolutely brilliant book about one of the most storied and heated rivalries in college basketball: UNC vs. Duke.
He has all the qualifications one needs to opine authoritatively: he was born and raised in North Carolina, he went to school at UNC, and like most of us who did (I fit that profile myself), he's a rabid Carolina basketball fan.
And while this book will be of obvious and direct interest to anyone who has spent some time on Tobacco Road--it is as authentically North Carolinian as a plate of barbecue and a glass of sweet iced tea--*any* college basketball fan, or any sports fan, really, or even anyone who appreciates the fine art of the wry personal memoir, would find "To Hate Like This..." engaging and delightful reading.
I also need to state my bias: I grew up in Chapel Hill, ran track in high school with the author and graduated from UNC. But, I was not always a Duke hater. As Will explains so well in the book, Carolina's main rival was David Thompson and NC State when we were coming up. Duke was more of an annoyance than a program to be hated. It was not until the arrival of Coach K that the hating truly started. I even pulled for Duke in out-of-conference games until the early 1990's. My casual dislike evolved into quasi-hatred about the time that Danny Ferry became known as the dirtiest player in the ACC. Then came Christian Laettner and his very un-Christian like stomping of an opposing player as he lay helpless on the floor. Not to mention Coach K's foul mouth and constant carping at the officials. But mostly it is their spoiled brat obnoxious fans whose behavior is encouraged by such luminaries as Dook Vitale. Okay, enough venting.
Will Blythe's book is not just another sports book that chronicles big games and big plays. Perhaps it was fate that he started the book as UNC was on the verge of one of its best seasons ever and another national championship. His chronicles of the careers of the non-stars of that team, Melvin Scott and Jawad Williams, reminds us all of the fleeting nature of sports fame. But the 2005 season is just a convenient backdrop for the bigger story: why is there so much hate?
Native North Carolinians, like Will's father to whom the book is dedicated, dearly love our state. It has beauty, charm and tradition. To many of us, Duke University is just a collection of 20th century buildings made to look old for the elite to send their children who could not get into an Ivy league school. Less than twenty percent of the student body hails from North Carolina. Many of our neighbors view it as simply a place for Yankee interlopers to get their tickets punched before they go back to whence they came and enlarge their fortunes. We don't need them. They are not one of us. Duke's other athletic programs, except for women's basketball, are lame at best. Football is a joke. Their baseball program was terrible until the coach started pushing the players to take steroids. And don't even get me started about the lacrosse team, the grand jury has yet to convene. So, it all comes down to basketball and Coach K for Duke to have national prominence in college athletics.
It is interesting to note the players at the respective schools deeply respect each other and many are friends off the court. It is the fans that create the hate. Will goes into great anecdotal detail about why the animosity is so deep rooted by interviewing fans on both sides. The stories are poignant and occasionally pitiful when you consider how limited some people's lives are if college basketball has become their reason for being.
Where does hate start? My wife and I have done our best to bring our children up to be tolerant, open-minded, respectful and generous to all people. They have worked in food banks, served the homeless and helped build churches in impoverished countries. We hope this has lead to a greater appreciation for what they have and to respect all people. We have, however, clearly failed in one regard as our children cannot stand Duke basketball. Our oldest son heads off to Carolina next year and never had one thought of applying to Duke. A full scholarship would not have persuaded him to go there. He and his younger brother sit in front of the television yelling at JJ Redick as if the TV could somehow transmit their feelings up to the satellite and back down to JJ, imploring him to clank another twenty-six footer. To be even handed, I mentioned once that if I were trying to teach a child how to shoot a basketball properly I would use JJ Redick as a model, his form is so pure. Their response: "dad, why would you teach a kid to shoot forty times a game, it's a team sport."
Perhaps the hatred, like most prejudice, starts at home. Maybe it was a not-so-subtle comment on my part, a rec room filled with Carolina memorabilia, a less than kind word about Coach K, or a constant stream of praise about Carolina tradition and values. Even my wife who grew up in Ohio, a deacon in church, recoils at the sight of Coach K. Like the little boy Will describes who was told whom to root for by his big brother, our own family tradition continues. Reading Will's book helped me understand my own prejudices and that my feet are indeed made of clay. His portrayal of Coach K and Redick also allows me to like them just a little bit. If JJ's favorite album is Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska," he can't be all bad. It also reminded me of the importance of family and loyalty. Will's father would be very proud of this book.
Buy this book, you won't be disappointed.