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Personal Fouls [Hardcover]

Peter Golenbock
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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From Library Journal

Cancelled by Simon & Schuster earlier this year, Golenbock's book is due out from its new publisher in supposedly unaltered form, despite warnings from North Carolina State that the charges it makes are false and insufficiently substantiated. Among other allegations, Golenbock states that players' grades were fixed by Coach Valvano, positive drug tests were kept secret, and players received money, cars, etc., from a special fund. Golenbock is co-author of The Bronx Zoo (LJ 4/15/79) and other books. Watch for the fallout . -- MR
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
2.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic of investigative reporting April 27 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
A measure of how splendid a job Golebock did in Personal Fouls is the intense hatred he stirred up among both NCSU fans and those who support similar programs at a hundred Div I institutions across the country.
The lies and misrepresentations in other reviews on this board are evidence of the lengths these people will go to discredit a book that put them in a state of blind terror simply by telling the truth. Readers who want to know the whole story should get the Signet paperback edition, which has a 50 page afterword detailing how the Wolfpack Club and NCSU came down on Simon & Schuster, the publishers who originally contracted to do the book, with threats of multi-million dollar lawsuits (to be undertaken at NC taxpayer expense), and threats from the NC State Attorney General's office.
None of it worked. When Carol & Graf published the hardback, the threats and bluster melted away like a snowball under an August sun -- Div I sports boosters are bullies, and bullies are almost always cowards -- Valvano was investigated and fired, Chancellor Poulton resigned, and new revelations (about point shaving, for instance), which were NOT covered in Golenbock's book, surfaced almost weekly. What came to light was one of the filthiest programs in the history Div I sports,and the dishonesty and cynicism of a sociopath who used his "charm" to inveigle subliterate basketball players into providing him with a multi-million dollar lifestyle.
Read Personal Fouls. If you do it with an open mind, you'll never watch the "March Madness" TV spectacle with the same naivete again.
To the NCSU supporters and Valvano apologists who try to shout you down, here's a simple answer. Valvano's biggest potential star was a player named Chris Washburn.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not just an "NC-thing" March 8 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I'm compelled to write a review in direct response to a previous reviewer's comment that implies only people from the state of NC hold Personal Fouls in a poor light. First off, it stands to reason that the vast majority of negative responses would come from people closest to the issue. This, however, does not in any way detract from the majority of their concerns with the book. I read the original publication in college and was thoroughly unimpressed. It is laughable to mention this book in the same sentence as Season on the Brink...unless of course you are saying Personal Fouls can't hold a candle to Season on the Brink. The original text was riddled with misspellings, which certainly calls into question the book's overall validity. Are we to believe Golenbock's telling of the story when he and his editors cannot correctly spell the name of the men's basketball coach at Wake Forest University (ACC rival) during Valvano's tenure (Carl Tacy). How much research and editing does that take to get right? If you pick up Personal Fouls expecting a juicy scandal with informative looks into the seedy underworld of college basketball...prepare for ultimate disappointment.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Worst book I have ever read. May 18 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Not only was It's only use bringing down one of the nicest guys in the world an a hero to some of us, but it is very one sided. It failed to mention that this was nothing compared to the false test scores, free cars, and multiple recruting violations at nearby UNC and Wake Forest. How about someone writes a book about how Dean Smith had a graduation rate at the same low level as Jim, and how one in four UNC players went to prison/jail. Also, the storytelling is very repetitive and is overall painful to read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.3 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
45 of 61 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Much Ado About Nothing May 21 2001
By beowolf - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A fellow reviewer says "author Peter Golenbock gives us a side of college basketball that is rarely seen: corruption." Problem is, with "Personal Fouls" Golenbock gives book publishing something that is quite commonplace: fiction.
"Personal Fouls" tells of point-shaving and illegal recruitment at the NC State basketball program, but it is instructive to note that the original publisher of the manuscript, Pocket Books, rejected it for failing to meet company standards (and later published Valvano's account). "Personal Fouls" is filled with misspellings and factual errors. The book prompted multiple investigations of the NC State basketball program, including those by NC State, the UNC system and the NCAA, and nary a trace of the point-shaving, illegal recruitment, or any of the other big-time scandals alleged in the book. The bulk of the program's NCAA violations were that athletes sold complimentary tickets and shoes without the coaches' knowledge and that there was "a lack of institutional control" of the program. In fact, Jim Valvano, whose fame was arrogated to help sell this book, was not implicated by the NCAA in any of the violations, nor were any of the other coaches.
Furthermore, upon the conclusion of the NCAA investigation, the NCAA's chief investigator, David Didion, sent Jim Valvano a letter (dated October 26, 1989) in which he told Valvano that "If I had a son, I would feel comfortable with you as his coach and encourage him to learn from you" and that Valvano was "good for intercollegiate athletics, good for N.C. State and good for the NCAA."
Of course, the NCAA investigators actually talked to Jim Valvano, unlike Golenbock, who avoided Valvano in favor of running with anonymous interviews with people nursing grudges against him. Golenbock also avoided NC State Chancellor Bruce Poulton.
What Golenbock wrote may have shaken the world of college athletics, and certainly there was much that needed to be changed, but he did so by alleging high crimes and outrageous deeds at the personal expense of a man who did neither. Imagine, if you can, a world in which Chicken Little was taken seriously, and you'll have an understanding of what Peter Golenbock did. The sky was not falling, but the façades were erected to protect against it anyway. NC State basketball was not rife with corruption as Golenbock alleged, but it was gutted anyway. Arguably college athletics are better off now for the changes wrought after and in some part owing to the publication of "Personal Fouls." But the cost of those changes were borne unfairly by Valvano, NC State University, and on a higher plane, the truth.
Let's be careful here before saying that the changes made are so good they justify the scapegoating of Valvano and NC State. Because if we are suddenly to suggest that the end justifies the means, then we are to adopt the same standard Golenbock invents for NC State basketball under Valvano and then decries.
22 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not just an "NC-thing" March 8 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I'm compelled to write a review in direct response to a previous reviewer's comment that implies only people from the state of NC hold Personal Fouls in a poor light. First off, it stands to reason that the vast majority of negative responses would come from people closest to the issue. This, however, does not in any way detract from the majority of their concerns with the book. I read the original publication in college and was thoroughly unimpressed. It is laughable to mention this book in the same sentence as Season on the Brink...unless of course you are saying Personal Fouls can't hold a candle to Season on the Brink. The original text was riddled with misspellings, which certainly calls into question the book's overall validity. Are we to believe Golenbock's telling of the story when he and his editors cannot correctly spell the name of the men's basketball coach at Wake Forest University (ACC rival) during Valvano's tenure (Carl Tacy). How much research and editing does that take to get right? If you pick up Personal Fouls expecting a juicy scandal with informative looks into the seedy underworld of college basketball...prepare for ultimate disappointment.
33 of 46 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Alternate Title: Pack of Lies May 28 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book should be required reading in every Journalistic Ethics class taught in America, emphasizing what NOT to do.
From lack of fact checking (not to mention Spell-checking), to the use of single-source unconfirmed accusations, to the use of "un-nammed" sources, to just plain making up facts in order to string together a weak thesis, this book has all of the classic elements of Yellow Journalism.
The original publisher of this book refused to print it for the reasons listed above. How this work of fiction ever got published speaks volumes about the ethics of some publishing houses.
In the final analysis, the NCAA, the University of North Carolina board of governors, the Atlantic Coast Conference, North Carolina State University and the North Carolina State Beaureu of Investigation spent a collective 2 years investigating these matters. None of these groups could find any of the wrongdoing alleged in this book.
My rating of this book: Zero Stars - Not worth the paper it's printed on.
18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Where's a fact checker when you need one? May 21 2001
By Randy Whitehead - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is an amazing collection of innuendo, less-than-half-truths, and factual errors so astounding that they would be amusing if not for the damage done by them. From the impossible date sequences and hilariously misspelled names (Carl Tacy, former Wake Forest University basketball coach, is re-christened as "Carl Tasse", as I recall) to the more serious and unsubstantiated charges, there is little right with this book. For those who don't know: despite the litany of claims made in this book (largely by a former team manager who was dismissed by the coach), a lengthy in-depth investigation by the local newspaper, and an investigation by the NCAA, the only improprieties with any factual support were the sale of extra basketball shoes by players and the sale of basketball tickets by players. No drug scandal, no cars, no under-the-table payments, and no grade fixing. The NCAA's lead investigator wrote, in a letter to the coach, that if he had a son who was a college basketball player he would be proud to have him play for that coach.
Hopefully all potential readers of this book are listening: IT'S TIME TO LET THIS BOOK DIE.
16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book is a sham! May 21 2001
By David M. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Zero claims in this book were ever substanciated and there is documented communication between the NCAA, NC State University and Jim Valvano that absolved the latter two from wrong doing. The book was so poorly written (obvious spelling errors, grammatical gaffes, not to mention mostly being a big, fat lie) that the original publisher rejected it as a first class hack job! The only suitable use for this book is to start a fire with it. Quite possibly the biggest work of fiction ever passed off as investigative reporting. Not even the Enquirer gets away with garbage like this!
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