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Prose Bowl
December 27, 2004
Legends, scandals and one very cold swimmer: SI's best books of 2004
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December 27, 2004

Prose Bowl

Legends, scandals and one very cold swimmer: SI's best books of 2004

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Viking Books, $27.95

You can taste the Scotch and smell the perfume in this rich portrayal of the ultimate playboy, but Kriegel's burrowing reveals the physical and emotional anguish Namath endured. Life after football isn't always pretty for Broadway Joe; Kriegel shows Namath is all the more fascinating for being flawed.

HOW SOCCER EXPLAINS THE WORLD

by Franklin Foer

Harper Collins, $24.95

Mixing reporting, geopolitical analysis and anthropology, Foer explains the inexorable power of futbol. His far-flung adventure introduces us to fascinating characters, including the diehards who rally behind FC Barcelona to assert Catal´┐Żn independence and the Scottish fans of Rangers and Celtic, whose mutual hatred has as much to do with religion as sport.

THE MATCH

by Bruce Schoenfeld

Amistad, $24.95

Though Althea Gibson was the first black tennis player to win a major title (in 1956), she spent much of her later life poor and forgotten. Eschewing conventional biography, Schoenfeld focuses on the partnership between Gibson, the Harlem-raised daughter of a South Carolina sharecropper, and Angela Buxton, a Jew from a wealthy London family. The pair formed a championship doubles team and a five-decade friendship.

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