In our dozen Boston.com Book Club books, we’ve read books on sports, but we haven’t read one yet that focuses on a professional Boston sports team. That changes in October, as our pick is “Better To Be Feared: The New England Patriots Dynasty and The Pursuit of Greatness” by ESPN’s Seth Wickersham.
Excerpts from the book on the Patriots dynasty enter the friction of Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft, Tom Brady
The book, which comes out on October 12, focuses on the Patriots’ 20-year reign as they became the greatest dynasty in football. Wickersham began his career with ESPN the same year Bill Belichick and Tom Brady landed in New England, and Wickersham has looked into many of his own interviews. On the back of the book, he offers 25 pages of notes on his sources for the book, which he begins by saying that the content of the book is “derived from hundreds of interviews lasting hundreds of hours.” This is an example of the unprecedented level of detail that has gone into this book.
Attention to detail and organic rapport form the basis of many good non-fiction books, but to make a book compelling it needs to have a narrative flow. With sports books in particular, the books tend to crumble due to the urge to recap every moment of action on the pitch until the thread gets lost, buried under a mountain of exposure. Wickersham skillfully avoids this trap.
As you might expect, the book revolves around the Patriots trinity, head coach / general manager Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft. But there are plenty of other featured players inside and outside the organization – Roger Goodell, Josh McDaniels, Jerry Jones, Malcolm Butler, Tom Brady Sr., Peyton Manning, Eric Mangini, Joe Montana. , Julian Edelman and many others. With a lot of these folks, you don’t just understand how they fit into the context of the Patriots’ greatness, but how they came to fit into that context. Even devoted Patriots fans will learn new things about the people they’ve followed for decades.
The book has already received a lot of praise. Ringer CEO Bill Simmons comes up with the grander, saying, “Seth Wickersham has done the impossible: he has achieved the definitive Belichick / Brady dynasty document. The book also received accolades from national writers like Peter King (NBC Sports), Sally Jenkins (The Washington Post), Kevin Merida (Los Angeles Times), Albert Breer (MMQB / NBS Sports Boston), Kevin Telander (Chicago Sun-Times), to name a few. King called it a “tour de force,” saying, “Do you think you know everything, or almost everything, about the Patriots dynasty? You don’t, and you won’t, until you read “Better to be feared.” “
The book is Wickersham’s first. A senior writer at ESPN, Wickersham joined the network upon graduating from University of Missouri journalism school, and his work is featured frequently on “Outside the Lines.” He is perhaps best known for his pieces he wrote / co-wrote about the Patriots’ Spygate and Deflategate scandals. An article he co-wrote with Don Van Natta Jr. about Jerry Jones trying to get Roger Goodell fired was featured in “The Best American Magazine Writing 2018”.
Joining Wickersham for this month’s live chat is… me! As I work with Boston.com each month to select the Book and the Book Club bookseller, I hesitated to put myself in front of the camera, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to talk about this book with Wickersham. If you don’t know who I am, allow me to introduce myself again. My name is Paul, I am the owner / operator of Silver Unicorn Bookstore in Acton, Massachusetts. Prior to joining the bookstore community, I worked in the sports industry for over a decade, eventually finding a niche as a sports writer and editor. for many outlets, including Boston.com.
Now I carry books. I opened The Silver Unicorn in 2018, and we were fortunate to be warmly welcomed into our community during our first three years and more. We pride ourselves on the three Cs – curation, convenience and community, which I spoke about when we were featured on “Chronicle” in 2019.
Join our next Book Club virtual discussion
Join the Boston.com Book Club at October 27 at 6 p.m. for a virtual chat with Paul Swydan of Silver Unicorn Bookstore and ESPN Writer and Lead Author Seth Wickersham on “Better To Be Feared: The New England Patriot Dynasty and The Pursuit of Greatness.”
Pre-order “Better to be afraid” from: Bookstore | The Silver Unicorn Bookstore
Publisher Liveright is raffling 10 free copies of “Better To Be Feared” for Boston.com readers. RSVP to the event and submit a discussion question for a chance to win! (Open only to residents of the United States or Canada.)
Can’t you wait? Buy a ticket to The Silver Unicorn in-person launch event on October 11 with Wickersham and columnist Chad Finn at The Bull Run restaurant in Shirley.
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