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Howard Cosell: The Man, the Myth, and the Transformation of American Sports

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A deeply misunderstood sports legend, once the most hated and loved man in America, gets his due in this absorbing, revelatory biography. Howard Cosell was one of the most recognizable and controversial figures in American sports history. His colorful bombast, fearless reporting, and courageous stance on civil rights soon captured the attention of listeners everywhere. A deeply misunderstood sports legend, once the most hated and loved man in America, gets his due in this absorbing, revelatory biography. Howard Cosell was one of the most recognizable and controversial figures in American sports history. His colorful bombast, fearless reporting, and courageous stance on civil rights soon captured the attention of listeners everywhere. No mere jock turned "pretty-boy" broadcaster, the Brooklyn-born Cosell began as a lawyer before becoming a radio commentator. "Telling it like it is," he covered nearly every major sports story for three decades, from the travails of Muhammad Ali to the tragedy at Munich. Featuring a sprawling cast of athletes such as Jackie Robinson, Sonny Liston, Don Meredith, and Joe Namath, Howard Cosell also re-creates the behind-the-scenes story of that American institution, Monday Night Football. With more than forty interviews, Mark Ribowsky presents Cosell's life as part of an American panorama, examining racism, anti-Semitism, and alcoholism, among other sensitive themes. Cosell's endless complexities are brilliantly explored in this haunting work that reveals as much about the explosive commercialization of sports as it does about a much-neglected media giant.


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A deeply misunderstood sports legend, once the most hated and loved man in America, gets his due in this absorbing, revelatory biography. Howard Cosell was one of the most recognizable and controversial figures in American sports history. His colorful bombast, fearless reporting, and courageous stance on civil rights soon captured the attention of listeners everywhere. A deeply misunderstood sports legend, once the most hated and loved man in America, gets his due in this absorbing, revelatory biography. Howard Cosell was one of the most recognizable and controversial figures in American sports history. His colorful bombast, fearless reporting, and courageous stance on civil rights soon captured the attention of listeners everywhere. No mere jock turned "pretty-boy" broadcaster, the Brooklyn-born Cosell began as a lawyer before becoming a radio commentator. "Telling it like it is," he covered nearly every major sports story for three decades, from the travails of Muhammad Ali to the tragedy at Munich. Featuring a sprawling cast of athletes such as Jackie Robinson, Sonny Liston, Don Meredith, and Joe Namath, Howard Cosell also re-creates the behind-the-scenes story of that American institution, Monday Night Football. With more than forty interviews, Mark Ribowsky presents Cosell's life as part of an American panorama, examining racism, anti-Semitism, and alcoholism, among other sensitive themes. Cosell's endless complexities are brilliantly explored in this haunting work that reveals as much about the explosive commercialization of sports as it does about a much-neglected media giant.

30 review for Howard Cosell: The Man, the Myth, and the Transformation of American Sports

  1. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Million

    Normally, when I reach the end of a biography, and if the subject has had a difficult last several years, beset with health problems and the deaths of family and friends, I feel sad for that person, even if that person had lived a great life. Not so with Howard Cosell. This man truly hated people. Angry, bitter, vicious, frequently inebriated, loud, obnoxious, arrogant, cutting, blowhard, petty, mean. Any of those words describe this man. After a lifetime of berating others and talking down to h Normally, when I reach the end of a biography, and if the subject has had a difficult last several years, beset with health problems and the deaths of family and friends, I feel sad for that person, even if that person had lived a great life. Not so with Howard Cosell. This man truly hated people. Angry, bitter, vicious, frequently inebriated, loud, obnoxious, arrogant, cutting, blowhard, petty, mean. Any of those words describe this man. After a lifetime of berating others and talking down to him, he spent the final few years of his life basically alone and embittered in his posh New York apartment. Cosell had to make his own way into the sports broadcasting business in the late 1950s. I do respect him for that, although not particularly how he went about it: giving players and writers the false impression that he was representing them (he was a lawyer at the time). Basically, Cosell would not shut up and would not go away. He forced his way into a radio gig with ABC in New York and branched out from there, using the then-enormously popular sport of boxing as his entry ticket. He also hooked onto a young Cassius Clay in the early 60s, sensing something special about the brash black boxer from Louisville. Cosell defended him on what mattered most to Clay: his religious preferences and his race, and then when he changed his name to Muhammad Ali and was subsequently stripped of his title for refusing to serve in the Vietnam War. Indeed, that was one of Cosell's most admirable qualities: he was fully supportive of black athletes (Jackie Robinson was also close to him), backed their fights against racial injustice, and also supported the attempt at passing an ERA for women. There were many people who had big platforms back then, but not all of them were willing to use those perches for good causes. Cosell, however, didn't have a second thought about that. Unfortunately, Cosell's negative qualities (which seemed almost never-ending) made him a lightning rod for controversy, and also detracted from the positive things that he did. He seemed to relish having enemies (and Cosell really considered people to be so, in the literal sense of the word). Cosell had feuds that ran decades, would often turn on the friends he did have, berate people for being right when he himself was in the wrong, and stab people in the back. Cosell spent a lot of energy hating people, especially after he retired/left ABC Sports in 1985/1986. One of the themes of Ribowsky's book is that Cosell, for about a quarter of a century, transcended sports. He was bigger than some of the events that he covered. People tuned in as often to hear him as to watch the event, especially with Monday Night Football. Cosell and fellow broadcaster Don Meredith were must-see TV for millions of Americans during the 1970s. It is not a coincidence that ratings dropped once Cosell left the show after the 1983 season. Roone Arledge and the other bigwigs at ABC were willing to put up with him because he brought in viewers. But once Cosell refused to do NFL games anymore, after he already refused to call boxing matches (he came to despise the sport, lashing out at everyone involved with it by the early 80s), and then got into an argument with Al Michaels while working an MLB playoff series resulting in Michaels refusing to work with Cosell anymore because Cosell got drunk in the booth, there was not much left for him to do at ABC. Ribowsky also writes that Cosell was one of a kind. There had not been anyone like him before he burst on the scene. There was nobody else like him for the twenty-five years he was a major sportscaster, and there has been nobody like him since then. The media landscape changed quickly, even making Cosell somewhat of a dinosaur before he died in 1995. With how it is today, I do not see how a single person could ascend to the same peak that Cosell did, let alone stay there for so long. There is very little hard-hitting, serious sports journalism done today. Armen Keteyian is one who is able to do that at times in the sports world, but he is not a sportscaster like Cosell was. Generally the writing is fine. Ribowsky delves so much into Cosell's issues with his father early on that it starts to approach psychoanalysis level, only to almost completely drop Cosell's family life for the rest of the book until the end when his wife gets sick and dies. There are a few errors here and there: one of the photos shows Cosell laughing with Ronald Reagan at the White House, with the caption saying that Cosell once interviewed during halftime on MNF. But, in the book, Ribowsky specifically mentions that Cosell did not interview Reagan then because John Lennon was also in the booth, so Cosell chose to interview Lennon, and left fellow broadcaster Frank Gifford to interview Reagan, which made more sense to him as Gifford was a known Republican supporter and had previously interviewed Richard Nixon. This was an interesting read about mid 20th century American sports media, and Cosell's life was so turbulent that he can't help but be an entertaining figure to read about, even if he remains an unlikable person to read about. With how sanitized sports broadcasters are nowadays, if ABC aired an old MNF game with he, Gifford, and Meredith, I would absolutely watch it. Grade: B+

  2. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    To say Howard Cosell was a sportscaster is to say that Muhammad Ali was a prize fighter. Cosell was the 70's. From sportscasting to entertainment, he was everywhere, including a brief Ed Sullivan-esque variety show. He made Monday Night Football into a national institution, and when he left, it became just another football game. Yet the whole time Cosell never could enjoy his success. He saw enemies real and imagined everywhere. A deeply insecure man (despite his own bluster), he grew up seeing To say Howard Cosell was a sportscaster is to say that Muhammad Ali was a prize fighter. Cosell was the 70's. From sportscasting to entertainment, he was everywhere, including a brief Ed Sullivan-esque variety show. He made Monday Night Football into a national institution, and when he left, it became just another football game. Yet the whole time Cosell never could enjoy his success. He saw enemies real and imagined everywhere. A deeply insecure man (despite his own bluster), he grew up seeing anti-Semitism all around aimed at him. Mark Ribowsky's book reveals this man in all his contradictions and fears. As huge a meteorite as Cosell's was, it ended without even a spark as he just faded from view once he was taken off of ABC's coverage of the 1985 World Series. When his wife Emmy died in 1990, Cosell retreated into his apartment and stayed there till he died five years later. The NFL and Monday Night Football as Americana holds a debt of gratitude to Cosell, and yet he is not enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame's broadcaster's wing. After years of wondering why, Ribowsky explains why. In all his insecurities and anxieties, Cosell made too many enemies. From Frank Gifford to NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, Cosell insulted and attacked them all. In fact by the end of the book, we see him as a bitter, broken down old man, with no one to call a friend.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Len

    For this review...well...I'm gonna tell it like it is! I grew up in the 70s and 80s as a fanatical sports fan so Howard Cosell was a part of my life. Whether it was Monday Night Football, boxing or The Wide World of Sports,Cosell was ubiquitous on ABC and frankly if he wasn't involved it wasn't a major sporting event. Without question though there was no sports broadcasting figure more obnoxious, more arrogant, more in your face or more controversial than Cosell -- you either loved him or hated h For this review...well...I'm gonna tell it like it is! I grew up in the 70s and 80s as a fanatical sports fan so Howard Cosell was a part of my life. Whether it was Monday Night Football, boxing or The Wide World of Sports,Cosell was ubiquitous on ABC and frankly if he wasn't involved it wasn't a major sporting event. Without question though there was no sports broadcasting figure more obnoxious, more arrogant, more in your face or more controversial than Cosell -- you either loved him or hated him and sometimes it was both. I loved Howard Cosell. He knew sports as well as anyone, but he also showed no fear and as a young wannabe journalist how could you ask for a better role model. Cosell said what everyone else thought, and he said it with millions of people listening. He had no fear and he never met a controversial question he wouldn't ask. He was also entertaining like nobody else. Americans wanted to tune into an event that Cosell broadcast, if for no other reason than to find out what the hell he might say. I also loved Cosell because he was a champion of civil rights as far back as the 1940s when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. But it was his unwavering support of Mohamed Ali that truly set him apart from the rest of the news world. The book goes into the Ali story in great detail, and it's clear that Cosell was more than just an entertaining foil for Ali, he was a friend and confidant who helped Ali get through tough times as much as anyone else. Cosell was almost a lone voice on behalf of Ali when he refused to be inducted into the service during Vietnam on conscientious objection. That took courage for Cosell as well as Ali, but as we learn in the book Cosell never thought twice about it, he just knew it was the right thing to do. I don't think it's hyperbole to say that Cosell was an important civil rights figure, and it's definitely not an exaggeration to say that during his heyday he was as famous as anyone else in the entertainment industry. He had his own variety show on ABC, as short-lived as it was! Cosell is such an important part of sports broadcasting history that it's hard to find anyone in the business today that wasn't influenced by him. Just ask Chris "he...could...go...all...the...way" Berman who would be nothing were it not for Cosell. This was a fascinating book, written in great detail by Mark Ribowsky. Cosell had such a fascinating life. He was a lawyer before he was a broadcaster, and he changed his name to Cosell not because Cohen was too Jewish sounding but because Cosell was actually his grandfather's name -- it was changed to Cohen after he came to the U.S. He struggled early in his broadcasting career, but never gave up. He just kept showing up with his tape recorder and doing his thing until you couldn't ignore him anymore. He was also a loving father and doting husband to the love of his life, Emmy. He was at once ashamed of his religion, but also a staunch supporter of Jewish causes and Israel. He was also a raging alcoholic who drank on the air all the time, even in the booth during Monday Night Football. He was loyal to a fault, but the minute you did him wrong in his eyes he'd turn on you like a tiger and tear you apart. He was both the most arrogant man you could ever imagine and at the same time so lacking in self esteem you wonder how he got out of bed in the morning. What an interesting man. This is a great biography, especially if you grew up with Cosell like I did. Fascinating. Just fascinating.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Adrian

    A terrific and affecting read. Ribowsky changed my view of Cosell by showing how he was front and centre in dragging journalism into American sports tv. This is no hagiography. The author reveals the horrid side of Cosell's character- the backbiting, envy, cruelty and magalomania are all fully drawn out. Still Cosell's influence on big issues in sport in particular civil rights for blacks and getting rid of the reserve clause in baseball shows how far ahead of his contemporaries he was. Ribowsky A terrific and affecting read. Ribowsky changed my view of Cosell by showing how he was front and centre in dragging journalism into American sports tv. This is no hagiography. The author reveals the horrid side of Cosell's character- the backbiting, envy, cruelty and magalomania are all fully drawn out. Still Cosell's influence on big issues in sport in particular civil rights for blacks and getting rid of the reserve clause in baseball shows how far ahead of his contemporaries he was. Ribowsky also gives him credit for being great tv and an underrated caller of fights. Cosell intersected most of the big events of the 60s and 70s and they are all covered well here including the antics from the Monday Night football booth. Excellent job.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This is a trip down memory lane. While he has largely faded from memory Cosell probably the most significant sports broadcaster in history. He was very instrumental in the growth of ABC, the entire network, not just its sports divison. The author makes this case as well as laying bare the many troubling character flaws that alienated him from most of his contempories and result in him spending the last years in lonely isolation. The book faithfully introduces the large cast of characters that ar This is a trip down memory lane. While he has largely faded from memory Cosell probably the most significant sports broadcaster in history. He was very instrumental in the growth of ABC, the entire network, not just its sports divison. The author makes this case as well as laying bare the many troubling character flaws that alienated him from most of his contempories and result in him spending the last years in lonely isolation. The book faithfully introduces the large cast of characters that are significant in exploring the complex, talented, influential, and aften cartoonish, personality of Howard Cosell. Most prominent of these is Mohammed Ali. The book is well researched and written.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Erin Haight

    A thorough, fair, and definitive revelation. Cosell was sui generis and if you hadn’t lived through his time he is almost impossible to imagine. No book could possibly bring him fully to life again, but if you want to remember him and fill in the missing spaces, this is the book to read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    I am glad I read this book. It took me back to some of the sporting events I watched on TV as I was growing up. I remember people not liking Howard Cosell, but I have forgotten how passionate people were. I enjoyed reading about the historical events revolving around sports such as Muhammed Ali's fight vs the US government and the terrorist attack at the Summer Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. However, the biggest impact the book had on me was negative feelings about Howard Cosell. He may have h I am glad I read this book. It took me back to some of the sporting events I watched on TV as I was growing up. I remember people not liking Howard Cosell, but I have forgotten how passionate people were. I enjoyed reading about the historical events revolving around sports such as Muhammed Ali's fight vs the US government and the terrorist attack at the Summer Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. However, the biggest impact the book had on me was negative feelings about Howard Cosell. He may have had his good moments, like supporting the cause for Black athletes in America, but his huge ego and insecurities caused him to be such an unpleasant person, a person who could be cold and cruel. So, he did make important contributions to society, but as I finished the book, I just felt sad about how much of a jerk Cosell. Regarding the style of the book, it took me a couple of chapters to get into the book. I found the book easy enough to read, but I admit that the author used many words whose definitions I had to look up. Sometimes I could guess from the context when the meaning was, but other times I was distracted and had to look up the word. After a while, I just decided not to bother because I wanted to keep my reading pace. Ultimately, if you were a sports fan in the 60's and 70's in the US, you will probably find this book interesting. I certainly did.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chip Rickard

    I thought this was a good biography on someone whose public life story has only been written about by himself. It was interesting to read about the years before he was famous and his last years. For some reason the author tended to use a lot of big and obscure words. Perhaps it was a parody of Cosell since he had the tendency to do the same. I suspect, though, that the author had studied so much about Cosell that he had subconsciously picked up that trait. There were a couple of glaring errors in I thought this was a good biography on someone whose public life story has only been written about by himself. It was interesting to read about the years before he was famous and his last years. For some reason the author tended to use a lot of big and obscure words. Perhaps it was a parody of Cosell since he had the tendency to do the same. I suspect, though, that the author had studied so much about Cosell that he had subconsciously picked up that trait. There were a couple of glaring errors in the book. The author referenced "Mad Men" and said it is an HBO show. "Mad Men" is on AMC. Also the author said the USFL lost their antitrust lawsuit against the NFL where in fact they won the lawsuit but were only awarded a dollar (trebled) in damages. While it was a victory for the USFL, it was a Pyrrhic victory.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    I thought this was a very comprehensive, balanced look at a true original in the world of sports journalism. The man was full of contradictions, which may in part explain why I could never quite decide whether I loved him or loathed him. Contrary to many of the reviews posted on this site, I thought the book was of proper length and well-paced. I would have wished for a happier ending for both Howard in particular and sports journalism in general. Unfortunately, so much of sports reporting today I thought this was a very comprehensive, balanced look at a true original in the world of sports journalism. The man was full of contradictions, which may in part explain why I could never quite decide whether I loved him or loathed him. Contrary to many of the reviews posted on this site, I thought the book was of proper length and well-paced. I would have wished for a happier ending for both Howard in particular and sports journalism in general. Unfortunately, so much of sports reporting today is dominated by the jockocracy. We need another Howard, perhaps sans all the narcissism and bluster.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris Dean

    Ribowsky does an excellent job of storytelling for a figure that has faded into the past despite his cultural dominance. This book put him into perspective and shows his proper place in his time. I particularly enjoyed the author's selection of vocabulary for the book; as often times it felt it was written by Cosell himself - well done. The book often "felt loud" as there was so much going on in Cosell's life, especially during his prime... and he probably would have had it no other way. Ribowsky does an excellent job of storytelling for a figure that has faded into the past despite his cultural dominance. This book put him into perspective and shows his proper place in his time. I particularly enjoyed the author's selection of vocabulary for the book; as often times it felt it was written by Cosell himself - well done. The book often "felt loud" as there was so much going on in Cosell's life, especially during his prime... and he probably would have had it no other way.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steve Peifer

    Never could stand the guy, but this book makes a compelling case for Cosell without blinking at his many many issues. I was embarrassed that I picked it up at the library but I don't regret reading the book. Never could stand the guy, but this book makes a compelling case for Cosell without blinking at his many many issues. I was embarrassed that I picked it up at the library but I don't regret reading the book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jay Kennedy

    I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I really did. He's a caricature, and in reality, the reason sports today has gone the way of TMZ. It's something I'm not a fan of, but he was a trendsetter, bigger than life, new the moment, and could make it about him. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I really did. He's a caricature, and in reality, the reason sports today has gone the way of TMZ. It's something I'm not a fan of, but he was a trendsetter, bigger than life, new the moment, and could make it about him.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Len Knighton

    The author seeks to get inside Cosell's head. Ribowsky looks for the inner meaning behind Cosell's writings and broadcasts. Yes, Howard was a complex man who drove away most of his friends and supporters, but his contributions to sports broadcast journalism cannot be overestimated. The author seeks to get inside Cosell's head. Ribowsky looks for the inner meaning behind Cosell's writings and broadcasts. Yes, Howard was a complex man who drove away most of his friends and supporters, but his contributions to sports broadcast journalism cannot be overestimated.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Walt

    Well-written. A very fair treatment of a very complicated individual.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Alexy

    Good book. I knew of Howard Cosell but didn't know a lot of the specifics so I was interested to read more about him. Book flowed fairly well and was pretty compelling. Good book. I knew of Howard Cosell but didn't know a lot of the specifics so I was interested to read more about him. Book flowed fairly well and was pretty compelling.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ben Vogel

    Aside from the first few chapters, this book did a good job of telling the story I wanted to hear. The transformative force Costello was on the broadcasting of American sports, his relationship with Ali, the creation of Monday a night Football, the people who admired him, and the many who did not. The first few chapters weren't bad, in fact background is necessary in any biography, they just weren't as short and concise as they could have been for me. As far as the rest of the book, it progressed Aside from the first few chapters, this book did a good job of telling the story I wanted to hear. The transformative force Costello was on the broadcasting of American sports, his relationship with Ali, the creation of Monday a night Football, the people who admired him, and the many who did not. The first few chapters weren't bad, in fact background is necessary in any biography, they just weren't as short and concise as they could have been for me. As far as the rest of the book, it progressed well and got detailed in the appropriate places for me. The rather ugly truth about Cosell's ego and insecurities was also necessary, but did have a tendency to feel rather cruel at times. If you were one of the people negatively affected by his behavior, though, I'm sure they didn't feel like enough. An important book to understand for a fan of any sport, I think. For broadcasters are our window into the sports, and Cosell definitely shaped what we have today.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paul Miller

    It was always soooo exciting as a little kid to hear that stirring music when Monday Night Football began at 9:00. It was also such a RIP to have to go to bed at 10 - the game had just started! A lot of the excitement came from the uniqueness of Howard Cosell - he actually had an opinion.... that he'd share! If you want to reminisce about that period of time, Ali, Wide World of Sports, Olympics boxing... you'll enjoy this detailed read of the period... and how ABC Sports really transformed the w It was always soooo exciting as a little kid to hear that stirring music when Monday Night Football began at 9:00. It was also such a RIP to have to go to bed at 10 - the game had just started! A lot of the excitement came from the uniqueness of Howard Cosell - he actually had an opinion.... that he'd share! If you want to reminisce about that period of time, Ali, Wide World of Sports, Olympics boxing... you'll enjoy this detailed read of the period... and how ABC Sports really transformed the way sports are shown on TV. BUT... I can't in good conscience recommend the book, because the author just plain does NOT like the man - and this influences his retelling. He'll seemlessly move from praising Cosell to trashing him for being an arrogant jerk. I much prefer the new biography of Steve Jobs - acknowledge the guy's personally loathsome BUT do not try to cheapen the genius, the creativity, etc. Explore how his personality might actually drive some of the greatness. This author just seems petty at times. He seems a tad obsessed that Cosell was Jewish but never really practiced it (like that's a first?). He almost seems to relish Cosell's last few years when he experiences major medical issues, loses his wife, and finally passes away a lonely, bitter man. I much prefer to celebrate the passion Cosell brought to sports - and how he energized its portrayal on TV.

  18. 5 out of 5

    judy

    I loved/hated Howard Cosell. I've missed his grating, obnoxious, arrogant voice enough that I jumped at the chance to read what might be the definitive book on him. Huge mistake. Although the author is a seasoned sports biographer, I found his book largely unreadable. I can only conclude that it's dangerous to spend too much time around Cosell, even if he's dead. I didn't even make it to the 100 page mark. The writing was completely overblown and littered with Cosell-like words that didn't seem I loved/hated Howard Cosell. I've missed his grating, obnoxious, arrogant voice enough that I jumped at the chance to read what might be the definitive book on him. Huge mistake. Although the author is a seasoned sports biographer, I found his book largely unreadable. I can only conclude that it's dangerous to spend too much time around Cosell, even if he's dead. I didn't even make it to the 100 page mark. The writing was completely overblown and littered with Cosell-like words that didn't seem to fit. It was bumpy, jerky, way too unorganized but intent on cramming every detail of Cosell's life down the readers' throat. Hard to believe but the writing completely overshadowed the subject--and I'm not sure that has ever happened to Howard before. The author did quote Frank Deford, the best sportwriter who ever lived. I don't think Deford has tried to do a in-depth portrait of Cosell but I'm certainly going to check. Howard deserved a better eulogy than this.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mickey Mantle

    I found this book spellbinding. Putting it down was difficult. I grew up with Howard Cosell truly being a larger than life TV Sports personality. From his coverage of Muhammad Ali and his firm defense of Ali's stand against the Viet Nam War and his refusal to be inducted in the military, to his becoming an everlasting piece of Americana on Monday Night Football, Cosell did what what he set out to do, re-invent sports journalism. Cosell was going to lead sports journalism to the Television Age, an I found this book spellbinding. Putting it down was difficult. I grew up with Howard Cosell truly being a larger than life TV Sports personality. From his coverage of Muhammad Ali and his firm defense of Ali's stand against the Viet Nam War and his refusal to be inducted in the military, to his becoming an everlasting piece of Americana on Monday Night Football, Cosell did what what he set out to do, re-invent sports journalism. Cosell was going to lead sports journalism to the Television Age, and he did. Problem was he alienated just about everybody along the way. He despised sportswriters, Dick Young in particular. He battled and alienated both bosses and underlings at ABC sports. The author attributes the personality defects to raging insecurity with a healthy dose of alcoholism. It had to be a difficult life for Cosell, who never seemed to be comfortable in his own skin. Never enjoyed his accomplishments, so it would seem. A paranoid.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rodney

    While this book appears to have been researched and presented with a great deal of scholarly effort, it does not add anything new to the story of Mr Cosell. It turned into a ver long slog to complete and hammered the point of Mr Cosell was bombastic because of his personal and religious insecurities. Again, this has been theorized ever since Mr Cosell come on the scene. In my opinion, the only new ground that can be covered when studying Cosell is to look into how he viewed the games he was cover While this book appears to have been researched and presented with a great deal of scholarly effort, it does not add anything new to the story of Mr Cosell. It turned into a ver long slog to complete and hammered the point of Mr Cosell was bombastic because of his personal and religious insecurities. Again, this has been theorized ever since Mr Cosell come on the scene. In my opinion, the only new ground that can be covered when studying Cosell is to look into how he viewed the games he was covering. He was ahead of his time on that fact, especially in my opinion the bland boringness of the NFL. A league with incredible viewership but what in reality is just an extreme marketing concept of a bland product. The history is well told with the exception of missing key facts in the Munich Olympic event.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Truly an impressive if overly overstuffed measure of the life of a man whose influence and impact on 20th century popular culture in the toy department of human affairs can not be understated. Ribowsky does a masterful job of highlighting the highs and lows of Cosell, while also framing him indelibly in the context of the times he lived in and helped to shape. Well recommended for readers who wonder about how sports, and sports commentators, have come to so deeply speak for this country, or thos Truly an impressive if overly overstuffed measure of the life of a man whose influence and impact on 20th century popular culture in the toy department of human affairs can not be understated. Ribowsky does a masterful job of highlighting the highs and lows of Cosell, while also framing him indelibly in the context of the times he lived in and helped to shape. Well recommended for readers who wonder about how sports, and sports commentators, have come to so deeply speak for this country, or those who yearn nostalgically for the days when erudition and sesquipedalian commentary had a place on our national airwaves.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I was really disappointed in this book. I felt the bias against Howard Cosell was very apparent. More time was spent telling what a terrible guy Howard was, then telling about Howard. There were several facts I ran across that were incorrect, that made me question how truthful the book was. They were silly facts (Reference to USFL losing lawsuit to NFL. They actually won the lawsuit, but were only awarded $1. Reference to Mad Men being on HBO, when it is actually on AMC) not relevant to the stor I was really disappointed in this book. I felt the bias against Howard Cosell was very apparent. More time was spent telling what a terrible guy Howard was, then telling about Howard. There were several facts I ran across that were incorrect, that made me question how truthful the book was. They were silly facts (Reference to USFL losing lawsuit to NFL. They actually won the lawsuit, but were only awarded $1. Reference to Mad Men being on HBO, when it is actually on AMC) not relevant to the story, but made me question other facts that had been referenced. I cannot recommend this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Goatville9

    Given my age I realize I only personally saw the late career Cosell who was a caricature of himself. I give Cosell credit, who is bored being a middle aged lawyer, for somehow working into a show biz star. One also has to be critical of his many personal flaws. The author wrote an excellent book but the three star reflects more how I wanted the book to end because I the ugliness of Cosell's last years. Given my age I realize I only personally saw the late career Cosell who was a caricature of himself. I give Cosell credit, who is bored being a middle aged lawyer, for somehow working into a show biz star. One also has to be critical of his many personal flaws. The author wrote an excellent book but the three star reflects more how I wanted the book to end because I the ugliness of Cosell's last years.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dale Stonehouse

    As the author said, this was a book that needed to be written. From Muhammad Ali to Dandy Don Meredith, all of Cosell's famous moments are here, but I found the pace to be rather slow, and the events seemed bigger when they happened than they are in retrospect. Personally I liked him best in Woody Allen's movie Bananas, in which he played himself - and did a great job. As the author said, this was a book that needed to be written. From Muhammad Ali to Dandy Don Meredith, all of Cosell's famous moments are here, but I found the pace to be rather slow, and the events seemed bigger when they happened than they are in retrospect. Personally I liked him best in Woody Allen's movie Bananas, in which he played himself - and did a great job.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Stetz

    Cosell had a way with words.....Oh and he used to drink straight Vodkas, no mixers, during Monday Night Football broadcasts. Had quit the ego too.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Interesting and well-researched bio on the unique love him or hate him 'talking head' of ABC Sports. Interesting and well-researched bio on the unique love him or hate him 'talking head' of ABC Sports.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    A comprehensive, impressively sourced account of a fascinating figure who transcended sports, even though he "never played the game." A comprehensive, impressively sourced account of a fascinating figure who transcended sports, even though he "never played the game."

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Good Book-We need a Howard Cosell today. Can you imagine what he would say about "The lowly state of Professional Football with bounties being offered to ruin a competitors career" Go Howard Good Book-We need a Howard Cosell today. Can you imagine what he would say about "The lowly state of Professional Football with bounties being offered to ruin a competitors career" Go Howard

  29. 5 out of 5

    John

    I enjoyed Ribowsky's take on Cosell....yeah, he was pompous ass, but he was really good at what he did and does not get enough credit for all the great things he did for sportscasting. I enjoyed Ribowsky's take on Cosell....yeah, he was pompous ass, but he was really good at what he did and does not get enough credit for all the great things he did for sportscasting.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rick

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