The Courts of Babylon: Dispatches from the Golden Age of Tennis (Audio Download): Peter Bodo, Welland Scripps, Audible Studios: Audible Audiobooks Audible –

Peter Bodo s book is good enough purely on his chapter of Wimbledon alone Overall it is a golden volume on the Golden Age of Tennis Peter has covered tennis since the dawn of the Open era as the chief writer for Tennis magazine, and all of the really great legends of the sport are here including Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, Evonne Goolangong, Tracy Austin, and Martina Navratilova Buy it today for an absolute steal, and read it at your leisure simply the best. I haven t finished it yet but it s captivated me since I started reading it Gives a whole lot of colour to the tours. This book is an excellent read for those of a certain age who remember tennis stars from the 80 s and 90 s The author obviously has a detailed knowledge of tennis from that era and offers an in depth commentary of the time obtained from personal recollections and friendships with the players. Bodo gives a realistic view of the culture and history of the Tennis Tour He seems to have good relationships with many of the players and reveal insights into their thinking and the type of characters they are. It is hard to remember just what a freak show professional tennis was in the 1970 s and into the 80 s The original bad boy of tennis Ilie Nastase would spit at his opponents A former man wanted to play as a woman Jimmy Conners firing tennis balls next to lines people he disagreed with.And this book documents it all all the major players and many of the ones who had their moment in the sun and slipped away into relative obscurity The train wreck that Martina Navratilova put herself through with all her different partners The real humanity beneath the Ice Queen media image of Chris Evert The money train that Bjorn Borg simply walked away from after finally losing Wimbledon.I certainly enjoyed going back over so much of this history that has faded into the mists of time as today s tennis tour presents it s very professional and controlled stars today. This is the best book on this subject The depth of the sociological analysis of the Open era is unprecedented The strength of this book is due to Bodo s back and forth dual approach In one chapter, he will paint a broad and often scathing analytical brush on one aspect of the Open era He may even focus on the change in character of one Gran Slam tournament Wimbledon, U.S Open But, the very next chapter he will likely focus on one single star and essentially write a biography about them based on his multitude of interviews he had with most of them.Prior to the Open era, Bodo explains how tennis stood for sportsmanship, ethics, and educated well rounded personalities catering to a sophisticated public As a case in point, he mentions the many members of the Australian dynasty in the 50s, 60s, and early 70s who were all models of sportsmanship, and humility They also did well in their tennis after life These included legendary names like Laver, Rosewall, Emerson, and Newcomb among many others On the American side, you had a series of college educated players with mature personalities, including Dennis Ralston, Arthur Ashe, Charlie Pasarell, Stan Smith, and Bob Lutz Some of them crossed over the Open era But, they came from an old guard when tennis and its stars stood for something different than after the Open era.The Open era officially started in 1968 But, per Bodo it kicked into gear in 1976 with the advent of Bjorn Borg, and Connors All of a sudden, the game became corrupted by relentless commercialization The money got so huge that it killed sportsmanship, humility, education, and well roundedness The college game disappeared If you are good enough for the pros at 18, forget college All of a sudden tennis is manufactured as a sensational show that is becoming like pro mud wrestling than gentlemanly tennis The stars have become self adulating, spoiled, uneducated, neurotic, unbalanced millionaire teenagers who will do anything to win a match Their conduct is symmetrically opposite to the Australian heroes of yesteryears Laver, Newcomb, etc But, the new stars are considered colorful and good for Nielsen ratings The better adjusted old guard sportsmanship is considered dull and unmarketable Pete Sampras is a case in point He was one of the greatest players of all times He was also among the very few and ultimate sportsman in his era But, instead of being adulated and emulated he was criticized by the public and ignored by the sponsors as being too dull.What is really interesting about the mini biographies Bodo writes about the super stars is how unexpected they are Often, the villains come across so much better once you get to know them better Connors, Lendl, McEnroe, and Seles all come across as much balanced, and interesting than you would expect They seem much likeable than their on court persona Some of their rivalries also make for a fascinating read On the other hand, everyone s good guy Borg is a pathological Greek tragedy Of course Borg was an incredible sportsman much like the Australians were But, he was a monolithic truly dysfunctional character who could not see his place anywhere in the world outside of being number one Out of all former champions, retirement has been most cruel to Borg because he had nothing to fall back on He had no side interest, and no life to speak off outside tennis He made an embarrassing attempt to return to tennis playing with wood racquets in an era of carbon graphite and Teflon He failed miserably loosing to journeymen.Bodo s book stops in the early 90s He acknowledges at the end of the book that the Open era seemed to have turned the corner with a sportsmanlike young emerging generation of American champions Chang, Courier, Agassi, and Sampras The great generation of emerging champions Bodo mentioned all have retired except for Agassi, and as of this writing he may be months from doing so They have been replaced by a group of interesting foreigners who may prove ultimately better for the game as the talent is diversified.Bodo s book even outclasses a series of excellent books on the same subject, including Bad News for McEnroe by Bill Scanlon, and Tennis Confidential by Paul Fein You Can t Be Serious by John McEnroe is in a lesser league because as one can expect it is so much self centered than the others Yet, it is still an excellent and very entertaining book This tells you how much I have appreciated all these books, and Bodo s above all. No sport has gone through the seismic changes that rocked tennis when the game, long a holdout against professionalism and creeping commercialism, abandoned its roots as a genteel, amateurs only enterprise and became a pro sport, vying for the heart of the public with rivals like soccer, NFL football, or NBA basketball Peter Bodo, who has covered tennis since the dawn of this Open era as the chief writer for Tennis magazine, was there to witness this transition and what it promised, what it delivered He has covered the game on every continent since the early s The Courts of Babylon is than a collection of essays, most of them growing out of a deep familiarity and, often, relationship with subjects that include Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert, John McEnroe, Evonne Goolangong, Jimmy Connors, Tracy Austin, Ivan Lendl, and Martina Navratilova It is also a commentary on what was lost and what was gained by the transition to professionalism, and how the new, Open era delivered or failed to make good on the promise that professionalism would make tennis a inclusive, egalitarian, accessible game Relying heavily on formal, in depth interviews conducted over two decades and his status as an insider in an insular game, Bodo s book is both a meditation and expos , a polemic and a tribute to the players who dragged tennis, often kicking and screaming, to the forefront of the public s imagination even when those players got it all too fast and too young Bodo delves into the darkest and most controversial areas of the game, chroniciling the follies of overzealous parents and pampered athletes He fearlessly wades into sensitive issues stemming from sex and gender, politics and commercialism He celebrates the game while holding it to task, all the while acknowledging the reality of the demands and distortions that come with a way of life that is both difficult but glamorous, and eagerly embraced by athletes who, in some cases, are no older than This was a very good book I was a big fan of this era in tennis.Bodo gives some real inside the lines and the locker room stories in thisbook I was pleasantly surprised I like to read before bed for about 30 minutes,and this book was perfect Would be a good book for a plane ride if you areinterested in the material.