The Agony of Victory

The Agony of Victory - Steve FriedmanMeet the swiftest and saddest cyclist of his time, a man whose craving for speed was outstripped only by a terrible urge toward self-annihilation. See the greatest bowler who ever lived, a scrawny junior high school drop out and hard-drinking multimillionaire who could never stop trying—and failing—to measure up to his father. Read the tales of these and 12 other ravaged champions and their painful journeys to grace.

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“Friedman tells the stories you never see in the sports pages, tracing the fine line between passion and obsession and delivering brutally touching dispatches from the broken and dark hearts of champions. This book is flat-out fascinating.” — Michael Connelly

“Friedman raises sportswriting to the level of literature.”— Richard Ben Cramer, author of Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life

“Friedman has a terrific ability to find the absurd note amid a swelling crescendo of heroics. The stories in here are mordant, sad, hilarious, and altogether unpredictable. He has written that rare sports book: a book about deeply flawed, highly complicated human beings who happen to have had great success as athletes, mostly both because of, rather than despite, their frailties.” — Eric Konigsberg, author of Blood Relation

“Friedman has the rare ability to write effortless prose that is funny, touching, and…profound.” — Jeff Leen, Investigations Editor, The Washington Post

“With unquestionable passion for his subjects and language that is at once soulful and precise, Friedman does for sports figures what most journalists are either too star-struck or too platitudinous to do: he grants them permission to be their mad, brilliant selves. The Agony of Victory is as much about sports as it is about the intersection between super-human strength and fragile humanity. One needn’t be a sports fan to appreciate it.” — Meghan Daum, author of The Quality of Life Report and My Misspent Youth

“‘It’s Gonna Suck To Be You,’ Friedman’s amazing piece about obsessed Colorado ultramathoners, has lived in my file cabinets for years as an example of inspirationally terrific reporting and writing. That story, and the other haunting portraits in this collection, upend every facile cliche about winners and losers in sports competition—which is why this is so much more than a book about sports. I don’t know where Friedman finds these weird, beautiful, multilayered stories, but the way he unwraps them makes you feel as though he’s just showing you what so many people’s interior worlds really look like. It’s a great read, and an unforgettable one.” — Cynthia Gorney, author of Articles of Faith

“Friedman’s The Agony of Victory is compassionate, eloquent, smart; the portraits read like miniature novels. A marvelous addition to the literature of sport.” — Michael Griffith, author of Spikes

“These are terrific human stories….Only Friedman could punch you in the gut with them like this. Plus, he’s genuinely funny….That alone is worth the cover price, plus tax.” — Scott Dickensheets, Las Vegas Weekly and Las Vegas Life

“Friedman has discovered the human being inside the champion athlete….As he demonstrates so powerfully, the greatest triumphs take place outside the arena. Don’t be fooled: This isn’t a book about sports. It’s about redemption.” — Ken Fuson, Des Moines Register

REVIEWS for The Agony of Victory

“Friedman profiles unheralded champions in (mostly) solitary sports and examines the blurred line between being driven to succeed and being driven mad. It’s the best-written piece of nonfiction I’ve read in at least a year.” — Matt Ufford, Withleather.com

“It’d probably be an overstatement to say the writer Steve Friedman, a former senior editor at GQ and former contributing editor at Esquire, relishes suffering. But he clearly knows something about being tormented and picking himself up and out of the abyss. And that’s imbued throughout his discerning and affecting collection of athlete profiles.” — Florangela Davila, The Seattle Times

INTERVIEWS for The Agony of Victory

Friedman talks with NBA seer Henry Abbott for ESPN’s TrueHoop blog

Friedman talks with Carl Bialik for Gelf Magazine

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