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Manute: The Center of Two Worlds

Manute: The Center of Two Worlds

by Leigh Montville

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The two worlds of Manute Bol are thoroughly disparate. A Dinka tribesman from the southern Sudan, he was signed to play basketball by the Philadelphia 76ers purportedly only because he is 77 tall. The culture he left behind is primitive and patriarchal, with members' wealth based largely on ownership of cows and without a written language, a society that the Muslim-controlled Sudanese government is bent on destroying. His new world is one of huge salaries, jet travel and luxurious hotels. Montville, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated , shows how Bol is able to fit into both worlds simply by being himself, although he argues that Bol has not had the success he might have because no coach has made the effort to improve his play. This is a most unusual sports biography. Photos not seen by PW. (Feb.)
Library Journal
When asked why he was writing a book about Manute Bol, a basketball player who plays sparingly, Montville replied that Bol is ``the native from The Gods Must Be Crazy , except he is holding a basketball instead of a coke bottle.'' Bol is no star, but his story is fascinating. A 7 7 Dinka tribesman, Bol never heard of America or basketball until 1979. Montville follows Bol from his early years in Africa to his life in the United States, which included stops in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he attended college; Washington, D.C.; Oakland; and Philadelphia, where he played professional basketball. This book is not concerned with exciting games or record-shattering heroics; it concerns the striking differences in the life of this unusual athlete. For all serious sports collections.-- Jeffrey Gay, Bridgewater P.L., Mass.
Wes Lukowsky
It's been a very long time since the appearance of a sports biography the high caliber of this one. David Falkner's study of Japanese baseball star Sadaharu Oh comes to mind, as does Thomas Hauser's definitive Muhammad Ali biography. Ultimately the quality of any biography turns on the complexity and inherent interest of the subject; no biographer can create interest in Joe Bland; likewise, a hack writer is capable of transforming Michael Jordan into the aforementioned Mr. Bland. Montville's subject is Manute Bol, the seven-foot, seven-inch Sudanese giant who currently plays professional basketball for the Philadelphia 76ers A senior writer for "Sports Illustrated", Montville masterfully re-creates the cultural shock Bol experienced when he came to the U.S. in the early 1980s. For example, not only did Bol not read, the entire concept was literally foreign to him; his tribe's language exists only in spoken form. Bol arrived here via the basketball underground: a genuinely Dickensian array of con men with hearts of gold and dreams of a seven-seven piggyback ride to the big time. (There was a coach who knew a coach who knew a guy who was in Africa and saw this really big guy . . .) Shining through this incredible saga is Bol himself, a man whose grace, wit, and universal likability are equal to his physical stature.

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Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
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