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X Factor: A Quest for Excellence

X Factor: A Quest for Excellence

by George Plimpton

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The first section of this book is as entertaining as anything Plimpton (Out of My League) has written. His loss at horseshoes to then-President George Bush prompted him to prepare for a promised rematch by investigating the X factor, aka the will to win, the killer instinct, etc. He interviewed star athletes and CEOs to find out what ingredients bring success when one is competing against others at least as accomplished as oneself. Plimpton contends that the winning factors include focus, toughness, persistence and a suspension of the intellect. The latter part of the book, in which the author visits Camp David with his son for the return engagement and loses abysmally, turns into an encomium for Bush and his extended family. Plimpton portrays him as a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and an especially considerate individual, and suggests that his defeat in the 1992 presidential election does not diminish Bush as ``an avatar of the X Factor.'' (Mar.)
Library Journal
Plimpton's noted penchant for living out his fantasies on the athletic field (retold in such accounts as Paper Lion, 1966) has led him to reflect on that elusive element that separates winners from losers. Through a series of conversations with prominent athletes, coaches, business executives, and even a former president (much is made of Plimpton's two horseshoe matches with George Bush), he attempts to pinpoint the ingredient that enables them to overcome their competitors. Not unexpectedly, it turns out to be a combination of qualities (confidence, concentration, maturity, sense of purpose, and more) rather than any single factor. In the main, this work is of ephemeral interest and can be considered an optional purchase for popular collections. Indeed, the book will likely be of more interest to fans of fine prose than to sports aficionados. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/94.]-William H. Hoffman, Ft. Myers-Lee Cty. P.L., Fla.

Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.52(d)

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
March 18, 1927
Date of Death:
September 25, 2003
Place of Birth:
New York, NY
Place of Death:
New York, NY
B.A. in English Literature, Harvard University, 1950; Master's degree, Cambridge University, 1952

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