Mike Sager has made a career “finding the quotidian within the extreme, the tender amid the grotesque,” according to award-winning author and popular Columbia Journalism School professor Sam Freedman.
A Boy and His Dog in Hell collects 19 stories that Sager—a best-selling author and veteran of the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, and Esquire—calls “my milestones, pieces that have defined and distinguished my work over forty-some years of journalism—adventures, high jinks, near-death moments, and wrenching intimate encounters that have helped to shape me as a writer and as a man.”
With Sager on point, the reader is taken on a journey through an America few people ever see, safe as they are within the borders of their own colorful squares in the patchwork quilt of diverse cultures, communities, and circumstances that make our nation.
We meet: A pair of middle-school-age dropouts, brothers, living in the ruins of Northern Philadelphia, working shifts on the corner selling cocaine and spending their free time fighting stolen pit bulldogs to the death. The members of a once-proud street gang who’ve lost their fortunes in a cloud of crack smoke. Seven-foot-six-inch Manute Bol was a Sudanese-born basketball player—the first time he attempted a dunk, he broke his front teeth on the rim. He went on to become one of the greatest shot-blockers in the history of the National Basketball Association.
We spend time with blue-collar tweakers in Hawaii; Aryan Nation troopers in Idaho; and near-fatally hip heroin addicts on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. We meet the Reverend Al Sharpton at a time, early in his career, when this important civil rights figure was vilified and feared by many people of all races. A road trip across the country brings Sager eyeball to eyeball with a number of America’s smartest men (and one woman). Life, it turns out, can be just as challenging on either end of the bell curve.
We attend the “Superbowl of Rodeo” with the world’s winningest professional cowboy, a deep dive into red-state values and the American Western Ideal. We meet Charlie Van Dyke, 650 pounds, a fat man in a no-fat world, and Bill Hicks, a comedic genius destined for mainstream stardom until tragedy struck. And we spend seven days with NBA lightning rod Kobe Bryant, who lifted the craft of basketball into compelling art . . . and so beautifully made the tricky transition to next chapter . . . before leaving the earth suddenly and too soon.
Also included: six feature stories written during Sager’s early years at the Washington Post, where he began his career as a copy boy in 1978. He has completed paid journalism assignments in each of the last six decades.
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About the Author
Mike Sager is a best-selling author and award-winning reporter. A former Washington Post staff writer under Watergate investigator Bob Woodward, he worked closely, during his years as a contributing editor to Rolling Stone, with gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Sager is the author of more than a dozen books, including anthologies, novels, e-singles, a biography, and university textbooks. He has served for more than three decades as a writer for Esquire. In 2010 he won the National Magazine Award for profile writing. Several of his stories have inspired films and documentaries, including Boogie Nights, with Mark Wahlberg, Wonderland with Val Kilmer and Lisa Kudrow, and Veronica Guerin, with Cate Blanchette. He is the founder and CEO of The Sager Group LLC, which publishes books, makes films and videos, and provides modest grants to creatives. For more information, please see www.mikesager.com. [Show Less]
Table of Contents
Foreword by Alex Belth
The King of the Cowboys-Trevor Brazile has won more professional rodeo championships, 23, than any other cowboy in history
A Boy and His Dog in Hell-Two middle-school dropouts fight Pitbulls to the death in the Philadelphia slums.
Big-Charlie Van Dyke is six-foot-three, 650 pounds, a fat man in a low fat world.
The Smartest Man in America-Welcome to the HiQ Nation, where smartest, it turns out, isn't necessarily best.
A Journey to the Heart of Whiteness-Looking at White Supremacy with the Aryan Nations in Idaho.
Kobe Bryant Doesn't Want Your Love-Eight days with up close with KB24, Black Mamba, and his Mamacita, Lady V. With a follow-up written after his tragic death.
Generation H-Near-fatally hip heroin addicts on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
The Gospel According to Bill Hicks-The best known unknown comic in the business, he was destined for stardom, until tragedy struck.
Thailand's Home for Wayward Vets- After fighting in Vietnam, these American vets put down stakes in a place they thought would be better than home.
The Sharpton Strategy-At home and on the road with the Reverend Al Sharpton before he ran for U.S. President and became a mainstream chat show host.
The Ice Age-A report from Hawaii on the ravages of crystal meth.
Dunkin' Donuts with Manute Bol-The first time he tried to dunk, he broke a few teeth on the rim. He became the all-time NBA leader in blocked shots.
Death in Venice- Six weeks embedded with the V-13, aka The Venice Gang, at the height of the crack epidemic.
Retrospective: A few early stories from the Washington Post, 1980-83
The Forgotten at Forest Haven-Spending time inside Washington, DC's live-in facility for severely disabled children and adults.
The Hausslings: All in the Family-Spending time with a family with seven adopted sons, all with special needs, all under 13 years old.
Farmers Harvest Fruit of Bountiful Summer-Ninety miles west of Washington, D.C., at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, fall has come to a family farm in Culpeper, Virginia.
The Hunt: Special Bond for Father, Son-For this father and son hunting is not just about killing Bambi. It's about love, kinship and being together in the great outdoors.
Eagle at Sea-Three weeks at sea on the USCGC Eagle, a 295-foot sailing barque used as a training ship for future officers of the United States Coast Guard.
Potter's Field: Fairfax County's Dreary Graveyard for the Destitute, Adrift or Anonymous-Finding the backs stories of the anonymous dead from bygone days.
Also by Mike Sager
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