A Terrible Splendor: Three Extraordinary Men, a World Poised for War, and the Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played

A Terrible Splendor: Three Extraordinary Men, a World Poised for War, and the Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played

by Marshall Jon Fisher


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307393951
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 04/20/2010
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 277,667
Product dimensions: 5.28(w) x 8.04(h) x 0.76(d)

About the Author

MARSHALL JON FISHER’s work has appeared in The Atlantic, Harper’s, and other magazines. His essay "Memoria ex Machina" was featured in Best American Essays 2003. He has written several books with his father, David E. Fisher, including Tube: The Invention of Television. Marshall lives in the Berkshires with his wife

From the Hardcover edition.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xiii

First Set The Gentleman of Wimbledon 1

Second Set Appeasement 37

Third Set An American Twist 95

Fourth Set "I'm Playing for My Life" 153

Fifth Set No Man Living or Dead 189

Aftermatch Miracles of Redemption 225

Acknowledgments 269

Notes 272

Index 313

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A Terrible Splendor: Three Extraordinary Men, a World Poised for War, and the Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
capejohn More than 1 year ago
The reader is transformed to the world of tennis and politics in the 1930's. They will get to know the stars of the tennis world they may never had heard of (von Cramm, Budge) and some they know (A 19 year old Bobby Riggs). Although the homosexual tendencies of the players gets mentioned, it's very minimal, but necessary, to show how those in power put their morals in the draw as long as they can draw benefits. One doesn't have to be a fan of the game of tennis to begin this book, but there is a very high probability that they will be in the gallery rooting for his favorite while reading. I give this book my highest recommendation. Very well done.
EDJ More than 1 year ago
This book receives a 5 star due to the writer's excellent layout of this epic match and the political environment of the 30's. The writer builds each of the tennis icons and gives the reader insight into the U.S., Britain, and Germany. He does and excellent unbiased biography of a gay man and presents to the reader a Gottfried Von Cramm as a a great tennis champion he was. This book should be in the library of any tennis or sports enthusiast.
patrickgarson on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Marshall Jon Fisher has written a thrilling book about a tennis match that happened over seventy years ago. But it's not really about a tennis match. Fisher turns the court into a stage for the drama of a world tipping into war, repressed desires, and steely ambition.Wimbledon. 1937. Everyone knows the Davis Cup semi-final between the US and Germany will decide the ultimate winner. The rubber comes down to the last match: up-and-comer Don Budge, and the regal Baron Gottfried Von Cramm. And sitting in the stands - coaching the German team - is American tennis legend Bill Tilden.This summary makes A Terrible Splendor look like almost any other kind of "sport book", but it fails to capture the verve that Fisher brings to the genre. More importantly, it wholly fails to illustrate the detail that he lovingly applies to this story like so many layers of varnish. It gives the match a depth and lustre, and transform the book into a gleaming treasure. Fisher brings an almost mythic element to the battle. He highlights the titanic ability of the players in an era where a few savants could have careers spanning twenty competitive years - or in Tilden's astonishing case, forty. But he also reveals the true stakes, especially for Cramm who was a staunch opponent of the Nazis. In doing so, he paints a compelling picture of pre-war Germany, and pre-war Europe more broadly. The research here is really thorough and all the more tragic knowing how the freedoms of prosperous Wiemar Germany would so quickly be overshadowed by the the most vicious of regimes. Without disrupting the flow of book or the match, Fisher resists leveraging the Nazis to inject some drama into his story. He makes the link between Cramm, the match, and the broader theatre of Europe plausible, clear, and urgent. The remaining theme of A Terrible Splendor is homosexuality, as typified in the tragic, genius, life of Bill Tilden - the first, and perhaps greatest tennis star of all time. Though the bigotry of the era should be no surprise to anyone, again Fisher makes it feel immediate, intimate - and shameful. He exhibits a real gift in A Terrible Splendor, of taking history, out of history, as it were. Making it demand your attention, and giving it a context that will leave you astonished, angry, exuberant and despondent. The true measure of a historian. An excellent book.
writemoves on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Maybe should be retitled "The Greatest Story behind a Tennis Match Ever Played." Very interesting story and history (pre-World War II) around a Davis Cup match between the United States and Germany.
arianr on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This was a surprisingly good read. On one level, this is just a recounting of what may have been the greatest Davis Cup tennis match ever played. And since the match between Don Budge and Baron Gottfried von Cramm was full of drama, the book may have been great if it only stuck to the facts of the match. However, Fisher does much more. He includes a very readable history of the rise of the Nazi party in pre-war Germany and the impact their ever increasing persecution of the gay community. At first glance, it may not be apparent that these stories can be told together. However, Fisher deftly pulls it off and I found the book hard to put down.
alowe More than 1 year ago
a terrible splendor is a beautifully written book about a relatively obscure event occuring during a turbulent and horrific time. as others have written the book has less to do with tennis & more to do with the character of people during the davis cup matches of 1936. the book is a rewarding and worthwhile if read just for the writing, however tennis fans will find it a fascinating look at tennis from an era rarely seen
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