three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
26-Jan-Feb-2007
user_rating: 
0

Evolution of a Game

A-The Blind SideYoung Michael Oher could have ended up just another giant among boys—or worse. From the wrong side of the ghetto, Oher, a rare physical specimen at 6’ 6" tall and over 300 pounds of lightning-quick bulk, was precariously adrift until a wealthy, white, Republican Memphis family took him from the streets and into their protection. Now he’s a star left tackle on the Ole Miss football squad, with pro scouts eager to pay him millions. The strategic reasons why left tackles now command the second largest NFL salaries (behind the quarterbacks they protect) are Lewis’s concerns here. From hard luck to hard hits, from X’s and O’s to dollars and cents, this book explores the modern game of football from every angle.
Norton. 288 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 039306123X

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"There is a lot about Michael Oher’s past that the Tuohys don’t know, can’t know, and Lewis beautifully captures how Oher seems to secret those pains in his massive bulk. One day, soon, that protective armor will make Michael Oher a very rich man." John Freeman

San Jose Mercury News 4 of 5 Stars
"If you love football, you’ll find the X’s and O’s discussions enthralling. If you love a good tale, you’ll keep turning pages to find out more about the mystery of Oher’s past and what has become of him." Mark Emmons

Contra Costa Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"At first glance, this book seems unfortunately designed to remain at the level of melodrama. … But that structure allows us to experience Oher’s arrival as we almost certainly would have experienced it in real life." Rick Jurgens

Los Angeles Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"I have no doubt that this book will become another Lewis bestseller. It will play to the masses as an inspiring underdog saga, spiced with proper pieties about the power of hope and individual destiny. It should also stand as an inadvertent testament to the national blind spot that still prevails when it comes to our racial pathologies." Steve Almond

Oregonian 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The Blind Side juxtaposes the story of football’s Big Band change and how Oher, against seemingly incredible odds, became intertwined with it to the point that in the near future he will likely become one of the highest-paid players in professional football." Matt Love

New York Times 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Parts of this book feel like prefabricated movie moments, even if they accurately represent the facts. It’s not that Mr. Lewis is maudlin or unoriginal; it’s just that he prefers buoyant details to the bleak ones that are implicit here." Janet Maslin

Critical Summary

As in Moneyball ( 4 of 5 Stars July/Aug 2003), which chronicled the strategies behind the Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, Berkeley-based author Michael Lewis takes a personal look at a complicated game in his newest nonfiction extravaganza. Just as they embraced Moneyball, critics eagerly wrap their arms around The Blind Side. It’s much more than a treatise on football; it’s an exploration of the limits of conventional thinking and how strategic changes affect the value of quick-footed behemoths. However, while most reviewers are positive, something holds them back. Maybe Lewis makes it all look too easy. Or perhaps, as The New York Times charges, he takes the easy route through a complicated set of stories. That he makes it easy for his reader to comprehend—and enjoy—is enough for most critics to give Lewis’s latest a rousing cheer.