Bookmarks Issue: 

Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy: Inside the Mind of a Manager

A-ThreeNightsAugustWhat’s next for Buzz—bowling? Bissinger, well-known for his raw take on high-school football in Friday Night Lights, tackles baseball in his latest work of non-fiction. By peeking inside the mind of famed St. Louis Cardinal manager Tony La Russa, Bissinger investigates the lives and decisions of a general manager and his team. The book focuses on a three-game series between the Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs in 2003, using inning by inning analysis as a springboard for other topics. In its entirety, this book offers an entertaining look at what really happens behind the scenes of Major League baseball.
Houghton Mifflin. 304 pages. $25.
ISBN: 0618405445

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Buzz Bissinger, investigative journalist extraordinaire, cracks the stereotypes with Three Nights in August. Bissinger has produced an excellent account of major-league baseball—in part because he is such a keen observer, because he is such a fine stylist … but most of all, it is because the book is brilliantly conceived." Steve Weinberg

Plain Dealer 3 of 5 Stars
"The writing is smooth and thankfully devoid of the poeticisms that baseball seems to bring out in lesser writers." James F. Sweeney

San Francisco Chronicle 3 of 5 Stars
"Bissinger’s hagiography of [La Russa] is generally fine company—a little heavy on the ‘exquisite poetry of the grass’ stuff for some tastes, but rarely less than an education for all but the hardcore fan. … He writes as if he has a random word generator in his head, which spits out perfect left-field metaphors and Yogi-worthy malapropisms with equal ease." David Kipen

USA Today 3 of 5 Stars
"The book is an intimate and revealing look at one of baseball’s best minds at work during a crucial three-game series. ... Bissinger is a fine writer but occasionally overreaches, the literary equivalent of swinging for the fences." Bob Minzesheimer

Oregonian 2.5 of 5 Stars
"This is, in the end, a sports book appealing primarily to sports fans. In Bissinger’s hands, though, it turns out to be a surprisingly interesting piece of that larger cultural puzzle."
Scott Bernard Nelson

San Antonio Exp-News 1 of 5 Stars
"When the pages aren’t laden with jargon, there are arcane bits of information that seem to do little but prove Bissinger was able to talk to LaRussa all the time." David King

Critical Summary

Bissinger strikes out with only a few critics in Three Nights. With a knack for detail, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author picks apart the fundamentals of the game, enters the mind of one of baseball’s greats, and provides the reader with a front row seat. His ability to bring to life America’s pastime is wholly provocative and excruciatingly detailed. A few critics, however, questioned Bissinger’s insider expertise and near omission of the controversy over steroids (LaRussa managed Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire); others faulted his extravagant writing. If you’re not a true baseball fan, Three Nights may seem ho-hum; for those obsessed with America’s traditional pastime, Three Nights is a winner.