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Buzz Bissinger Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Friday Night Lights (As: H.G. Bissinger) (1988)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Prayer for the City (1997)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Three Nights in August (2005)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
LeBron's Dream Team (2010)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Father's Day (2012)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
After Friday Night Lights (2012)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Classic Mantle (2012)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Mosquito Bowl (2022)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Anthologies

The Best American Sports Writing 2003(2003)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Fathers & Sons & Sports(2008)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Buzz Bissinger is one of America’s honored and distinguished authors. He is the winner of the Livingston Award, Pulitzer Price, the National Headliners Award, and the American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award, among others. He is the author of famously acclaimed non-fiction books: A Pray for the City, Friday Night Lights, Father’s Day, Three Nights in August, and Shooting Stars.

Bissinger has also worked as a reporter for some of the world’s prestigious newspapers and as a magazine writer worked with the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Sports Illustrated. He has been a co-producer, and a writer for the NYPD Blue television drama aired on ABC. Two of Bissinger’s books were made into movies: Shattered Glass and Friday Night Lights, with more still developing.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1976, Bissinger began a journalism career at the Ledger Star in Norfolk. He switched to The St. Paul Pioneer Press. He later settled at The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he and two of his colleagues won a Pulitzer Prize after documenting a six-part investigative series on the court system.

Bissinger quit his job at the Inquirer in 1988 and moved to Odessa, Texas, where he began writing his book the Friday Night Lights. The book sold two million copies prompting the writer to publish a follow-up eBook dubbed After the Friday Night Lights in 2012. From 1990-1992, Bissinger worked as an investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune and later returned to Philadelphia to write A Prayer for the City book, which garnered positive criticism nationwide and was referred to as a classic on politics.

Three Nights in August recounts a Cardinals-Cubs series that unfolded at the close of the 2003 baseball season. The book also details La Russa’s time with Tom Seaver White Sox, Carlton Fisk, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, and Rickey Henderson Oakland A’s. The story also touches on La Russa’s past seasons’ matches with the Cardinals, particularly the 2002 season, devastated by the death of great pitcher and beloved colleague Darryl Kile in the middle of the season. In the middle of the 2000s, Albert Pujols created a potent trifecta alongside Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds.

While Cardinals fans will love this book the most, any baseball fan or reader of Bissinger’s prior works, like Friday Night Lights, will find some value.

One of Bissinger’s topics is that baseball is all about humans, including things within a player’s heart and head that sabermetrics cannot quantify. Tony LaRussa, the Cardinals manager at the time, had to contend with the human aspect of his players’ personalities to elicit their best performance.

American athletes’ role during the Second World War has been well documented throughout history. The experiences of famous people like Bob Feller, Ted Williams, Tom Landry, Hank Greenberg, Ed Lumus, and many others have been recognized for defeating Japan and Germany. Bissinger’s book, The Mosquito Bowl, tells the events that led to a game between the 4th and 29th Marine Regiments in late 1944 and the fate of the many soldiers who fought the Saipan, Tarawa, and Okinawa battles. The soldiers comprised former All-Americans from Notre Dame, Brown, and Wisconsin universities, twenty of whom were enlisted in the National Football League. Unfortunately, fifteen of the sixty-five men who participated in the game would perish a few months later in the battle of Okinawa.

Bissinger brings the troops and their combat training in preparation for the Marine invasion of Okinawa to life. During their preparations, the level of trash talk between the two Regiments escalated to a boiling point resulting in what has been dubbed “the Mosquito Bowl.” The story of Bissinger looks into the lives of these gallant men with clarity, compassion, and a realistic view of what they experienced and what they would soon face. It is a well-told tale about collegiate athletes losing their innocence. It begins on the playing fields of American universities and continues through their final days as lads until the darkest days of Okinawa.

The book’s narrative is a contradiction. Bissinger focuses first and principally on the lives of individuals who evolved from great athletes into American Marines. Bissinger concentrates on the lives of John Marshall McLaughey, who played for the New York Giants for one season and promptly volunteered in the military following Pearl Harbor. David Schreiner, a former All-American football player at the University of Wisconsin, joined as an officer cadet with the Marines. Tony Butkovich came from a family of eleven and was an All-American at the University of Illinois and subsequently at Purdue University before being picked by the Cleveland Rams with the first overall pick. Butkovich could not meet the requirements to become a Marine officer, so he joined the infantry as a corporal. Bob Bauman was Butkovich’s Wisconsin teammate, while his brother Frank played at Illinois; both brothers joined the Marines. Bob McGowan, a Sergeant and Squad Leader from western Pennsylvania, was seriously injured on Okinawa, and his account gives the reader a sense of the dread and brutality of war. George Murphy, captain of the Notre Dame football team, would join the others as an officer candidate in the Marines.

Apart from combat and sports, racism is the primary issue, as Bissinger examines how blacks were mistreated in the military. The United States fought for autonomy in Europe — and the Pacific, but there was no emancipation for the 13 million Blacks living in the USA of America due to the prevalence of lynchings and murders in the South. At the beginning of the conflict, no African Americans were in theMarines.

The military leadership utilized college football stars as a recruitment tool and emphasized the ideals and skills that college football and the military shared. Families of soldiers serving in Europe and the Pacific were angered by exclusions for college athletes from the draft, as many of the same age enjoyed the life of a great athlete.

Bissinger examines the “flame thrower” as an additional significant weapon. On Okinawa and other islands, the Japanese utilized caverns with interconnected tunnels, a formidable obstacle to surmount. The caverns were difficult to enter with bombs; thus, flame throwers equipped with napalm were required. Despite using this weapon, which saved many American lives, the Japanese inflicted countless fatalities on the Americans as they fought from hill to hill.

The Mosquito Bowl was a lively, semi-organized football game played in Guadalcanal that serves as the novel’s central focus. The game, played on Christmas Eve, 1944, in front of at least 1,500 Marines, serves as both a pretext and organizational concept for the novel, but its significance diminishes as Bissinger investigates the destinies of numerous players. Constantly present are combat and other filthy facets of warfare. The combat on Tarawa, Saipan, and Okinawa, as well as the experiences of those who never went home, demonstrate the lunacy of war, which tragically continues to dominate our news cycle.

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