Sunday, August 29, 2010

GBC Question #5

Here we have the oddest question (so far): A non-fiction book that you actually enjoyed.

I prefer non-fiction so to pick one I actually enjoyed would be pretty much all of them or else I wouldn't keep reading non-fiction. I liked Shannon's answer when she decided to pick a cook book which could be read like a book (as you should be able to do with all good cook books as far as I'm concerned). I thought that was a great idea. (Non-fiction? I'll show you non-fiction!)

I decided to go with Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation by John Carlin. The book gives a comprehensive but quick overview of Mandela's incarceration, the secret meetings which lead up to his release and the end of apartheid before moving on to the problem of uniting a divided country and the decision to use the Springboks, a symbol of the white ruling class to most black South Africans, to do it. I could not put this book down and I ended up finishing it in a weekend. The copy was on loan from a friend and I still debate about buying my own copy so I can loan it out to other people because it's just that awesome.

One of the things I found most incredible about Mr. Carlin's writing was that, despite watching the game in 1995 and knowing full well the outcome, I found myself getting antsy and worried that the Springboks might not pull off a victory. That's a talent that very few writers have. Playing the Enemy would later serve as the basis for the film Invictus which was a decent adaptation of the book even if, in the words of my rugby playing brother, "the rugby looked choreographed." Um, ya think? I also really appreciated that although the book is a look at how rugby was used to unite the nation, it's very accessible for people who know nothing about the sport.

Have you ever read a non-fiction book about a game that had you doubting the outcome?

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