To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever
A Thoroughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of
By Will Blythe
(HarperCollins, Hardcover, 9780060740238, 368pp.)
Publication Date: March 2006
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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"It is a basketball rivalry that simply has no equal. Duke vs. North Carolina is Ali vs. Frazier, the Giants vs. the Dodgers, the Red Sox vs. the Yankees. Hell, it's bigger than that. This is the Democrats vs. the Republicans, the Yankees vs. the Confederates, capitalism vs. communism. All right, okay, the Life Force vs. the Death Instinct, Eros vs. Thanatos. Is that big enough?"
The basketball rivalry between Duke and North Carolina is the fiercest blood feud in college athletics. To legions of otherwise reasonable adults, it is a conflict that surpasses sports; it is locals against outsiders, elitists against populists, even good against evil. It is thousands of grown men and women with jobs and families screaming themselves hoarse at eighteen-year-old basketball geniuses, trading conspiracy theories in online chat rooms, and weeping like babies when their teams -- when they -- lose. In North Carolina, where both schools are located, the rivalry may be a way of aligning oneself with larger philosophic ideals -- of choosing teams in life -- a tradition of partisanship that reveals the pleasures and even the necessity of hatred.
What makes people invest their identities in what is elsewhere seen as "just a game"? What made North Carolina senator John Edwards risk alienating voters by telling a reporter, "I hate Duke basketball"? What makes people care so much?
The answers have a lot to do with class and culture in the South, and author Will Blythe expands a history of an epic grudge into an examination of family, loyalty, privilege, and Southern manners. As the season unfolds, Blythe, the former longtime literary editor of Esquire and a lifelong Tar Heels fan, immerses himself in the lives of the two teams, eavesdropping on practice sessions, hanging with players, observing the arcane rituals of fans, and struggling to establish some basic human kinship with Duke's players and proponents. With Blythe's access to the coaches, the stars, and the bit players, the book is both a chronicle of personal obsession and a picaresque record of social history.
"Not since Exley's A Fan's Notes has anyone produced such a graceful and elegiac evocation of place, family, and sport".
-Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead
"Blythe seduces with his story of Southern identity...passed down from fathers to their roaming sons...raucous, tender, and fierce."
-Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, author of "Random Family"
Blythe writes like a wizard ... Even if college basketball isn't your obsession, you'll get caught up in this.
Goes far beyond the facile John Feinstein "inside a season" formula ... [Blythe] writes amusingly, self-deprecatingly and often beautifully.
-New York Times Book Review
You don't have to be a Tar Heel or Blue Devil to like [THLT], because it's funny, perceptive, and smart.
-Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
Blythe makes you want to scream from the sidelines... while his hate is contagious, the obvious affection behind it remains.
-New York Post
The best book about loving a team since "A Fan's Notes" ... [a book] about a lot more than basketball.
-Greensboro News & Record
Hilarious and remarkably wise ... you don't want to say too much about [this book], for fear of spoiling the surprises.
"A revelation.... an elegant testament to the way pastimes are far more than ways to pass the time."
-Publishers Weekly (signature review)
Blythe brings great wit, style, and insight... a long-awaited American answer to Fever Pitch.
"The kind of sportswriting that comes along so rarely you can count the classics on one hand . . . read this book."
-Play (New York Times Magazine sports supplement)
An exceptionally entertaining parable in defense of good, healthy, all-American loathing.... an animosity the whole family can share.
-New York Post
"The best book on basketball I have ever read ... destined to become a classic of sports literature."
The best book about politics Ive read since All the Kings Men ... it's about basketball [like] Moby Dick is about whaling.