10 days and 700+ pages later, I have finished reading James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales' in-depth look at the creation and evolution of, in-my-opinion, the greatest sports company in the world — ESPN. I followed much of the buzz surrounding the book's launch, of which there was a lot (see: Vanity Fair, GQ and WSJ to name a few), and finally spent the $15 to buy ESPN: Those Guys Have All the Fun after listening to Jim Miller's podcast with my favorite ESPN personality, The Sports Guy, Bill Simmons. I can confirm that the book is a must read for any sports fan.
The authors, mostly successfully, use firsthand accounts from a combination of ESPN's most prominent members (past and present) and industry players (think: David Stern, Dick Ebersol, Paul Tagliabue) to detail the company's incredible rise to the top of the sports world. I enjoyed hearing the stories straight from the proverbial horse's mouth, however, I think Miller and Shales could have done a better job segueing in and out of the various topics; on several occasions there was an abrupt end or beginning to a subject, which I found more than a little bit irritating. That said, the book in general was an easy and fast read, with a good sprinkling of humorous anecdotes making the 700 pages fly by. In particular, I found the the chapter detailing ESPN's birth and initial formation as a business to be the most interesting while any parts involving a discussion of the highly-volatile Keith Olbermann to be the most compelling, especially as a dedicated fan of mid-90s SportsCenter. If 700 pages sounds like a lot to bite off in one sitting, I think the nature of the way it's authored makes the book perfect for the intermittent reader too. - K