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Open: An Autobiography-Retail $28.95! Sale Only $19.11!

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Open: An Autobiography

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Open: An Autobiography Description:

From Andre Agassi, one of the most beloved athletes in history and one of the most gifted men ever to step onto a tennis court, a beautiful, haunting autobiography.

Agassi’s incredibly rigorous training begins when he is just a child. By the age of thirteen, he is banished to a Florida tennis camp that feels like a prison camp. Lonely, scared, a ninth-grade dropout, he rebels in ways that will soon make him a 1980s icon. He dyes his hair, pierces his ears, dresses like a punk rocker. By the time he turns pro at sixteen, his new look promises to change tennis forever, as does his lightning-fast return.

And yet, despite his raw talent, he struggles early on. We feel his confusion as he loses to the world’s best, his greater confusion as he starts to win. After stumbling in three Grand Slam finals, Agassi shocks the world, and himself, by capturing the 1992 Wimbledon. Overnight he becomes a fan favorite and a media target.

Agassi brings a near-photographic memory to every pivotal match and every relationship. Never before has the inner game of tennis and the outer game of fame been so precisely limned. Alongside vivid portraits of rivals from several generations—Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer—Agassi gives unstinting accounts of his brief time with Barbra Streisand and his doomed marriage to Brooke Shields. He reveals a shattering loss of confidence. And he recounts his spectacular resurrection, a comeback climaxing with his epic run at the 1999 French Open and his march to become the oldest man ever ranked number one.

In clear, taut prose, Agassi evokes his loyal brother, his wise coach, his gentle trainer, all the people who help him regain his balance and find love at last with Stefanie Graf. Inspired by her quiet strength, he fights through crippling pain from a deteriorating spine to remain a dangerous opponent in the twenty-first and final year of his career. Entering his last tournament in 2006, he’s hailed for completing a stunning metamorphosis, from nonconformist to elder statesman, from dropout to education advocate. And still he’s not done. At a U.S. Open for the ages, he makes a courageous last stand, then delivers one of the most stirring farewells ever heard in a sporting arena.

With its breakneck tempo and raw candor, Open will be read and cherished for years. A treat for ardent fans, it will also captivate readers who know nothing about tennis. Like Agassi’s game, it sets a new standard for grace, style, speed, and power.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #528 in Books
  • Published on: 2009-11-09
  • Released on: 2009-11-09
  • Format: Deckle Edge
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 400 pages

Features

Customer Reviews:

This book will change you. In a good way.5
So you’re thinking this might be one of those recently retired famous people books aren’t you? One where a celebrity, or a Politician, or a sports star cranks out hundreds of pages of self-serving, history-correcting drivel in order to cash the big advance check. A book you can’t even bring yourself to finish; better than a tranquilizer at bedtime.

Well, this is certainly not that book. “Open” is a journey that I predict will stay with you for a very long time. It’s a completely unexpected trip to places you’ve never been. I’m not one of those quasi-professional reviewers you see on Amazon. But this book practically made me write about it.

Interestingly, Open starts not at the beginning and not quite at the end. Second round, US Open, 2006.

Not the final match of Andre’s career–but the one right before that.
Against a competitor you’d never heard of before or since.
The battle was against the guy across the net, and also Andre’s hatred of tennis, his failing body, the demons that he harnessed to get through the unending heroic contest that seemed destined to continue until both just fell into a heap on the court. And it is so well told.

After 20 pages, I knew that this was unlike any other biography I had ever read. Couldn’t put it down. Couldn’t stop thinking about it. Agassi dug deeper inside than most of us ever will have to, to get to core of what made him so powerful as a player and so conflicted as a person. It is all conspicuously real: The small moments, the outlandish triumphs and the friendships that sustained him and/or corrupted him. The gauntlet he had to run through to arrive at the balance and joy he has today. It’s transformative.

The headlines about this book have mostly related to Andre’s drug use when he was at his lowest. But honestly, although it marked the place from which he recovered and flourished, it’s only an incidental part of this story. The story is actually about perseverance, intelligence and raw talent all baked together into a very, very large American life.

If Open doesn’t win a Pulitzer Prize, something is terribly wrong. Can I nominate it?

Image Is Everything5
Andre Agassi has written a ‘tell-all’ book about his life in tennis. And, it turns out, he hated tennis. That was a bigger shocker to me than the salacious fact that he was on ‘crystal meth’for a period of time. J.R. Moehringer, the author of ‘A Tender Bar’ and a Pulitzer Prize winner for his writing was a co-author of this autobiography. Andre loved Moehringer’s writing in ‘The Tender Bar’, and he is correct, the man’s writing and the book are excellent. This book, too, is very well written and is an exceptional read.

Andre tells us that he started playing tennis at the age of 3 and by the age of 5 he was showing an aptitude for the game. He was pushed by his father-an obsessive man who pushed his son too far and too much. In fact his father felt that education was not necessary and a hindrance to his tennis practice. Andre could never tell his father how much he hated the game because it was Andre’s responsibility to help his family, and that is what he did. He left school in the ninth grade, something that has bothered him his entire career. His goal was to achieve in tennis. He was enrolled in the Bollettien tennis camp, but it felt more like a prison than a camp. The academy, in Agassi’s words, was “Lord of the Flies with forehands.” In retaliation Andre started wearing earrings, grew his hair long and wore loud clothes. Thus his reputation was born. As his career started to flourish, Andre, tried to keep it all together. He was known as the flamboyant player, the real player. He played the best tennis players in the world, and he was one of the best. He had an eye for the ball, and the ‘tell’ of players when they were about to hit the big one.

Andre Agassi talks about his rivals, the ones who were boring, the ones who kept it all together and the the real players; Pete Sampras, Boris Becker and Jimmy Connors The book is at its best when the game of tennis is being discussed. Each play during the tournaments and how he figured out how to win. He talks of his marriage to Brooke Shields, he never really wanted to be married, just like he never really liked to play tennis. His crystal meth years, the spiel he gave the Tennis Association when he tested positive for drugs. He finally met and married Steffi Graf and found the happiness that had so long eluded him.
He has built a life and a foundation that sponsors a charter school. He gave the first graduation speech and wowed the crowd. A ninth grade drop-out he has achieved success and fame. He has found his life and he has become Open. For anyone who loves tennis, this is a book that will be a fascinating look at the life of a giant in the tennis world and told in words that best describes him. He finally lives down his famous words ‘Image Is Everything’.

Highly Recommended. prisrob 11-09-09

The Tender Bar

Inspiring - Must Read5
We have all read the press and watched the news; the drug allegations, the “I hate tennis”. Tennis fans aren’t quite sure whether they should feel cheated for all the love and support they have given Andre, to me the book set things straight.

Most of us look back at chapters of our lives and can identify with particularly unhappy periods. Andre kicks off the book with what was going through his head with the match against Baghdatis in the 2006 US Open. It is a blow by blow account of key parts of the match and a thought provoking glimpse into the mind and heart of a tennis player. He then goes straight into his childhood, the discomfort and unhappiness of being the child prodigy son of an obsessive father. There are weirdly honest stories - his grandmother tried to breastfeed him, very disturbing but a revelation of a dysfunctional upbringing. What seems to carry Andre through his childhood are friendships with his brother Phil and Perry who later becomes his manager. The importance of the childhood friendships are critical and from the way they are explained it is easy to understand why these friends are crucial figures for Andre.

The critical friendship is that of his mentor/guide/life coach/surrogate father Gill Reyes. Andre is taken under his wing and treated with the love and respect a father should treat his son, you sense through the stories in the book that now they have met each other neither could really exist happily without the other. His marriage with Brooke Shields is dealt with candidly, many will buy this book to find out what celebrities do behind closed doors. Whereas I did think Brooke appeared superficial from some of the things mentioned here, I think it merely shows how fame affects people differently. It appears that fame as a child makes people so perception orientated that perceptions are more important than anything else - who can judge the pressures these guys live through? Perfectly understandable in my opinion.

The drugs issue is dealt with here but only for a few pages in the book. The very weird thing is it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. Like most fans I was shocked and somewhat critical of the damage to his sport. But, I could understand after reading the book how stupid mistakes can be made. Off the book for a second truth is he wouldn’t have got the endorsements for 10’s of millions had he been suspended, or there would have been a clause in his existing deals that he would have broken had the allegations come out. However, reading the book and seeing what has been done with the money I can’t help but feel it was better for everyone that nothing came out at the time.

Andre talks about his attraction to Stefanie from many years back, the courting process is just the same as you or I. We all have been through that ‘has the phone just rung?’ depression when expecting a call from someone we are interested in. It does feel almost story like the way they end up together, but we all have a story like this just not in the press.

Players are mentioned here all the time, the interesting one for me was Becker ‘B.B. Socrates’ they call him because he ‘tries to appear intellectual but is just an overgrown farmboy’, this is going to do nothing for Becker’s ego. The rivalry with Becker seems more important than that with Sampras - who would have thought?

Another of those important times for Andre was a meeting with Mandela, a truly humbling experience for anyone. This times perfectly with the starting of his Charter school and I presume was a defining moment for him.

Overall, hey I got the book yesterday and I read 325 pages the first day this should tell you all you need to know. I felt sorry for Andre with his childhood but towards the end I understood how his father really wanted the best for everyone. Andre is surprisingly influenced by anyone he trusts - guided more by his heart than his head, he appears to live life to please for much of the book which is pretty much the way a child acts. His first marriage is what everyone else wants to see but he is developing on another level through his interactions with his trainer Gil, the goalposts are always changing as he tries understands what he wants from life. His ‘hate’ of tennis develops into an appreciation and respect.

When you read this book you will see parallels between what you go through in life with what a celebrity goes through but you go through it perhaps without the press. It is incredibly well written, so well written in fact that most will not credit Andre for the writing. This is what is says it is, an autobiography not just a tennis manual. Enjoy!

From The Washington Post
From The Washington Post’s Book World/washingtonpost.com Pro tennis could teach the mafia about omertà. Although dozens of champions have chattered away to ghostwriters, their memoirs have generally remained silent about the game’s seamy realities. Presented to the public as clean family fun, an upscale entertainment for the country-club set, top-level tennis is actually played by the physical and emotional mutants of a misery machine that leaves them too ill-educated or psychically damaged to understand what has happened to their lives. Like most victims of abuse, they’d rather not talk about it. So it’s both astonishing and a pleasure to report that Andre Agassi, who was castigated for an ad campaign saying “Image is everything,” has produced an honest, substantive, insightful autobiography. True to the genre of jock hagiography, it has its share of stock footage — total recall of famous matches, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and an upbeat ending. But the bulk of this extraordinary book vividly recounts a lost childhood, a Dickensian adolescence and a chaotic struggle in adulthood to establish an identity that doesn’t depend on alcohol, drugs or the machinations of PR. Agassi was born in Las Vegas to a brutal Iranian immigrant, a former Olympic boxer, who forced his four children to play tennis. As a pre-schooler, Andre began hitting balls on the backyard court for hours every day. School, friends, social life and especially thinking were considered distractions by his father, who terrified the entire family. But while his sisters rebelled and his older brother, Philly, finally lacked the killer instinct, Andre became his father’s obsession and whipping boy — one who was expected to whip other boys and unsuspecting men on court. His father pitted him at age 8 against suckers, including football great Jim Brown, who foolishly bet $500 that he could beat the kid. Before junior tournaments, Mr. Agassi fed his son caffeine-laced pills. Later, he tried to turn Andre on to speed. At the age of 12, Andre traveled to Australia with a team of elite young players. For each tournament he won, he got a beer as a reward. Then in the seventh grade he was shipped off to the Bollettieri Academy in Florida, where his tennis flourished, but his life turned feral. Drinking hard liquor and smoking dope, he wore an earring, eyeliner and a Mohawk. Nobody objected as long as he won matches. The academy, in Agassi’s words, was “Lord of the Flies with forehands.” Since the press and the tennis community still regard Nick Bollettieri as a seer and an innovator whose academy spawned dozens of similar training facilities, Agassi’s critical opinion of him may shock the ill-informed. But in fact, Bollettieri is the paradigmatic tennis coach: that is, a man of no particular aptitude or experience and no training at all to deal with children. With no time and certainly no encouragement to get an education, Andre stopped school in the ninth grade, which is about average on the circuit. With the possible exception of boxers, tennis players have less formal schooling than any other pro athletes. In addition to blighting their lives and leaving them vulnerable to agents and hangers-on, this severely limits their options. Again and again, Agassi laments that he hated tennis from the start — he claims he hates it still — but felt he had no alternative and no talent to do anything else except turn pro at 16. Judging by the record books and his tax returns, this decision seemed to make sense; Agassi went on to win eight Grand Slam titles and tens of millions of dollars. But the personal cost, as he makes clear, was catastrophic. With no idea who he was, he found himself defined by publicity campaigns and articles by sportswriters who couldn’t have guessed what he was actually up to and probably wouldn’t have reported it even if they had. Lonely and depressed, he drank a lot, just as he’d been doing since adolescence. In a stranger effort to relax, he lit fires in hotel rooms. Nothing apocalyptic, just a bit of pyromania between matches. Petrified that his hair was falling out, he took to wearing a hairpiece, which gave him yet another thing to worry about during big points. What if his rug fell off? He drifted into a relationship with Brooke Shields but knew the marriage was doomed when she made him wear lifts in his shoes so she could wear high heels on their wedding day. Not surprisingly, he began to lose focus, lose the capacity to care and finally lose tennis matches. He played the game like a man with a plane to catch, and spectators and even the Davis Cup coach publicly accused him of tanking. Now that drinking and lighting fires no longer dulled the pain, he turned to snorting crystal meth. Of all the admissions Agassi makes, this may be the one that causes the most controversy. People will debate whether the drug ruined his game or was in fact what allowed him to come back when his ranking fell out of the top 100. But whatever the doping reveals about Agassi, it says far more about the Association of Tennis Professionals and its drug program. When Agassi tested positive at a tournament, the result was never made public; he was never suspended; and the ATP ultimately accepted his bogus claim, sent by letter and supported by no evidence, that he accidentally drank a spiked soda. While not without excitement, Agassi’s comeback to No. 1 is less uplifting than his sheer survival, his emotional resilience and his good humor in the face of the luckless cards he was often dealt. In the end he made some inspired choices, not simply by marrying Steffi Graf, starting a charitable foundation for the education of poor children and finding a terrific ghostwriter in J.R. Moehringer, a Pulitzer Prize winner, but also by refusing to put pressure on his kids to play tennis. bookworld@washpost.com
Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

From Booklist
Agassi has always had a tortured look in his eyes on the tennis court. In 1992, when he burst onto the world sports stage by winning the Grand Slam at Wimbledon, he looked like a deer in headlights. Nobody seemed more surprised and upset by his big win that day than he did. For good reason, too. Agassi hated tennis. This is the biggest revelation in his very revealing autobiography. Agassi has hated tennis from early childhood, finding it extremely lonely out on the court. But he didn’t have a choice about playing the game because his father drove him to become a champion, like it or not. Mike Agassi, a former Golden Gloves fighter who never made it professionally, decided that his son would become a champion tennis player. In militaristic fashion, Mike pushed seven-year-old Andre to practice relentlessly until the young boy was exhausted and in pain. He also arranged for Andre, age 13, to attend a tennis camp where he was expected to pull weeds and clean toilets. The culmination of all of this parental pushing came when Andre began winning as an adult. But it didn’t make him happy. Within this framework, Agassi’s other disclosures make sense. He had a troubled marriage to Brooke Shields that didn’t last. He developed a drug problem that sabotaged his career. He was insecure about everything. Only when Andre met tennis star Steffi Graf (whom he eventually married) did things begin to change. Readers will definitely cheer when Andre finally makes peace with the game he once hated and learns to enjoy it. –Jerry Eberle

Review
“Insightful [and] exceedingly well-written . . . [Open] has the cadence and plotting of a good novel . . . The raw energy and emotion throughout are pure Agassi.”
            -Newsday Top 10 Books of 2009
 
“Surprisingly candid . . . The baseline bad boy serves up his harrowing anecdotes with the same force he put behind every on-court ace.”
            -Entertainment Weekly 10 Best Nonfiction Books of 2009
 
“Bracingly devoid of triumphalist homily, Agassi’s is one of the most passionately anti-sports books ever written by a superstar athlete.”
            - The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2009
 
“Andre Agassi’s memoir is just as entrancing as his tennis game . . . By sharing an unvarnished, at times inspiring story in an arresting, muscular style, Agassi may have just penned one of the best sports autobiographies of all time. Check—it’s one of the better memoirs out there, period.”
            -Sean Gregory, Time
 
“Not just a first-rate sports memoir but a genuine bildungsroman, darkly funny yet also anguished and soulful. It confirms what Agassi’s admirers sensed from the outset, that this showboat . . . was not clamoring for attention but rather conducting a struggle to wrest some semblance of selfhood from the sport that threatened to devour him.”
            -Sam Tanenhaus, The New York Times Book Review
 
“[A] heartfelt memoir . . . Agassi’s style is open, all right, and his book, like so many of his tennis games, is a clear winner.”
            -O, The Oprah Magazine
 
Open describes [Agassi’s] personal odyssey with brio and unvarnished candor . . . His career-comeback tale is inspiring but even more so is another Open storyline. It could be called: The punk grows up . . . Countless athletes start charitable foundations, but frequently the organizations are just tax shelters or PR stunts. For Mr. Agassi helping others has instead become his life’s calling . . . Open is a superb memoir, but it hardly closes the books on an extraordinary life.”
            -Jay Winik, The Wall Street Journal
 
“It’s both astonishing and a pleasure to report that Andre Agassi . . . has produced an honest, substantive, insightful autobiography . . . The bulk of this extraordinary book vividly recounts a lost childhood, a Dickensian adolescence, and a chaotic struggle in adulthood to establish an identity . . . While not without excitement, Agassi’s comeback to No. 1 is less uplifting than his sheer survival, his emotional resilience, and his good humor in the face of the luckless cards he was often dealt.”
            -Michael Mewshaw, Washington Post
 
“Honest in a way that such books seldom are . . . An uncommonly well-written sports memoir.”
            -Charles McGrath, The New York Times
 
“Probably the most candid sports autobiography ever written . . . A remarkably real, tell-it-like-it-is, record-breaking read.”
            -Nancy Isenberg, The [Baton Rouge] Advocate
 
“Agassi weaves a fascinating tale of professional tennis and personal adversity . . . His tale shows that success is measured both on and off the court.”
            -Doree Shafrir, New York Post
 
 “Refreshingly candid . . . This lively, revealing, and entertaining book is certain to roil the tennis world and make a big splash beyond.”
            -Publishers Weekly
 
“Enigmatic tennis great Agassi lays it all on the line . . . Agassi’s photographic recall of pivotal matches evokes the raw intensity of watching them from the stands. Lovers of the sport will also appreciate this window into the mind of a champion . . . An ace of a tale about how one man found his game.”
            -Kirkus