Miracle Monday: The Book List

Miracle Monday

Now that our grand tour through the roster (and then some) of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team has (regretfully) come to an end, I thought I'd take today to introduce you all to where I got most of my information! Contrary to popular belief, I'm not a stalker, so no, none of this information was gathered by hand. But if there's one thing that journalism school taught me how to do (besides, y'know, write), it's research. (Though journalism school did teach me how to stalk appropriately, too. We had a stalking assignment and everything. But that's beside the point.)

No, everything I wrote that wasn't directly linked back to an article came from a book. I've come a long way from that night late in 2012 when I was watching Miracle and thought, "hey, this is an awesome story. I wonder if there are any books about it." Nowadays? I've got a veritable library going on, folks. And here's your guide to it! :)

books about the 1980 U.S. olympic hockey team miracle on ice

The Boys of Winter by Wayne Coffey: I've already reviewed this bad boy (see here!), and can't recommend it enough. It's the first title Google spit out when I first began my quest to know all the things about this team, and for good reason: it's definitely the most current, overall comprehensive book of the bunch. While it definitely has some significant gaps, especially in terms of word count devoted to each player, it's a fabulous place to start.

Going for the Gold by Tim Wendel: This was my second book purchase after I devoured Boys of Winter several times, and it's incredibly enjoyable. It's a pretty quick and easy read, and does a good job filling in some of the gaps Boys of Winter has. It was written in 1981 by a beat reporter that covered the team during the pre-Olympic season. So while Boys of Winter has lots of in-depth information about the Olympics and their lives in the following decades, Going for the Gold gives you all sorts of fun anecdotes and information about that pre-Olympic season (emphasis on "fun"!). It highlights a handful of players more in-depth but doesn't really attempt to get to all of them; guys that Wendel mentioned were his friends definitely got the bulk of the attention. So it's significantly less comprehensive, but it gives you a great picture of what the team dynamic felt like and will definitely have you chuckling. :)

Miracle on Ice by The New York Times: Okay, how cool is this? Almost immediately after the 1980 Olympics wrapped up, The New York Times compiled all of their stories about the U.S. hockey team into this book. That's all it is: newspaper stories. Considering I wrote my undergrad honors thesis on the Times' Olympic coverage through the years, I'm very much geekily in love with this book. It's incredibly cool to watch the stories progress from "unless the ice melts or a miracle occurs, the Soviets will win the gold medal" to "well hey, the U.S. is actually doing okay!" to "holy $#!* what did we just witness?!" to "THOSE ARE OUR ALL-AMERICAN BOYS!!" At one point, a Soviet player is compared to a squirt of ketchup. It's so great. And it cost me one cent on Amazon. So you should get it.

Remembering Herbie by Ross Bernstein: This book is (obviously) more specifically about Herb Brooks than it is the Miracle team, but the two are so indelibly entwined. It was written by a reporter that was working extremely closely with Herb before he passed away, and he put this book together (obviously) in memoriam. Basically, he interviewed almost 100 people who were close to Herb, asking them all the same questions, and compiled the book almost in a Q&A style: the question is the heading, and then each person's answer is quoted underneath. It makes it a little hard to follow when you're unfamiliar with some of the interviewees (*raises hand*), and it does get a little bit long in the tooth at times. But it's really, really cool to get direct quotes from players about their relationship with Herb, and to sort of see him from their perspective. I recommend this book with a warning, though. There are numerous spelling, grammar and factual errors, and there were many times that I was so frustrated with it that I had to react out loud. (Luckily my roommate wasn't home, or she probably would've wondered why I was looking up at the ceiling and groaning obnoxiously.) Bernstein self-published, and I don't know if that's completely to blame for the book's sloppiness, but either way, you have been warned!

America's Coach by Ross Bernstein: I seriously debated lumping both of Bernstein's books together, because they feel very much like a set. This one is biographical, though, so you get a narrative of Herb's life. All of the quotes he used (I'm pretty sure) were also in Remembering Herbie, so there's not a ton of new stuff in terms of that. However, it was really interesting to get a bit of a timeline of Herb's life (it was all kind of fuzzy for me after 1980!) and a look at what made him who he was. But the same warning stands as with Remembering Herbie: beware of errors.

Herb Brooks: The Inside Story of a Hockey Mastermind by John Gilbert: Oh man, I have a very volatile love/hate relationship with this book (which is another one about Herb). I'll start with the bad, I guess. The author is a hockey reporter that wrote extensively about Herb through the years, which led to an apparently exclusive relationship, one-on-one interviews during the Olympics, special access, what-have-you. While that does mean good things in terms of information, it also left Gilbert with a very holier-than-thou tone in his writing. It's abundantly clear that he thinks he knows absolutely everything when it comes to Herb and USA Hockey and the Olympic team, and while I was reading I constantly felt like I was being talked down to. It was beyond aggravating, especially when some of the things he wrote were wrong. (And I'm not saying that to be a know-it-all. When he references Miracle and quotes it incorrectly, that's something absolutely anyone could realize!) That being said, though, lets move onto the good! Guys, this book contains so many fabulous stories about this team! Oh man. Truly, it's full of wonderful. There's all sorts of stuff about the players, from their college days, the 1978 National Sports Festival, 1979 worlds, the 1979 National Sports Festival, all the way through the Olympics and beyond! (Herb coached Pav on the Rangers, and I cannot even tell you how much joy this book brought me in terms of talking about their relationship. It was a very joyous, emotional experience.) So I dog-eared the hell out of this book, despite the absolute rage it brought on. So I definitely recommend it... I just can't recommend the author.

Gold Medal Strategies by Jim Craig: Guys, I love Jim Craig. Have we covered that yet? ;) I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book; sure, it's co-authored, but I had no idea if Jim was any kind of decent writer. And it's a business book, so I was a little afraid it would be kind of dry. But honestly? Jim is not a "dry" kind of person! His writing has a very authentic, distinct voice, and was familiar to the point that it felt like it was a chat with a friend. A very knowledgable and business-minded friend, sure, but someone who wasn't going to shy away from cracking a joke. I was obviously more interested in the Olympic stories and the anecdotes about his teammates, so I found the interludes about various businesses and brands to be less than thrilling. However, like I said, it never got stale. I was plenty entertained throughout, and he told some great stories that had me literally laughing out loud. It's also incredibly cool to hear how Jim feels about some of his 1980 teammates, straight from his own mouth. :)

One Goal by John Powers and Art Kaminsky: I'm just going to be flat-out honest here and say that I absolutely freaking adore this book. I have no idea why it took me so long to finally read it (October of this year! Seriously, what the heck?)! Not only does it devote approximately equal time to each player -- which is so beyond wonderful, I can't even begin to tell you -- but it also goes in-depth about youth hockey in the regions where these guys all came from, so you get an idea of where they came from and how they each worked their way up. Um, amazing. And if you want laugh-out-loud stories from the pre-Olympic season, you want this book. It's a complete all-around winner. You'll go in thinking you know who your favorite players are, and by the time you're done you'll be even more in love with your original favorites and be newly obsessed with like eight more. It's well-written and hilarious and you should absolutely read it.

Jim Craig is in the process of writing another book (!!!) so there'll be more to this list in the future, but that's all for now. Go forth and read! :)
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