Sports are, and have been since the turn of the century, America's favorite pastime. Acclaimed sportswriter Michael Gershman and image aficionado Mark Rucker were given unprecedented access to the two major archives of sports photography. The result is this beautifully illustrated photobook that captures a glorious 100-year history through its key events and its champions in moments of dynamic action and quiet reflection. Superstars from every sport - including Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, and Babe Ruth - are seen defying gravity and perhaps good sense, landing a shattering TKO, or casually making history. Telling off-camera moments are also included, showing the human side of these heroes who don't always like the limelight.
What makes Images of Greatness
such a stunning volume is the drama and stories that spill from every one of its marvelous pictures. New, old, familiar, obscure, it doesn't matter--great sports photography is great sports photography, and the collection here is simply superb. Pre-1950, the wealth of images--Sugar Ray Robinson, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Red Grange, Bobby Jones, Jesse Owens, and hosts of less recognizable faces from other sports--almost glow in their stark, striking, black-and-white presentations.
From mid-century on, Images gets to cull from Sports Illustrated's comprehensive archive, and the pickings, in both color and black-and-white, are exquisite: Russell and Chamberlain battling for position, Beamon's jump, Laver's slam, Ali, Spitz, Affirmed and Alydar down the stretch, Nicklaus, Sampras, Montana, Mazeroski, Retton, Sosa, McGwire, Brandi Chastain. Images is organized by decade, each with a short essay for context, but words seem almost superfluous. The pictures are their own context, and their stories are perfectly self-contained. --Jeff Silverman