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Howard Cosell

The Man, the Myth, and the Transformation of American Sports

Mark Ribowsky (Author)


A deeply misunderstood sports legend, once the most hated and loved man in America, gets his due in this absorbing, revelatory biography.

Howard Cosell was one of the most recognizable and controversial figures in American sports history. His colorful bombast, fearless reporting, and courageous stance on civil rights soon captured the attention of listeners everywhere. No mere jock turned "pretty-boy" broadcaster, the Brooklyn-born Cosell began as a lawyer before becoming a radio commentator. "Telling it like it is," he covered nearly every major sports story for three decades, from the travails of Muhammad Ali to the tragedy at Munich. Featuring a sprawling cast of athletes such as Jackie Robinson, Sonny Liston, Don Meredith, and Joe Namath, Howard Cosell also re-creates the behind-the-scenes story of that American institution, Monday Night Football. With more than forty interviews, Mark Ribowsky presents Cosell's life as part of an American panorama, examining racism, anti-Semitism, and alcoholism, among other sensitive themes. Cosell's endless complexities are brilliantly explored in this haunting work that reveals as much about the explosive commercialization of sports as it does about a much-neglected media giant.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • November 2011
  • ISBN 978-0-393-08017-9
  • 6.5 × 9.6 in / 496 pages
  • Sales Territory: USA and Dependencies, Philippines and Canada.

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverHoward Cosell: The Man, the Myth, and the Transformation of American Sports


Endorsements & Reviews

“Starred review. The definitive word on a loved, loathed, maddeningly complex broadcasting legend.” — Kirkus

“Ribowsky, who seems to have read just about everything on Cosell, is a deft narrator of the life of Humble Howard, taking his readers from the skinny kid in Brooklyn who yearned to spend more time with an absent father to the sportscaster who helped make an event out of “Monday Night Football” by being so very different from anyone else who had ever called a game.” — New York Times Book Review

“A sportscasting giant is interpreted for a generation that never knew him…Mark Ribowsky's clear-eyed take on the broadcaster who built his career on "telling it like it is" reveals the insecurities that fueled Cosell's bravado, charting his ascension from growing up in a middle-class home in Brooklyn to a short-lived career as a lawyer before elbowing his way into radio and TV and becoming the most influential—and controversial—sports commentator in America.” — Sports Illustrated

“Mr. Ribowsky's book is an entertaining read and a thought-provoking portrayal of the multi-faceted Howard Cosell in all his glory and enmity. It is based on voluminous, well-sourced research into print and electronic material, coupled with numerous interviews with Cosell's contemporaries.

...the book vividly depicts Cosell as a brilliant meteor that soared through the electronic sky before ultimately fading, dimmed by controversy, age, exhaustion and perhaps his own obstreperous personality. Warts and all, there has never been, and may never be again, anyone quite like Howard Cosell.” — Don Ohlmeyer, former president of NBC West Coast and produced of "Monday Night Football" from 1972 to 1976, Wall Street Journal "Bookshelf"

“Ribowsky has deftly captured this complicated figure, and anyone who cares about sports and how we talk about sports will find this book well worth the time, no matter how off-putting its subject was to many.” — Steve Kettman, San Francisco Chronicle

“Ribowsky, who previously wrote a fine book on Satchel Paige, gives Cosell the treatment this controversial giant in sports journalism deserves.” — New York Post

“In Howard Cosell, author Mark Ribowsky reveals the obnoxious broadcaster who transformed sports reporting.” — Sherryl Connelly, New York Daily News

“...[T]he first thoroughly researched and effectively framed biography of Cosell and his times...

Beyond its poignant depiction of a flawed, paranoid and narcissistic character with the uncanny talent to immerse himself entirely, almost supernaturally, into emerging events, Ribowsky's Howard Cosell makes crystal clear the entwined path of Cosell's epic career within the world of Big Time sports and its broadcasting partners, as they quite literally created the monstrosities they are today.” — James Campion, Huffington Post

“A powerful biography… well researched and well written.” — Jewish Journal

Also by Mark Ribowsky All

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