An obsessively personal history of the blood feud between North Carolina’s and Duke’s basketball teams and what that rivalry says about class and culture in the South
The basketball rivalry between Duke and North Carolina is the fiercest and longest-running blood feud in college athletics, and perhaps in all of sports. To legions of otherwise reasonable adults, it is a conflict that surpasses athletics; it is rich against poor, locals against outsiders, even good against evil. In North Carolina, where both schools reside, it is a way of aligning oneself with larger philosophic ideals—of choosing teams in life—a tradition of partisanship that reveals the pleasures and even the necessities of hatred.
As the season unfolds, Blythe, the former longtime literary editor of Esquire and a lifelong Tarheels fan, will immerse himself in the lives of the two teams, eavesdropping on practice sessions, hanging with players, observing the arcane rituals of fans, and struggling to establish some basic human kinship with Duke’s players and proponents. With access to the coaches, the stars, and the bit players, it is both a chronicle of personal obsession and a record of social history.
About the Author
Will Blythe is the former literary editor of Esquire. A frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review, he has written for the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Elle, and the Oxford American, and is the editor of the acclaimed book Why I Write. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Sportswriting. He grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and now lives in New York City.
You don’t have to be a Tar Heel or Blue Devil to like [THLT], because it’s funny, perceptive, and smart. — Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
An exceptionally entertaining parable in defense of good, healthy, all-American loathing.... an animosity the whole family can share. — New York Post
The best book about politics I´ve read since All the King´s Men ... it’s about basketball [like] Moby Dick is about whaling. — Hartford Courant
“A revelation.... an elegant testament to the way pastimes are far more than ways to pass the time.” — Publishers Weekly (signature review)
“The kind of sportswriting that comes along so rarely you can count the classics on one hand . . . read this book.” — Play (New York Times Magazine sports supplement)
“Blythe seduces with his story of Southern identity...passed down from fathers to their roaming sons...raucous, tender, and fierce.” — Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, author of "Random Family"
“The best book on basketball I have ever read ... destined to become a classic of sports literature.” — Pat Conroy
“Not since Exley’s A Fan’s Notes has anyone produced such a graceful and elegiac evocation of place, family, and sport”. — Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead
Goes far beyond the facile John Feinstein “inside a season” formula ... [Blythe] writes amusingly, self-deprecatingly and often beautifully. — New York Times Book Review
Blythe writes like a wizard ... Even if college basketball isn’t your obsession, you’ll get caught up in this. — Elle
Hilarious and remarkably wise ... you don’t want to say too much about [this book], for fear of spoiling the surprises. — Sports Illustrated
Blythe makes you want to scream from the sidelines... while his hate is contagious, the obvious affection behind it remains. — New York Post
Blythe brings great wit, style, and insight... a long-awaited American answer to Fever Pitch. — Baltimore Sun
The best book about loving a team since “A Fan’s Notes” ... [a book] about a lot more than basketball. — Greensboro News & Record