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A Sense of Where You Are
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A Sense of Where You Are

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  750 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Includes McPhee's original profile of Bill Bradeley that appeared in The New Yorker. Additional chapters round out his college career. This edition does not include his subsequent time with the New York Knickerbockers and his election to the U.S. Senate.
Mass Market Paperback, Bantam Pathfinder Editions, 92 pages
Published March 1967 by Bantam Books, Inc. (first published 1965)
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Steven Peterson
I just found my old paperback copy of this book. While in high school, I admired Bill Bradley's basketball playing at Princeton a great deal. As a result, I bought this book soon after it came about. This is a good luck at the career of Bradley at Princeton University. Literately written and a fascinating character study. . . .
David Quinn
Disappointingly fawning, I half-expected to see Bill Bradley’s mother and father as co-writers.

Bill Bradley’s Princeton years were undoubtedly filled with supreme basketball and academic success so I wasn’t expecting any type of exposé but the superlatives were heaped on too heavily for my liking.

This is better suited for YA readers.
Lynne-marie
This just reminded me of how much I love McPhee's style and also reminded me what it was like in the 1960's to be living in a home where Cazzie Russell was such a house-hold name that it reverberates today with great clangor still today.

This is essentially biographical sketch of a young Bill Bradley just after he left Princeton. Totally basketball, but a glimpse into the workings of the mind nevertheless. In a sense, it is a companion to a piece McPhee wrote within the last year for "The New Yor
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Corey Thibodeaux
Great portrait of a player through his own eyes. Bill Bradley was a unique player and man and John McPhee capturing some of those moments in action made this book relevant. I think I learned more about the game of basketball from this book than any other source.
Alex Strick van Linschoten
I have no interest in basketball whatsoever, but this book kept me hooked. I'm trying to read all of John McPhee's books this year, and this was a wonderful start.
Darryl
Bill Bradley was born in a small Missouri town, the son of the town's banker, who taught him discipline, hard work, and a love of learning, and his wife, a fiercely competitive but loving former athlete. Their son was one of the most celebrated schoolboy athletes in Missouri history, and was offered scholarships to over 70 colleges to play basketball. However, he chose to attend Princeton University, which did not provide athletic scholarships and was not known for its basketball team, as he had ...more
James Entwistle
Every now and then, I'll read a book, watch a movie, or see a youtube clip of Tim Tebow taking a handicapped girl as his date to a formal event that legitimately makes me want to be a better man. This book had that effect on me. Bill Bradley's drive, willpower, and moral fortitude are truly inspirational. Bradley's success in basketball and in his career thereafter speak to the value of hard work and perseverance. It was also refreshing and interesting to read a biography about someone that was ...more
Lisa
I finished A Sense of Where You Are last night. It was a fantastic book and an outstanding story. Bill Bradley lived out a story that every athlete hopes upon, especially to go out on such a positive note. I finished the book and immediately watched Youtube videos of Bradley.

I enjoyed McPhee’s writing style. He’s straightforward, light, metered. There’s an easy rhythm to his words.

I recommend it for sports fans, but also fans of creative non-fiction for the beautiful writing.
Ryan Holiday
I can't exactly say how I came to hear the two of them recommend this book, but when Robert Greene and Paul Graham both say something is good, I don't need to be told a third time. The title comes from a Bill Bradley quote about his hook shot, about how after enough of them his feel for the game was so good that he didn't need to look to see where he was on the court. He just knew. I guess it's probably a bit of the selection bias, but it's fascinating to me to read a biography of someone before ...more
Tom
A very quick read. Finished it in one afternoon. McPhee can really write. In many ways, this reads like a eulogy for idealized image of the "student athlete." Simply put, Bill Bradley was everything that major athletic universities would love to think that their athletes are. Heck, Bradley was what any university president would love to point to as the ideal student. Guys like Bradley were rare in the 1960s and they are rare now. McPhee does an elegant job of detailing Bradley's unique dedicatio ...more
Lee
a great account of bill bradley in what may be perhaps his best forum, though possibly the one for which he is least known. mcphee's first work follows bradley's senior year/ season at princeton. during this year he would win the national player of the year award, take princeton to the final four, and be selected as a rhodes scholar. bradley must be the greatest student-athlete of all time and this book accounts the incredible dedication, resolve, and work that made it possible. the only complai ...more
Ben
I picked this up used because I'm going to be reading more of John McPhee's work this summer. I was curious to see his general writing style. It's very clear. It flows and is hardly noticeable (thus letting you focus completely on the topic). I still don't like basketball, though.
Trina
Sure did like this book about Bill Bradley who played at Princeton while I was growing up there. I never saw him play, and I didn't even read this til much later, but it's an outstanding profile of a young basketball player at the start of his career by a young writer also starting off his writing career. Through detailed description, McPhee captures not just the training and techniques that made Bradley such an extraordinary athlete, but also the self-discipline and strong sense of where he was ...more
Nedjoyce
A solid book. Biography of a great man. A mans life through his approach to a sport. Very well written. Makes you appreciate the man that is Bill Bradley.
Ronald Wise
A detailed history of Bill Bradley's basketball career at Princeton University in the early 1960s. Though suspiciously laudatory, it provided some useful technical insights on the game from a players perspective. The main part of the book was first published in 1965, but this edition has addenda from 1978 and 1999 with photographs of Bradley's NBA career with the New York Knickerbockers and his political career as a United States Senator from New Jersey. I learned of this book through a tribute ...more
Alex Carlone
McPhee doesn't sentimentalize Bradley's standing or lay it on thick like other sports writers. He simply gives us the opportunity to watch a hardwood folk-legend in the making. Non-basketball fans will marvel at the monkish dedication and cunning self-experimentation that would impel Bradley through NCAA and NBA championships right through to the U.S. Senate. And for fans of the game, the intimate look into Bradley's work ethic, behind-the-scenes preparation, and proprioceptive wizardry on the c ...more
Alger
Not exactly top-drawer McPhee, but a sure sign of the direction his writing would take. More of a period piece than writing for the ages.
david
Wonderful yarn about Bradley and his amazing college hoops career at Princeton. Can't go wrong with sports, education and humor.
Brad
A really good profile of Bill Bradley in college, before he'd go on become a NBA player and politician. McPhee does a great job capturing how thoughtful, diligent, smart, and exceptional Bradley was compared to his college peers at Princeton and other schools.
My only real criticism with the book is that much of the writing on basketball feels horribly dated. McPhee wrote this book before much good writing on basketball existed, so his explanation of plays and shots feels clunky. I wish he would'
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Neal
best book about growing up as a gifted athlete who has skills and ambitions loftier than those of most top athletes. mcphee's description of game sequences is unrivalled, and he captures his character's most emblematic features in mundane moments. one unforgettable scene. bradley is practicing jump shots in the gym as mcphee observes. he's missing shot after shot. he tells mcphee that the height of the basket is a half-inch off of regulation. bradley adjusts, and sinks shot after shot. later, mc ...more
matthiah
A great book for those who appreciate the little things, the fundamentals in sports (specifically basketball). Good sports writing is tough to find these days, but Mcphee's attention to the details sets him apart. Plus, its a really magnificent profile of a pre-NBA, pre-Senate Bill Bradley during his senior season at Princeton when he was both the National Player of the Year and a Rhodes Scholar ... truly epitomizing the student-athlete model while leading Princeton to the Final Four. Bradley wa ...more
Dave
The book consists largely of McPhee's 1965 profile of Bradley for The New Yorker, which is sufficient to discover where Bradley's drive and desire came from. Well, the profile plus some biographical setup serves as a nice lead-in to Bradley's life in basketball and politics. I felt like the cap on Bradley's senior year at Princeton served to complete the circle — well, Mr. McPhee, don't leave me hanging! Excellent profile by a master of the genre in McPhee.
Brugge
It is fun to read a book written about a person before that person goes on to achieve & even exceed what everyone thinks he is capable of. You often read stories like this about young men or women who then end up burning out and not reaching their potential. This is obviously not the case with Bill Bradley. Another fun aspect of this book is the author John McPhee was a young author at the time and also went on to fulfill his potential.
Dave
I can still recall specific mental images conjured by McPhee's storytelling in this book. It opened the world of non-fiction to me.

Though I grew up in a New Yorker house, as a kid I used it only to find Chas. Addams and other cartoons; until I read this book and my dad told me that McPhee was a New Yorker writer. That began a lifelong affair with the magazine, and with this brilliant writer.
Roger
McPhee's 1st book. For those who know him from elsewhere, it may be a bit of surprise that a sports bio (almost hagiography) is 1st. That said, it's a typically straightforward McPhee discussion of a pretty remarkable person (read, way more than athlete). Considering when it was originally written (Bradley's senior year) the trajectory he took after that moment is all the more remarkable.
Justin Sorbara-Hosker
Quick. McPhee's first book shows how much he impacted the style of the New Yorker biographical profile (I still have to go find more Joseph Mitchell). Tight, short little book following Bill Bradley through his years at Princeton, & addendums provide small updates to his post college career as a Knick & a US Senator. Interesting how the relationship forms between writer and subject.
Richard
A great read, a young John McPhee writing about a young Bill Bradley. I don't know much about basketball, but I know more now, and understand why Bradley was held in such great respect and with so much affection. Beyond McPhee's book, it's something to think about how different our country might be if Bradley had won the presidency in 2000.
Craig
This was a fun time capsule. The basketball writing is dated but it's done with such care and poetry that I didn't mind. It also reminded me of the sports books I got from RIF as a kid ("The 10 Greatest Running Backs") and that's meant as a complement. I'm going to hold on to this and have my 9 year old son read it in a couple of years.
Leslie
Great book. It was a quick read but I really enjoyed it. This is a great tale of perseverance and virtue. It does not deal with Bradley's politics but his hours and hours of practice and self discipline to be the person that God wanted him to be. Inspiring read for athletic HS boys (not preachy about the practicing bit).
Dan  Logue
A look at the life of Bill Bradley (former New York Knicker and US Senator) through his methodology of approaching and playing the game of basketball while at Priceton. A blueprint for success in athletics, and for success in much more important arenas of life. Highly recommended, particularly for young student athletes...
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John McPhee was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and was educated at Princeton University and Cambridge University. His writing career began at Time magazine and led to his long association with the New Yorker, where he has been a staff writer since 1965. The same year he published his first book, A Sense of Where You Are, with FSG, and soon followed with The Headmaster (1966), Oranges (1967), The P ...more
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“Bradley is one of the few basketball players who have ever been appreciatively cheered by a disinterested away-from-home crowd while warming up. This curious event occurred last March, just before Princeton eliminated the Virginia Military Institute, the year's Southern Conference champion, from the NCAA championships. The game was played in Philadelphia and was the last of a tripleheader. The people there were worn out, because most of them were emotionally committed to either Villanova or Temple-two local teams that had just been involved in enervating battles with Providence and Connecticut, respectively, scrambling for a chance at the rest of the country. A group of Princeton players shooting basketballs miscellaneously in preparation for still another game hardly promised to be a high point of the evening, but Bradley, whose routine in the warmup time is a gradual crescendo of activity, is more interesting to watch before a game than most players are in play. In Philadelphia that night, what he did was, for him, anything but unusual. As he does before all games, he began by shooting set shots close to the basket, gradually moving back until he was shooting long sets from 20 feet out, and nearly all of them dropped into the net with an almost mechanical rhythm of accuracy. Then he began a series of expandingly difficult jump shots, and one jumper after another went cleanly through the basket with so few exceptions that the crowd began to murmur. Then he started to perform whirling reverse moves before another cadence of almost steadily accurate jump shots, and the murmur increased. Then he began to sweep hook shots into the air. He moved in a semicircle around the court. First with his right hand, then with his left, he tried seven of these long, graceful shots-the most difficult ones in the orthodoxy of basketball-and ambidextrously made them all. The game had not even begun, but the presumably unimpressible Philadelphians were applauding like an audience at an opera.” 4 likes
“If basketball was going to enable Bradley to make friends, to prove that a banker's son is as good as the next fellow, to prove that he could do without being the greatest-end-ever at Missouri, to prove that he was not chicken, and to live up to his mother's championship standards, and if he was going to have some moments left over to savor his delight in the game, he obviously needed considerable practice, so he borrowed keys to the gym and set a schedule for himself that he adhereded to for four full years—in the school year, three and a half hours every day after school, nine to five on Saturday, one-thirty to five on Sunday, and, in the summer, about three hours a day.” 2 likes
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