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Last Dance: Behind the Scenes at the Final Four

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  808 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
Exploring what it means to a school, a coach, and a player to be in the Final Four or even at The Final, this work features stories of players and coaches who thought they'd never make it to college basketball's final weekend, the spectacular triumphs of the winning teams, and the heartbreaking defeat of those who missed the cut.
Paperback, 400 pages
Published February 2nd 2007 by Back Bay Books (first published 2006)
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The Book of Basketball by Bill SimmonsThe Breaks of the Game by David HalberstamWhen the Game Was Ours by Larry BirdA Season on the Brink by John FeinsteinThe Jordan Rules by Sam Smith
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,312)
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This was neither John Feinstein's best work, nor the best writing on the world of college hoops. However, though I'm terribly behind on reviewing bigger and better books, with less than two weeks left before this year's Last Dance, I wanted to give this a whirl before the window of relevance closes.

This glimpse “Behind the Scenes at the Final Four” is not for new fans. Although I do love me some “bracketology,” I felt out of my league for some of the reminiscing among Feinstein and his v
Sep 24, 2010 David rated it it was ok
As NBA announcer Mark Jackson would say, "John Feinstein, you're better than this!". I've read about 10 of Feinstein's books, starting with Season on the Brink re Bob Knight, and they're mostly terrific, especially when he chooses less well-covered territory (e.g. Patriot League basketball or long-term aftermath of Kermit Washington punch of Rudy T. or Army-Navy football game, rather than ACC basketball or Final Four). But this one is kind of phoned in. A couple good, non-obvious chapters giving ...more
Mar 11, 2010 Kathy added it
Shelves: abandoned
Seeing as how the tournament is fast approaching, and the Pac-10 gave me very little to pay attention to this year, I picked this book up again this weekend. And will be putting it back down. John Feinstein is terrific on NPR, but this book makes me feel like I'm hanging out with Leslie Knope on "Parks and Recreation". She's very excited about name dropping for all the Pawnee movers and shakers, but we have no idea who they are so we are more bemused rather than interested. I'm sure the stories ...more
Mar 29, 2014 Brad rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who know nothing about college basketball and don't mind loose writing
This might be the nail in the Feinstein coffin for me. For a guy who gets so much great information, he never knows when to end a passage, let alone how to transition them coherently. And if he would take all the cliches out of this book (and his others I have read) it would have been half as long and frustrating. As a college basketball fan, I could not have felt more patronized by someone who obviously has a lot of inside knowledge, but no idea how to share it with the world in an exciting way ...more
Mar 12, 2011 Ice rated it liked it
Shelves: sports, basketball
Feinstein is turning out the sports books faster than ever, as his whirlwind tour of the NCAA college basketball tournament follows quickly on the heels of his fall 2005 look at pro football, Next Man Up. Maybe that explains the somewhat rushed feel, as Feinstein skips briskly from one anecdote to the next.

In his effort to depict the annual climax of "March Madness" from as many perspectives as possible, Feinstein collects stories from coaches, players, referees, sportscasters and others, more o
Oct 25, 2011 Dustin rated it it was ok
John Feinstein may be my favorite writer out there... His books for me combine great writing with subject matter that almost always vibes with what I'm interested in. So when I was perusing books at a used book sale a few years ago, and I saw this book for 3 dollars, it seemed like a complete no-brainer... I bought it without even considering it. It wasn't until a recent flight to Maine that I actually picked this book up to read. At about 370 pages, this isn't a complicated read, so I figured i ...more
Jamie Lahman
Jan 13, 2012 Jamie Lahman rated it really liked it
Everything and everything regarding the Final Four can be found in this book. Mr. Feinstein covers every single aspect of the weekend. He starts quite chronologically, matching the events that take place in earliest in the weekend, earliest in the book, or at least for the most part. Some chapters feel awkward in the placement. For instance, the chapter entitled "Partying" describes the events the NCAA uses to keep people occupied until the next basketball game is played. This chapter beginnings ...more
Jul 23, 2011 Aaron rated it it was ok
Shelves: sports
Last Dance is a "behind-the-scenes" look at the roots, growth, commercialism, players, coaches, and administrators of the Final Four. The book uses the 2005 Final Four (when Coach Roy Williams won his first championship with North Carolina) as a focal point for looking at the Final Four from the position of the NCAA, (especially) the coaches, players, and other ancillary characters. I had two problems with this approach; one, we get a very sympathetic viewpoint of Coach Williams, UNC, and the AC ...more
Bryce Holt
Apr 22, 2011 Bryce Holt rated it really liked it
I'm a KU guy (yeah, yeah, go ahead and comment away on the VCU loss...I've got thick skin), so you can pretty much assume that college ball comes first in my sports interests. Any info about what happens behind the scrim of this massive event fascinates me, and this is a pretty potent look at all the components that make the Final Four what it is, bite-size though the book may be. "Last Dance" should get a 3.5 rating and possibly even a 3 as it wasn't nearly as powerful as the shockingly good "T ...more
Mar 04, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
This book is sort of a mess, as far as organization and cohesiveness go, but I still found this collection of stories about Final Fours past, set around the 2005 tournament, very, even surprisingly, enjoyable. I'm not supposed to like Feinstein. As a Kentucky fan, I am contractually obligated to be thin-skinned and easy to rile, full of righteous indignation at anyone who has ever said anything bad or even sort of maybe not flattering about Kentucky basketball, ever. And Feinstein is famously a ...more
Marty Greenwell
Mar 16, 2015 Marty Greenwell rated it really liked it
Wanted to finish this before Match Madness started. Based on the 2005 Final Four but goes into the history of the Final Four and all of March Madness. Really interesting about the coaches who have won and those who want to win it all. The referee selection as well as the selection committee and how they worked was cool. Know now that it isn't all glamour, especially the waiting and waiting between games.
Apr 05, 2015 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Final Four is the focus of the work. Although the tournament was ten years ago, the story remains relevant because the author focuses upon the history of the Final Four. Rather than highlight the Final Four of that season, Mr. Feinstein uses the bulk of the text to present the legendary coaches and games from Final Fours in the past. There are extensive interviews with some of the coaching greats of the game. Coaching stories and interviews comprise the bulk of the text.

The author intersper
Mar 08, 2012 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
I think I have read all of Feinstein's books dating back to A Season on the Brink when I was in high school. I have always enjoyed his stories as he has an excellent knack of writing in an entertaining manner on interesting sports topics. I have also heard him a lot on sports radio so many of the things in this book are some of the same rants about the NCAA, the concept of the student-athlete, etc, that John calls out frequently. Setting that aside, the book is about the week of the final four w ...more
Robert Hill
Mar 18, 2014 Robert Hill rated it it was ok
The book is a very complete history of the Final Four. I found the details of the deliberations of "the committee" most interesting. The chapter on refereeing also held my interest. There are some stories of the coaches that inspire. I found the book to be repetitive at points. My rating is probably a function of my interest in all of the details of the games.
Paul Miller
Not one of Feinstein's more interesting jobs. Very familiar territory if you're a college basketball guy - basically, it's about what goes on at the Final Four. Thanks to ESPN, it feels like we all know this by heart. So if you're new to college hoops, it might be worth the time. Otherwise, skip it.
Jim Serger
Apr 13, 2014 Jim Serger rated it it was amazing
Wow! Talk about what it means to get to the Big Dance. The author did a super job explaining more than college basketball. He talks about refs, the business angle, the meetings in Indianapolis, the media and what it means for schools, coaches and players. Excellent audio book, superb quality-- the emotion of the author was felt. He was all in.
Apr 12, 2015 Rob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Though this was the first book I've read by the author, I felt that thought it was a decent book about college basketball, specifically the Final Four and National Championship games, the author was fairly redundant (i.e., he repeated some of the same stories throughout the book). So much that it became tedious at times. Like other reviewers, the author seemed to have difficulty transitioning from one topic to the next, or where to finish one topic. As I stated before, overall it was a decent bo ...more
Jun 14, 2015 Tom rated it really liked it
Good book about the NCAA final 4s over the years. Very ACC focused, but still interesting, and an interesting bunch of stories about the coaches, and the week of the final Four.
Feb 27, 2016 Jeff rated it liked it
good inside stories,wish there were more. also wish it was less repetitive, also wish it was less repetitive.
Mar 21, 2014 Louann rated it liked it
Meh. A little old, but gave an interesting history of the Final Four/March Madness.
Feb 13, 2012 Sarah rated it liked it
Eh. As a lifelong (and obsessed) Carolina basketball fan, I eagerly anticipated reading a behind-the-scenes look at the 2005 Final Four. While the inside stories about the tournament itself, the politics, the referees, the coaches and the players were interesting, the writing was mediocre and several of the stories were repeated unnecessarily. The topic was great, but the book was dull. I've heard great things about John Feinstein, but wasn't impressed with his writing style. Hopefully this was ...more
Mar 27, 2014 Andy rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Actual: 3.5 stars. A little too Duke/UNC-centric.
May 12, 2014 Bernadette rated it liked it
Shelves: ken-s-books
Ken enjoyed this.
Mar 26, 2011 Linda rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
As the daughter of a college basketball coach and a great fan of the NCAA tournament, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. And what better timing for reading this piece than in the midst of March Madness even though my pick to win it all is no longer eligible for the Last Dance. And it turns out that Emily knows the author, and both Tom and I know a few individuals mentioned in the book.
Jan 03, 2009 Diane rated it liked it
Shelves: sports, audiobook
That was fun! This is the story of the Final Four and my 20 years in North Carolina made reading a treat. I liked learning a bit of the history of the NCAA tournament, the referees, the broadcasting, some of the major teams and coaches. Nothing to deep, and lots about UNC. If I didn't like Duke before, I really don't like Duke after reading this. A quick and easy read and nice timing.
Mar 07, 2013 Dave rated it really liked it
Although Feinstein is far too Atlantic Coast Conference-"centric" to me, this was a good behind the scene story of the greatest weekend in sports--The Final Four Weekend. The weekend is a celebration of all that is good with the sport and unfortunately all that is bad with the game as well. Feinstein brings it all alive with good back stories and brings the game alive.
David Ward
Last Dance: Behind the Scenes at the Final Four by John Feinstein (Little, Brown & Co. 2006) (796.32352) is one of Feinstein's best, mostly because it deals with the 2005 Final Four: Michigan State, Louisville, Illinois, and North Carolina. Carolina beat Illinois for the NCAA Championship! Woo-hoo! Great Book! My rating: 8.5/10, finished 2007.
Feb 19, 2008 Robert rated it it was ok
It follows the 2005 NCAA basketball tourney, but focuses way way way too much on UNC and Duke. This guy has something for Coach K and Roy Williams. I mean I know they are great coahces but don't try to trick me into thinking this book is about all four final four teams because it is not.
Aug 11, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-and-sports
As a Maryland fan, I enjoyed the inclusion of Gary and Lefty as well as the focus on the ACC with Duke and UNC. As a relatively new college basketball fan, the chance to learn more about the history of the sport and the ACC was just what I needed. I'm ready for basketball season!
Apr 05, 2007 shar rated it liked it
Great read for March. Feinstein is a good reporter and a good thinker about sports, especially college sports. In this book he gives us a good look behind the scenes. I especially liked his organization that gives us a good look at the basketball committee and the legends of the game.
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John Feinstein is one of the nation’s most successful and prolific sports authors who has written 24 books to date. His most recent work Are You Kidding Me? , written with Rocco Mediate, was released on May 18, 2009, and is presently on the shelf at bookstores everywhere. In addition, he is an award-winning columnist and regular contributor in both radio and television.

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