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North Dallas Forty (North Dallas Forty #1)

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  974 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
The story of eight harrowing days in the chaotic life of a professional football player, North Dallas Forty, originally published in 1973, exposes an NFL rife with corruption, drugs, sex, and violence. His body already racked with multiple injuries, Phil Elliot (played by Nick Nolte in the major film of 1978) is a cynical tight end hooked on painkillers and other mind-alte ...more
Paperback, 314 pages
Published October 30th 2000 by Total Sports (first published 1973)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,413)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Apr 24, 2013 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I never saw a guy having so much fun and crying at the same time."

Drugs, sex, exploitation, and alcohol provide the octane for 8 days in the life of Phil Elliott an aging wide receiver for a Dallas professional football team. Hunter S. Thompson would have been holding his hand up by day four saying take me out coach. I might have lasted two days. Elliott not only lasts the entire span, but shows up to football practice every day and plays a professional game by day seven. If anyone is looking t
Treasure of the Rubbermaids 13: Are You Ready For Some Football Under the Friday Night Lights On Any Given Sunday?

The on-going discoveries of priceless books and comics found in a stack of Rubbermaid containers previously stored and forgotten at my parent’s house and untouched for almost 20 years. Thanks to my father dumping them back on me, I now spend my spare time unearthing lost treasures from their plastic depths.

This book had crossed my mind several times over the past year before and duri
Jan 24, 2011 Sojyung rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked up Peter Gent's "North Dallas Forty" after Dr. Z (the formr Sports Illustrated columnist)'s recommendation. Always in the elusive hunt for a good football book, I excitedly hunted down a copy of the book which my favorite sports writer described in glowing terms.

It's not that Gent is a bad writer. In fact, his writing is impressive at times, showing conscious styling and acute literary sense. I genuinely admired how he structured the book so that the development, climax, and dénouement
David Keaton
Jul 08, 2014 David Keaton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A ridiculously ambitious book from a former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver (!) who I will always picture as Nick Nolte, in spite of his strange wizard-like author photo on the flap. This book is basically responsible for Any Given Sunday decades later, and in fact was made into its own oddly touching movie adaptation way back when. The movie lacks one important detail, however. Yes, I'm talking about the action-packed, racially charged bloodbath of a conclusion. What? Don't remember those murders ...more
Dec 30, 2011 Jake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports-books
Peter Gent's jarring Roman a clef about playing for the late-60s Dallas Cowboys still holds up well today. A no-holds-barred account on the violent life of an NFL athlete, it gives the reader pause for reflection that even in 2011, the players in the league are playing under less than optimal circumstances with their bodies as their only commodities.
Tom Stamper
The semi-autobiographical novel about the NFL in the 1970s is quite an education about the game in that era. It seems to be aimed at shocking the reader, but Jim Bouton had already accomplished much the same task with his baseball memoir Ball Four. And we all know that football had to be worse. The difference is that Jim Bouton is always likable because he has such a sense of humor about the foibles of players and coaches. Bouton also gives you people to root for. You come away convinced Johnny ...more
Cormac Zoso
*** Here Be Spoilers ***

Peter Gent broke open the secretive world of pro football just as Jim Bouton's "Ball Four" had peeled back the horsehide of pro baseball. By the way, Gent, his last name, is pronounced with a hard G, as in 'gator' or 'gavel' (as he explained on an NPR interview since the interviewer commonly mistakenly used the soft G pronunciation as in 'gentleman').

Gent's path into the NFL was an odd one in that he didn't play college football but was an all-Big Ten basketball player a
Sep 29, 2011 Brendan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading North Dallas Forty. I read it for an article I was writing for D Magazine on The Great Dallas Novel. Peter Gent was a very talented, entertaining writer. Also a very angry writer. He loved football, but was angry at what the game was becoming.

The book has an amazing amount of drug use and almost everyone in the book is fairly detestable. But there are some brilliant observations about human behavior.

I've never been interested in football particularly. But I couldn't put
Nov 06, 2015 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this fictional account of the final eight days of a professional football player's career with a Dallas professional football team. The characters, if not the story line (who knows?), are based on the real Dallas Cowboys, for whom Gent played, its players, coaches, and owners of the mid-1960s. Phillip Elliot (Peter Gent), the protagonist through whose eyes the story is narrated is too independent, publicly profane, and cynical to fit the Dallas team's corporate mold and is e ...more
Jan 14, 2013 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like this book a lot. Mostly because the book explains how someone life is as a football player. Plus it shows that someone people might not like you but you can overcome that make a lot of people like you because you try your hardest at something. But it can also teach you that if you try the hardest at things that you won’t be at the top any more. Not a hall a fame player but someone who loves to play the game of football. Plus it tells you about all of the changes that he has to go through ...more
John Devlin
A roman a clef of the late 60's in the NFL. Gent's story details the drugs, the women, and the endless pain that follows these men through their gridiron battles. Now, more a period piece, North Dallas depicts Texas and its prejudices against blacks and drugs as reflexively as it shines a light on the cavalcade of pain killers from codeine to novocain to the ubiquitous use of Amphetamines. Certainly, much has changed in the NFL as regards racism and drug use, but I was left to wonder about the p ...more
Jul 23, 2011 Ruth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
c1973. I read this book after seeing the fantastic film which is unusual for me as I normally do it the other way around. But I knew that there must be more to the story than depicted in the film. Written by Mr Gent who, I believe, was actually a "former offensive end for the Dallas cowboys. (Don't you just love the terminology!!!!!), I found the story riveting even for a lass living on the Dark Continent at the time. Larry King liked this book calling Mr Gent "He's good, astonishingly so, and s ...more
Dec 23, 2015 Brandon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Semi-fiction. Nasty and funny story of a pro football player. Loved the dialogue. Not sure what took me so long to get around reading this one!

Quote of Note: "Fortunately I am suffering from a form of incompetence that is not easily recognizable. It adds to my inscrutability."
Greg Silva
Dec 22, 2015 Greg Silva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Business Of Masculinity

If Hemingway had been into football, he might have written this. Funny and sad. Based on real people and events.
Jul 25, 2013 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a dedicated football fan, I was perusing and came across an article claiming the movie based on this book as the greatest football movie ever - I don't remember much of the movie (watched over twenty years ago) but it reminded me that I read the book before I watched the movie...and I remember it being a good read - surprising at the time that the behind-the-scenes life of players was not one thought of by childhood admirers. But the former football player exposed the hypocrisy of the ...more
Sharon Anne Beers
Feb 17, 2016 Sharon Anne Beers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thinly disguised and fictionalized tale of the author's years as a player for the Dallas Cowboys.
May 27, 2009 Gaston rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Dallas Cowboys fans, Sports fans, Those who subscribe to alcohol and drug use.
Recommended to Gaston by: Sports Illustrated
Wow. This is one hell of a book. Unfortunately it only seems to garner notice and fans from sports fans. However, there is very little about the game of football in this incredible novel.

There is, however, lots of self-loathing, drug and alcohol abuse, promiscuous and perverse sexual encounters, and lots of out-loud laughter. Not sure if the female side would really enjoy this book, but any young/middle aged male definitely figures to benefit.

Very existential, very funny, and extremely enterta
May 27, 2008 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book after seeing the Nick Nolte movie adapted from it. Unsurprisingly, the book is far better than the movie, and is quite the insight into professional football in the late 60s, and the inevitable clash between the players and the coaches: even the "law-abiding" players clashed with the coaches' ideas. Also, Gent is a very good writer, and he really captured what he/the main character went through--the daily routine of dealing with all the injuries incurred, the drugs used to mai ...more
Madeline Dauksas
Best Sports Book out there--a week in the life of a pro athlete.
Zguba Salemenska
A very entertaining look at the world of professional football. The ending however is a total disconnect from the rest of the novel.
Michelle Orndorff
Oct 21, 2015 Michelle Orndorff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Football is Still Like This?

I very much enjoyed this book. It says a lot about the men who sacrifice their bodies for our enjoyment and how management abuses them. Ball players of today say it's pretty much still the same.
Lesha Symons ervin
Not for those with a wan stomach. Lots a's drug use and broken bones.
May 05, 2012 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'll try not to get into too many details but there may be some mild spoilers. I really wanted to love this book. At times I was really digging it and felt like it was taking me somewhere. I thought there was significant redemption building. Instead it tried to make me hate professional football and be as much of a downer as possible. I don't need a happy ending but this just seemed sour for sour's sake. I guess you never know until you read them.
Mitch Gage
Dec 15, 2015 Mitch Gage rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun, funny and visceral read. Currently on a bit of a football jag and this did the trick nicely. The ending was a bit of a kick in the nuts though.
Oct 23, 2015 Cody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was interesting and different from my usual reads.
Jan 12, 2008 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before steroids, amphetamines and narcotics were athletes' favorite performance enhancers.

This book is a "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" for the football set. A very fun and well-written book that TC turned me on to a while back.
David Ward
Oct 02, 2015 David Ward rated it liked it
North Dallas Forty by Peter Gent (Total Sports 1973)(Fiction – General). An aging receiver with a hippie bent gets hurt, is medicated, but plays anyway as ordered by the team. This was perceived by the general public in the early 1970's as “shocking” and as some kind of an expose or indictment of the business practices of the NFL. My rating: 7/10, finished 1974.
Nov 03, 2013 Doug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although it was published in the 60's, North Dallas Forty was way ahead of its time in terms of exposing the use of pain killing drugs teams would use to get their players on the field when they otherwise could not play due to injuries. Devastating and funny too. Phil Elliot is one of my favorite characters in literature, sort of a James Dean in cleets.
May 01, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
North Dallas 40 ranks right up there with some of the best books ever written about professional football. The characters in this book are able to invoke a full range of emotional responses from the reader. Gent is an extremely interesting writer and this book will be what he was remembered for. (originally posted on
Shane Paxton
I was going to give this book 3 stars until the last couple pages of the book when the ending happened so unexpectantly and was poorly executed. Overall I liked the football portions of the book. The off field stuff seemed way too exaggerated and not possibly realistic.
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George Davis Peter Gent was a Michigan State University basketball player and National Football League wide receiver turned novelist.

Gent resided in Bangor, Michigan at the time of his death from a pulmonary disease on September 30, 2011,and was working on a novel.
More about Peter Gent...

Other Books in the Series

North Dallas Forty (2 books)
  • North Dallas After 40

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