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The Hustle: One Team and Ten Lives in Black and White
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The Hustle: One Team and Ten Lives in Black and White

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  180 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
The experiment was dreamed up by two fathers, one white, one black. What would happen, they wondered, if they mixed white players from an elite Seattle private school - famous for alums such as Microsoft's Bill Gates - and black kids from the inner city on a basketball team? Wouldn't exposure to privilege give the black kids a chance at better opportunities? Wouldn't it op ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published December 21st 2010 by Bloomsbury USA
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The Hustle is one of those books that will linger in my heart and mind. Once started, I was mesmerized until the last page was read. The description said "The result is a complex, gripping, and, at times, unsettling story." In my opinion, this book far exceeded that. This is a book about far more than what happened to 10 boys on a basketball team.

Perhaps because of the author's journalistic background, there is a curious lack of condemnation in the book, even when describing difficult, heart-wr
Koby Ryckman
May 15, 2015 Koby Ryckman rated it really liked it
The Hustle by Doug Merlino can be described in one word...great. The beginning of the book was about 10 young kids (7 black 3 white) that were almost like a project to see if inner city kids play and private school kids play could mesh and become champions. No one believed they could do it until they were cutting down the nets and were given the trophy. But that wasn't the most amazing part of the book, and don't let the inside cover of the book fool you because so much of this isn't about baske ...more
Megan Palasik
Feb 19, 2011 Megan Palasik rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book as a first-read giveaway.

This book was not what I expected. I thought this would be your stereotypical story of a group of boys brought together by some controversy (in this case race) to play some sports team (basketball) and no one thought they could do it but in the end they are champions. The end. Well, that story is only the first 80 pages of this book.

The rest of the book is devoted to the author, who was one of the players, going back and interviewing his teammates and fin
Feb 25, 2013 Jenny rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I heard about this book through one of my high school classmates on Facebook. It intrigued me because I went to Garfield high school from 1986 to 1990, as did some of the people in the book. I knew some of them, not as friends, but I knew who they were. Lakeside was the main high school Merlino focused on, but he did mention Garfield and the surrounding area.

Merlino did a great job explaining the atmosphere in and around Garfield during the late 80s. I remember it as "two Garfields" like he said
Having known one of the subjects since his arrival at Seattle Prep, I was introduced to this book, and motivated to read it by my love for, one of its central characters. While my expectations were not at all low, they were limited by my anticipation of reading about both a dear friend and a place and era I, too, grew up in. While I got both of those things in droves while reading The Hustle, the unexpected enjoyment comes from just how much bigger a story was told here. Mr. Merlino does a maste ...more
May 18, 2011 Flannary rated it it was amazing
This is a great book, and, if you grew up in Seattle - a must read. Busing to schools in the 80s? Check. Crack epidemic in the 80s? Check. Racial issues in Seattle and gentrification of the CD? Check check. The crazy thing is, I don't know this author but I have had encounters with two of the people he writes about in his book, while my brother Matt played ball at Prep with two of the guys on the team.

The only issue I had with the book was that he would latch on to so many different topics thro
Feb 03, 2011 Joy rated it really liked it
I received this book as part of GoodReads firstreads giveaway. I knew this book was going to be heavy, but I didn't realize it would be so dense. In addition to the story of his former teammates, Merlino includes a lot of information backing up his story. I learned about history of African Americans in Seattle, what a hedge fund is, the rise and fall of crack cocaine, issues of diversity in private school, integration in public schools.

While I had some trouble keeping track of all the characters
Ken Hunt
Jun 05, 2015 Ken Hunt rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Having a daughter in both the Seattle AAU basketball scene and a Seattle private high school student, I chose the book expecting a deeper Seattle based "Hoosieresque" feel good story of sports, kids, race.....etc. Instead The Hustle is a more troubling, yet accurately authentic exploration of the lives and society surrounding this great experiment of a mixed race AAU boys team in the 80's. Merlino's historical and sociological analysis intertwined with the examples of real lives helps provide co ...more
Feb 11, 2011 Kelly rated it really liked it
I am very pleased that I won this book. The Hustle is not typical of a book that I would normally read, but something in the description peaked my interest. I am happy to say I was not disappointed. The Hustle is definitely a Good Read!

Merlino explores the issues of race, class, and education in Seattle, both on a personal and societal level. Merlino's writing style is engaging and held my interest throughout. I really liked that the book was not a memoir looking back on the experimental basketb
Jul 16, 2011 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, meridian
When he was fourteen years old, Mr. Merlino played on a fairly unique basketball team. Half of the players were white, from the prestigious Lakeside School, the elite Seattle private school which Bill Gates had attended. The other half were black, from Seattle's Central Area, a predominantly poor and African-American part of town. Of course, the team's experience wasn't just about basketball. It was about crossing barriers and expanding horizons. Despite being from extremely different background ...more
Feb 26, 2011 Emily rated it liked it
I received this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, requesting it because the description made me assume it would be akin to a novelization of the kind of movie that features a rag-tag group of youngsters who come together to form a winning athletic team and learn life lessons along the way, with the added bonus of checking in on them 20 years later and finding out how they turned out. However, the book is filled with many digressions about the history of Seattle, cocaine a ...more
Andrew Walczak
Aug 11, 2011 Andrew Walczak rated it it was amazing
I re-discovered the library this summer, thankfully, because during the re-discoverey process I stumbled upon The Hustle. I stopped by the library the day we left for our annual Tahoe trip with the intention of checking out a few Bill Bryson books. Our local Glen Park branch did not have any Bill Bryson, so I left the travel section, browsed through the new releases, and picked up The Hustle.

Point of clarification. Ever since I demolished the original Friday Night Lights book in 1991, the "A se
Jan 29, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book as part of a first-reads giveaway.

This book was so much more than what I expected it to be. I expected a simple inspirational sports story. It was inspirational in places, but I found The Hustle to be more complex than that. It was even heartbreaking at times. The author, Doug Merino reflects on the issues of race and class in Seattle and beyond. The book follows the lives of both white and black teammates on an interracial basketball team. As the author reconnects with and
Muneer Uddin
Sep 03, 2011 Muneer Uddin rated it liked it
When I picked up this book, I expected a pure sports book. Even though that is not what this book was, it was engaging enough to not leave me disappointed.

In the first part of the book, Merlino recounts his time on an integrated kids' basketball team in 1986 Seattle. He weaves the narratives of the games and time the team spends together with the history of Seattle's founding and early history. The book's transition takes place when Merlino learns of the murder of one of his teammates in 1991. T
Ryan Mishap
An excellent exploration of how the history and reality of white supremacy, racism, and class effect the lives of blacks and whites growing up in the Northwest United States. The gathering of a team of basketball players from two different racial and economic areas of Seattle in 1986 may set the stage, but this is far from a sports book, the summer season they played given minimal time.

Instead, Merlino uses this sports hook to lead us through the history of Jim Crow to the Civil Rights era, rig
Feb 14, 2011 Larisa rated it really liked it
I received this book through Goodreads' First Reads program. It's an interesting, thought-provoking book, and well worth reading. I do wish, however, that it was better organized.

Merlino provides a lot (sometimes too much) of local and national history to give context to the individual lives and struggles of the 10 boys (now men) who were part of an experimental integrated high school basketball team in Seattle in 1986. Sometimes these history-lesson interludes meld seamlessly with the more pers
Nicholas Beck
Apr 11, 2011 Nicholas Beck rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Doug Merlino has a tremendous writing ability which is shown throughout the book. This story about a championship basketball team in Seattle and how their lives were influenced by the experience of the integrated team. Initially while reading this book, I felt all the facts about Seattle were a little heavy, yet as I went along, those details seemed to be as important as the actual story. The best thing about this book for me was that I could really feel the author's passion for the people he wr ...more
John Brugge
Apr 24, 2015 John Brugge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is much less the story of an integrated high-school basketball team than I thought it would be. Or at least it is less the conventional type of feel-good team story, and more the story of about a dozen boys and men whose lives intersected for a few years in high school, connecting them just enough to affect all of their lives in different ways. At the same time, Doug Merlino is telling the complex story of economics, race, privilege and circumstances that make these peoples' lives only part ...more
Feb 26, 2014 Libriar rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I read this for book club and look forward to the discussion as this book has lots to discuss. The story of the basketball team and what happened to the players after was fascinating. The examination of diversity issues in private schools was also fascinating. At times though the author dove too deeply into explaining other historical elements that broke up the flow of the book. (I personally didn't need a chapter explaining black history to me.) Overall though the topic was quite int ...more
Mar 14, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it
This is an interesting book. The author was part of a basketball team in the 1980s that brought together some affluent white students from the suburbs of Seattle with some low-income African American students from the city. The book is an exploration of this integration "experiment" and its consequences for all the players.

I loved the concept of this book, especially in light of the absence of political will for integration efforts today. But as a whole, the book didn't fully work for me. I LOV
Jul 26, 2015 Peggy rated it it was amazing
The author tells the story of playing on a basketball team of half-white, half-black boys in high school in Seattle in the 90s. He reconnects with as many teammates as possible and they reunite for a basketball game as adults. This is a really interesting book filled with intense race relations and history of Seattle's neighborhoods. Great read.
Lori Tatar
Feb 04, 2011 Lori Tatar rated it really liked it
I will never look at basketball the same way again. Before this book, it was always a game, and just a game. I will also never look at race relations the same way again. With the data Merlino provides, it seems very much to me like we are moving backwards rather than forwards with integration. I honestly had no idea how skewed our behaviors were, both individually and as a society. The next time I hear someone touting "diversity", I will be sure to examine things more closely rather than just ta ...more
Dec 31, 2013 Anne rated it liked it
5 kids from the Central District of Seattle and 5 kids from Lakeside private school form a basketball team in 1986. They won some sort of district award and then kind of drifted apart. The author, who was one of those 10 kids, decides to try to figure out what happened to all the kids on the team. It's a pretty fascinating read from the viewpoint of one who lives in Seattle and works in the school system as the book talks pretty frankly about how different the lives of Lakeside students are/were ...more
Apr 17, 2015 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I read this as part of the 2015 reading challenge. I now know much more about Seattle race relations than I did before! I've realized that I don't know enough about nonfiction books to really tell if what I'm reading is good. I liked the book.
Danielle Meier
Dec 23, 2012 Danielle Meier rated it liked it
Merlino gives the readers a succinct and simplified history of Seattle that parallels the lives of members from a high school basketball team, which composed of members from both the north and south end of Seattle. It does help to break down the Frasier-white-washed-Starbucks-drinking-Microsoft-base stereotype of Seattle. But it was hard for me to get through, until the last third. Additionally, Merlino did his best to incorporate Seattle history where appropriate, however there were times that ...more
May 23, 2011 T rated it it was ok
Set in Seattle, true story about race, discrimination, educational opportunities and the lives of a group of two sets of kids merged to form a basketball team and the opportunities or lack thereof that the kids encounter, contrasting the white kids against the black kids. The author was one of those kids and spent much time researching the history of the city and the schools and talking with his former teammaters - one of whom was killed and another incarcerated.

There's a lot of history and back
Feb 28, 2011 Sean rated it really liked it
The Hustle starts with what seems like a simple concept but really turns into an epic story. As a kid, the author was part of a mixed race/class/income basketball in the 80's. 20 years later, he tracks down the team to see the effects of this social experiment. That's the framework for the story, but really it's more about race/class/income in Seattle, acting as a microcosm for the country over the years.

It was a very interesting story, and I only took off a star because I wanted more stories ab
Jun 15, 2013 Julia rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up to understand more about Seattle, the city I live in. Wow. I got so much more than that. Not only is the racial devide between black and white explained from the early 20th century to about 2009, the voices and stories in the book make is hard to put down. This book is about growing up male, about developing quality eduction for all, about basketball, Lakeside, diversity, religion--but mostly just plain old complex race and class. He manages to go broad and wide on this Ame ...more
Oct 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
The book follows 10 boys' lives--half black, half white, from opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum--years after they played together on a basketball team in 8th grades. The account provides an informative look at Seattle social history regarding race and class issues, revealing we may still have a long way to go as a city. The writer is a journalist who has conducted thorough research yet menages to offer a personal perspective as one of the 10 boys who was on the basketball team chronicl ...more
Jul 12, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating book. He deals with hugely important issues--race, class, public and private education, among others. Because it's set in Seattle, I found it even more interesting. I had some trouble with his writing; he includes a lot of information about many topics and loses focus at times, so I felt it could have been more cohesive. That said, I would recommend this book to anyone who lives in Seattle, particularly those who will be sending their kids to school here.
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I’m a journalist and writer who has contributed to or worked at news organizations including Slate, Legal Affairs, Men’s Journal, Wired, the Seattle Times, the Budapest Business Journal and the PBS show Frontline/World. I received master’s degrees in journalism and international affairs from UC Berkeley. I live in New York City.
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