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Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper

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As a boy, Stephen J. Dubner's hero was Franco Harris, the famed and mysterious running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers. When Dubner's father died, he became obsessed -- he dreamed of his hero every night; he signed his school papers "Franco Dubner." Though they never met, it was Franco Harris who shepherded Dubner through a fatherless boyhood.

Twenty years later, Dubner, an accomplished writer, sees Harris on a magazine cover. His long-dormant obsession comes roaring back. He journeys to Pittsburgh, certain that Harris will embrace him. And he is...well, wrong.

Told with the grit of a journalist and the grace of a memoirist, Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper is a breathtaking, heartbreaking, and often humorous story of astonishing developments. It is also a sparkling meditation on the nature of hero worship -- which, like religion and love, tells us as much about ourselves as about the object of our desire.

261 pages, Paperback

First published January 21, 2003

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About the author

Stephen J. Dubner

17 books1,201 followers
Stephen J. Dubner is an award-winning author, journalist, and TV and radio personality. In addition to Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics, his books include Turbulent Souls Choosing My Religion, Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper, and the children’s book The Boy With Two Belly Buttons. His journalism has been published in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Time, and has been anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing, The Best American Crime Writing, and elsewhere. He has taught English at Columbia University (while receiving an M.F.A. there), played in a rock band (which started at Appalachian State University, where he was an undergrad, and was later signed to Arista Records), and, as a writer, was first published at the age of 11, in Highlights for Children. He lives in New York with his wife, the documentary photographer Ellen Binder, and their children.

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Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 reviews
Profile Image for Doug Sullivan.
119 reviews1 follower
March 4, 2014
The premise of the book seemed interesting. But the truth of the matter was difficult to digest, as the author courageously bares his hero-worshipping soul. A little weird and obsessive? Oh yeah. But his journey is nonetheless fascinating and full of twists and turns. Worth the read but not without discomfort.
Profile Image for Meghan.
681 reviews
Shelved as 'to-read-a-h'
August 2, 2009
I thought the premise of this book sounded interesting. How would meeting your childhood idol change you? And what if they turned out to not be the kind of person you had idealized for all those years?
Author 6 books2 followers
March 31, 2022
I could barely get through this I found it pretty boring. Only read it because one of my friends LOVES it. Chapter 13 was actually pretty great and I was surprised by the fantastic presentation of the pragmatically beautiful Jewish perspective on hero worship. I do love the concept of a person meeting a childhood hero--who actually IS a truly quality person! But who won't give him the relationship he wants--and grappling with hero worship and what we are trying to gain from it.
Profile Image for Emmett Grogan.
Author 5 books32 followers
December 21, 2022
I read this one quite some time ago, but it stuck with me, enough that I recommend this book to anyone interested in a well-crafted memoir, even if you don't know too much about the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s.

Rest in Peace, Franco Harris.
22 reviews
February 8, 2019
A poetic mix of biography, memoir, and what it means to have a hero.
Profile Image for Chi Dubinski.
797 reviews1 follower
November 12, 2013
Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris was Dudner’s childhood idol. He decided to track down the retired football player to ask his cooperation on a book about the fan-sports star relationship. Dudner was a published author, and convinced Harris to spend a day with him in Pittsburgh. Harris was polite but distant, and the two did not become best buddies instantly, as in Dudner’s long-held fantasy. The author discovered that sometimes reality does not measure up to long-held childhood dreams
Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 reviews

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