"Sporting Gentlemen: Men's Tennis from the Age of Honor to...

EDITOR'S CHOICE

July 30, 1995|By Michael Pakenham

"Sporting Gentlemen: Men's Tennis from the Age of Honor to the Cult of the Superstar," by E. Digby Baltzell. New York: The Free Press. 420 pages. $30

For anyone who reads for pleasure and is interested in tennis, civility, social mores, the putative deterioration of Western values, aggressiveness, cupidity or simply grand stories, this is an irresistible book. Witness one of hundreds of gems: "The petty hypocrisies of the ancient amateur regime in tennis have now been replaced . . . by a ruthless moneyed game played by adolescent dropouts who are apparently ungovernable in spite of an ever-increasing number of bureaucratic regulations backed a fearful and divided authority." Not a house is left unpoxed, but every one is infected gracefully, and somehow lovingly.

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