Commentary

Over the top

What's a good sports book title without a heavy dose of hyperbole?

Updated: December 18, 2009, 12:33 PM ET
By Amanda Angel | ESPN The Magazine

This story appears in the Dec. 28 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

The "Greatest Story Ever Told" is about Jesus himself, but these days you'd half-expect to find that title on a bookseller's sports shelves. A quick glance at the genre shows many true, real and seemingly impossible epic tales of triumph, glory and agony. Way, way too many, actually. Here, our survey of the most hyperbolic sports book titles currently in print.

SOUL SEARCHERS

The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul
Fierce Heart: The Story of Makaha and the Soul of Hawaiian Surfing
Four Days to Glory: Wrestling With the Soul of the American Heartland
Crashing the Borders: How Basketball Won the World and Lost Its Soul at Home
Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball

IT'S WAR

Major: A Black Athlete, a White Era and the Fight to Be the World's Fastest Human Being
War Without Death: A Year of Extreme Competition in Pro Football's NFC East
Lance Armstrong's War: One Man's Battle Against Fate, Fame, Love, Death, Scandal and a Few Other Rivals on the Road to the Tour de France
War As They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and America in a Time of Unrest

FALLS FROM GRACE

The Fearless Harry Greb: Biography of a Tragic Hero of Boxing
One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey "The Kid" Ungar, the World's Greatest Poker Player
Where They Ain't: The Fabled Life and Untimely Death of the Original Baltimore Orioles, the Team That Gave Birth to Modern Baseball
Ring of Hell: The Story of Chris Benoit and the Fall of the Pro Wrestling Industry
On Rocky Top: A Front-Row Seat to the End of an Era

THE GREATEST

Arnie and Jack: Palmer, Nicklaus, and Golf's Greatest Rivalry
The Perfect Season: Why 1998 Was Baseball's Greatest Year
Sachin: The story of the World's Greatest Batsman
Mine's Bigger: Tom Perkins and the Making of the Greatest Sailing Machine Ever Built
Breaker Boys: The NFL's Greatest Team and the Stolen 1925 Championship
A Terrible Splendor: Three Extraordinary Men, a World Poised for War, and the Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played
Monster of the Midway: Bronko Nagurski, the 1943 Chicago Bears, and the Greatest Comeback Ever
The Bad Guys Won! A season of Brawling, Boozing, Bimbo Chasing, and Championship Baseball with Straw, Doc, Mookie, Nails, The Kid, and the Rest of the 1986 Mets, the Rowdiest Team Ever to Put on a New York Uniform -- and Maybe the Best

FOREVER MORE

Hank Aaron: And the Home Run That Changed America
The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever
Turning of the Tide: How one Game Changed the South
The Glory Game: How the 1958 NFL Championship Changed Football Forever
The Dominators: The Remarkable Athletes Who Changed Their Sport Forever
The Real All Americans: The Team That Changed a Game, a People, a Nation
Jacques Plante: The Man Who Changed the Face of Hockey
America's Girl: The Incredible Story of How Swimmer Gertrude Ederle Changed the Nation
Glory Road: My story of the 1996 NCAA Basketball Championship and How One Team Triumphed Against the Odds and Changed America Forever

LEGEND HAS IT

Fatal Mountaineer: The High-Altitude Life and Death of Willi Unsoeld, American Himalayan Legend
My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom and Insights of a Road Racing Icon
The Queen of the Ring: Sex, Muscles, Diamonds and the Making of an American Legend
The Horse God Built: The Untold Story of Secretariat, the World's Greatest Racehorse
Andre the Giant: A Legendary Life
Man o' War: A Legend Like Lightning

WORLD SHAKERS

Rome 1960: The Summer Olympics That Stirred the World
The Girls of Summer: The U.S. Women's Soccer Team and How It Changed the World
Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World
Miracle Ball: My Hunt for the Shot Heard 'Round the World

PERFECTION

The Roger Federer Story: Quest for Perfection
A Season on the Mat: Dan Gable and the Pursuit of Perfection
Geno: In Pursuit of Perfection

REDEMPTION SONGS

Breaking Back: How I Lost Everything and Won Back My Life
The Long Snapper: A Second Chance, a Super Bowl, a Lesson for Life
Gladiator: A True Story of 'Roids, Rage and Redemption
Bottom of the Ninth: Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel and the Daring Scheme to Save Baseball from Itself
Vindicated: Big Names, Big Liars and the Battle to Save Baseball

Amanda Angel is a contributing researcher for ESPN The Magazine.