It's Better to Be Feared: The New England Patriots Dynasty and the Pursuit of Greatness (Hardcover)

It's Better to Be Feared: The New England Patriots Dynasty and the Pursuit of Greatness By Seth Wickersham Cover Image
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED • NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR

National Sports Media Association • Book of the Year

Kirkus Reviews • Best Nonfiction of the Year



“[H]onest, sprawling, meticulously reported, and beautifully written." —Chad Finn, Boston Globe

The explosive, long-awaited account of the making of the greatest dynasty in football history—from the acclaimed ESPN reporter who has been there from the very beginning.


Over two unbelievable decades, the New England Patriots were not only the NFL’s most dominant team, but also—and by far—the most secretive. How did they achieve and sustain greatness—and what were the costs?


In It’s Better to Be Feared, Seth Wickersham, one of the nation’s finest investigative sportswriters, presents the definitive account of the New England Patriots dynasty, capturing the brilliance, ambition, and ruthlessness that powered it. Having covered the team since Tom Brady took over as starting quarterback in 2001, Wickersham draws on an immense range of sources, including previously confidential game plans, scouting reports, and internal studies as well as hundreds of interviews gathered over two decades—with Brady, Bill Belichick, and other players, coaches, and front office personnel—to offer a behind-the-scenes chronicle of the dynasty’s three acts: the initial burst of Super Bowls from 2001 to 2005; the plateau period, 2006 to 2014, stalked by scandal, injury, and near-misses; and the second three Super Bowl victories between 2015 and 2019, which allowed the Patriots to make their claim upon history.


At every step, Wickersham demonstrates just how Belichick and Brady shaped the Patriots and reshaped the entire NFL. We are taken deep into Belichick’s tactical mind, odd work habits, and strained relationships, including his sincere but unspoken love for the players and a near fistfight with a former assistant coach. It is an illuminating depiction of a mastermind, and an organization, dedicated not only to winning but to breaking a league designed to prevent the emergence of a single, unbeatable team.


Yet it is in Wickersham’s portrait of Brady—from his childhood in northern California to his challenging years at the University of Michigan to his astonishing early superstardom in the NFL—that the source of the Patriots’ sheer endurance comes into focus. Even as he navigated an improbable rise to fame, Brady was driven by a totalizing ambition to be great, not as an endpoint, but as an ever-unfolding process. Sustaining greatness, however, came with a price. Wickersham reveals, to an extent no other journalist has, the clashes among the coach, the quarterback, and the owner, Robert Kraft—conflicts that resulted in the team’s best performances but also, eventually, the dissolution of the dynasty itself.


Raucous, unvarnished, and propulsive, It’s Better to Be Feared is an instant classic of American sportswriting, and an unforgettable study of what it takes to reach, and remain at, the summit of human achievement.



About the Author


Seth Wickersham is a senior writer at ESPN. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award and his stories have been anthologized in The Best American Magazine Writing and The Best American Sports Writing, among other places. He lives in Connecticut.

Praise For…


[A]n honest, sprawling, meticulously reported, and beautifully written portrayal of perhaps the greatest and probably the most unlikely dynasty in modern professional sports . . . [Wickersham] draws richly detailed portraits of Brady, Belichick, the dynasty’s third constant in owner Robert Kraft, and how their personalities and relationships changed through the years . . . It’s Better to Be Feared is the accounting the Patriots dynasty deserves.

— Chad Finn - Boston Globe

[A] superlative sports book full of intimate, fly-on-the-wall reporting, savvy insights and deft, page-turning writing. . . . Chapter after chapter, the author takes the reader inside the Patriots’ locker and trainers’ rooms, into coaches’ meetings, into the huddle and onto the line of scrimmage. There’s plenty of eavesdropping on the NFL owners’ contentious meetings with Commissioner Roger Goodell, too. The result is the best picture I’ve ever encountered of what the cutthroat, multibillion-dollar world of NFL football is actually like.
— Edward Kosner - Wall Street Journal

[T]he best book written about the Patriots to date. It encompasses the entirety of the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady dynasty: nine AFC championships and six Super Bowl championships. It delves deeply into the histories of Belichick, Brady, Robert Kraft, and several important figures of the dynasty: Julian Edelman, Josh McDaniels, Malcolm Butler, Peyton Manning, Roger Goodell, Eric Mangini, and many more. The good, great, bad, and worse are covered here, but not in a scandalous way, and not in a way that wastes extra time on extraneous stories. The focus of the book, and the fact that Wickersham has been covering the team and league since the dynasty’s advent, make it special.
— Boston.com, 2021 Gift Guide

The book consistently delivers that type of fly-on-the-wall access, taking the reader to seemingly impenetrable places . . . Reporters have breathlessly covered the Patriots over the years, leaving little room for new reveals, but Wickersham advances the ball with anecdotes that unpeel the personalities of the franchise’s significant figures.
— Mark Selig - Washington Post

Wickersham, with thorough reporting and the experience of covering New England’s twists and turns, manages a noteworthy feat in It’s Better to be Feared—he humanizes Brady, Belichick and the Patriots owner Robert Kraft for outsiders in a way that can be exceedingly difficult . . . Their history is told in parallel with the growth of the N.F.L. itself.

— Oskar Garcia - New York Times Book Review

[C]ontains an array of juicy details about Brady’s turbulent final years in New England . . . While those details — Belichick’s clandestine friendship with Roger Goodell, Brady approaching the 49ers at the start of his free agency — are scintillating, they are the garnish on top of a well-constructed narrative that spans the arc of 20 years . . . Wickersham's storytelling is gripping.
— Alex Reimer - WEEI

Wickersham’s fly-on-the-wall accounts are fascinating, but he’s at his best when he explains, carefully and evenhandedly, how the business of football works. . . Exemplary sports journalism that examines the front office and dueling egos as much as the gridiron.
— Kirkus Reviews, starred review

This enthralling behind-the-scenes tale of the New England Patriots is a piece of journalistic excellence . . . Patriots fans will revel in all the little-known backstories, while all football fans and readers seeking astonishing success stories will relish this, too.
— Robert St. John - Booklist

A skilled journalist analyzes the success of the NFL’s premier team over the last two decades, in both its laudable and unsavory aspects; [it] will be of interest to all sports fans.
— John Maxymuk - Library Journal

While there is no shortage of books available on the New England Patriots dynasty, Seth Wickersham’s new work may be the best yet... So good that even casual NFL fans will want to check [it] out.... Of the many books written on [Brady and Belichick], it seems that Wickersham delivers the deepest and most insightful portrait of either of them within these pages... Engaging and artfully written, drawing the reader into the events [Wickersham] describes, making them feel as if they are witnessing these meetings and games themselves.... One of the best books on the NFL to appear in recent years.
— Micah Wimmer - Fansided
Product Details
ISBN: 9781631498237
ISBN-10: 1631498231
Publisher: Liveright
Publication Date: October 12th, 2021
Pages: 528
Language: English

How to read more

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How To Read More

If you love reading, but for some reason you read less and less, know that everything is fine. It happens.
Our lives today have so many things that distract us - how can we not put books away when all these movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, social networks and endless surfing in online stores are around ...
Yes, it's really hard to resist, but you certainly can!

In this article, we want to share with you some tips to read more often and more successfully.
These are some notes and some practices that we have collected for our SUNDOG BOOKS readers club.
And maybe it will bring more books into your life!

Why do we want/need to read more?

To start reading more, you have to understand why you need it.
And you will be surprised, but your goals can be quite varied:

- for work
If you read a lot on duty, then you definitely need to speed up the process. The logic here is simple: read faster → work faster → more time for books for yourself.

- for education
you need this for your educational career or sometimes you just want to read to learn. And, with all the new alternative ways to gain knowledge (podcasts, online courses and videos), the book still does an excellent job of this task too.

- for self-development
all exercises for increasing speed, one way or another, improve cognition and memory.

- for fun
because good books always = fun!

Book lovers have an additional special goal for reading more often. If you love literature, you will understand what we mean: you want to catch everything - to follow modern literature, and not forget about the classics, look into non-fiction and children's publications. And there’s so much you want to reread! The goals are ambitious, but attainable if you read a lot.

 

And so - How to read more:
We will tell you about the methods that we use ourselves. Perhaps some will suit you as well.

 

15 minutes a day

You've probably already heard this rule: if you want to start a healthy habit, devote 15 minutes a day to it. Once upon a time, we all read irregularly, in jumps and starts. Sometimes we cannot open a book we have begun weeks ago. Therefore, you should decide to create a rule: devote at least 15 minutes a day to reading. Try reading before bed, or maybe during lunchtime, or even when you are having your morning coffee.

You will see progress immediately. You will notice that almost always your 15 minutes will grow into half an hour or more. But the most remarkable thing is that in three weeks your hands themselves will be looking for a book.

 

50 First Pages
This method advises - If the book hasn't hooked you from the first 50 pages, put it aside! Life is too short to read uninteresting books.

It is necessary to change the approach to books. At first it will be hard for you to stop and put the book down. Even if we put the book away, it will seem to reproach us from the shelf, mocking us as quitters. But in the end we should come to one simple thought: if it doesn’t hook your attention, you should not force yourself to read it.

***Fifty pages is not a bad test. Not the most objective, but definitely effective. It helps to determine whether it interests you or not, and whether to spend time on things that do not excite.

 

Reader's Diary

This should be used to improve the quality of reading - to make it more conscious. For starters, it can be a simple notebook with headings:

  • Author
  • Year of publication
  • Main characters
  • Scene
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Quotes

And, yes, a reader's diary is not a thing about quantity, but about quality. But, it can also motivate. When you open your diary and start looking at quotes (especially quotes), you immediately really want to read.

 

Maybe a Book Bet?
Several people can participate. Members of the betting group can come from friends, family, and also your colleagues. And of course you can set your own rules for participation, but we'll give you a simple example:

Everyone in the group should read and review a book over the course of a month with weekly updates. Anyone who does not finish a review buys the book for all other participants for the next month.

 

Speed Reading

Another effective way to increase the amount you read is speed reading. The logic here is simple - the faster you read, the more books you can enjoy.

*There are many online courses on speed reading, and you can also study on your own using instructional books. But, it is worth noting that this is a serious learning process that will require some effort on your part.

 

Outcome

Reading every day is quite attainable, the main thing is to try to make it a habit.
Sometimes, instead of heading for Facebook, try opening a book and soon you won’t even remember why you needed to wander around social media.
And also - don't forget about audiobooks. They are a cool way to take the load off your eyes sometimes and just immerse yourself in the story. Some books are really strong in voice acting.

 
 
 

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