Real men the ones who like to read will welcome the arrival of The Annotated Godfather: The Complete Screenplay. Film historian Jenny M. Jones takes control of this project in marvelous fashion. We get the entire shooting script of the original film, plus deleted scenes, cool sidebars on how the film was adapted from the book, behind-the-scenes tidbits on cast and crew, continuity goofs and obvious bloopers, and a series of introductory essays that consider the enormous production undertaking. There are tons of screenshots and production stills here as well, which, along with the text, combine to make readers feel like they're almost experiencing the actual film. But what emerges most is the genius of Francis Ford Coppola, who comprehensively used both right- and left-brain functions to brilliantly bring the novel to life through a mix of canny screenwriting, zealous attention to endless details and a courageous approach to dealing with his bottom-line-conscious financial bosses and the powerful ensemble of players and creative talent under his reins.
GIMME THE BALL
This one was overdue. After their previous (and fabulous) showcases for football and baseball, Sports Illustrated now gives us The Basketball Book. The format is gloriously similar: hundreds of astonishingly good color and black-and-white photos from the SI archive, interlaced with informative essays and profiles by topnotch journalists. The focus here, however, is a tad skewed, and up for criticism. Unlike the prior series entries, which focused only on the men's pro game, the coverage here includes the college game and also the WNBA. Nothing wrong with that in theory, but certainly the college game (both male and female) is deserving of its own volume, and here it gets overwhelmed by the imposing shadow of the NBA. Plus, the WNBA coverage smacks of tokenism, with only a handful of its major players represented.
On the plus side, there is something about basketball photography that seems even more dynamic than its sporting counterparts, possibly because the photographers can get so close to the action. The results are often breathtaking, both in style and historical importance: an overhead view of Shaquille O'Neal jamming one through the hoop; a coral-tinged portrait of a brooding Wilt Chamberlain (c. 1965); a dramatic shot of an outstretched Dennis Rodman lunging desperately for a loose ball; a delightful photo of basketball twins Tom and Dick Van Arsdale during their college playing days at Indiana; and movingly meditative facing-page glimpses of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen looking like African gods. There's trick photography here as well for example, a multiple exposure of John Stockton all over the court at once, and a fascinatingly fun bi-fold center insert that lines up 29 of the great ones by height in descending order (ladies included), from Manute Bol (7'7 ) to Muggsy Bogues (5'3 ). The browsing extras are endless: decade-by-decade rundowns of the best players, college and pro; a declension of famous on-court strategies as devised by coaches from Nat Holman to Bobby Knight; and satisfying visual sidebars.
DETAILS MAKE THE MAN
Some of us guys may not dress as sharply as we'd like to, yet there's something to be learned by all in Details Men's Style Manual: The Ultimate Guide for Making Your Clothes Work for You. Daniel Peres and the editors of the award-winning Details magazine first offer some handy reminders about the rules of style, then run down a list of the classic items each guy should have (a classy overcoat, two white shirts, a simple black belt, etc.). The remainder of the coverage offers descriptions and attractive photos of contemporary clothing items, from shirts, pants and blazers to shoes, accessories and (yes) underwear. Thrown in along the way are tidbits of menswear history, regional considerations and tips on how to pack smartly. There's even a how-to on tying a bowtie, something most of us guys are clueless about.