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Off the Bookshelf

Reviewed by Lisa Tozzi, November 12, 1999, Books

A Sense of Where You Are:

Bill Bradley at Princeton

by John McPhee

Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 222 pp., $12 (paper)

When young Bill Bradley's teachers, coaches, and classmates were asked to predict the Princeton basketball phenom's future, the answer that most frequently rolled off their tongue was: He will be governor of Missouri. The only dissenters were those who believed Bradley's star would rocket him all the way to the White House. Most any presidential hopeful would take great pains to burn documents describing his college years, but Bradley has never had a secret past. A Sense of Where You Are was first published in 1965 -- before Bradley's pro ball career, before his tenure as a U.S. Senator, and long before his current run for the presidency. Thirty-four years later, the fun of reading McPhee's recently reissued loving tribute lies largely in the opportunity to read between the lines of McPhee's prose, to look for similarities between Bradley's basketball techniques and political styles and to search for deeper meaning in decades-old anecdotes. And best of all, it's a portrait of a politician as a young man that doesn't make you cringe with second-hand embarrassment.

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