Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Review: The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky and Death

Have you noticed how every new nonfiction book has a long involved title? It's always something pithy, followed by a colon and then some elaborately long descriptor. The Emerald Mile: the epic story of the fastest ride in history through the heart of the Grand Canyon. An Invisible Thread: the true story of an 11-year-old panhandler, a busy sales executive and an unlikely meeting. Lawrence in Arabia: war, deceit, imperial folly and the making of the modern Middle East. The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky and Death. Poker, Beef Jerky and that's a title! How could you not be intrigued by that?

Purportedly, The Noble Hustle is about Colson Whitehead's quest to compete in the World Series of Poker in 2011. However, it really is an odd mixture of memoir, travelogue, self-reflection and (only-a-little bit) poker manual. You don't need to play poker to appreciate Whitehead's musings and mutterings. Just go along for the ride as Colson, along with his friends, his coach and his personal trainer, navigates the world of high stakes poker.


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