PERSONAL: Born in St. Louis, MO; married Jen Fisher (a school teacher); children: Aidan, Katie, Lia, Zoe. Education: Attended Medill School of Journalism and University of Notre Dame.
CAREER: Freelance writer, journalist. Anchorage Times, Anchorage, AK, former sportswriter; Outside magazine, former senior editor, current contributing editor.
AWARDS, HONORS: Book of the Year Award, Sporting News; two-time National Magazine Award nominee.
Hardball: A Season in the Projects (nonfiction), Putnam (New York, NY), 1994.
Waking Samuel (novel), Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor to Best American Sports Writing, and to periodicals, including Outside, Sports Illustrated and Life.
ADAPTATIONS: Hardball was adapted as a film starring Keanu Reeves.
SIDELIGHTS: Daniel Coyle, a contributing editor to Outside magazine, is the author of both fiction and nonfiction works. His first book, Hardball: A Season in the Projects, describes his experiences as a coach for the little league in Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing projects, a "70-acre failed social experiment," as Time critic John Skow described the place. The area houses 7,000 people in eighty buildings, and has far more liquor shops than it has grocery stores and churches combined. "Cabrini is best known for its gunfire, which … the residents discuss as offhandedly as the weather," noted Steve Gietschier in the Sporting News. Coyle and a group of other white "yuppies" volunteered, in 1991, to be assistant coaches on a little league team in the projects, the Near North/African American League. Sponsored by corporations and harkening back to African roots, the teams on the league had strange name combinations, such as the Northern Trust Massai and the Mutual Life Pygmies. Coyle's book follows the First Chicago Near North Kikuyus, "an endearing collection of woofers, goofers, complainers, excusemakers, big talkers, strike-out artists and wavers at fly balls," according to Skow. Coyle focuses on the kids involved, rather than on the coaches; as Gietschier noted, baseball "is the real hero of this terrific book." Ultimately, the kids come to play the game on their makeshift diamond, despite the gunfire and the surrounding turf battles between rival gangs over drug-distribution territory. Gietschier further noted that the little league project gave the participants "the chance to be children." A Publishers Weekly contributor found Coyle's story "heartwarming,"
Coyle turns to fiction with Waking Samuel, part mystery and part a novel of redemption. Set in Seattle, Washington and Alaska, the novel features a young nurse, Sara Black, whose life has been devastated by the death of her son, Luke, two years earlier. The boy died in a car accident with Sara at the wheel, and she has not been able to forgive herself. Her marriage is on hold and she goes through the motions of being a nurse, until working with an amnesiac patient begins to reawaken her emotions. Slowly Sara begins to crack through the young man's foggy memory to discover his name, Samuel, and his last memory: being on a remote Alaskan island. Sara is drawn deeper and deeper into Samuel's mystery, coming out of her own emotional paralysis in the process. A Publishers Weekly contributor found the book "poignant" and "brooding," while a Kirkus Reviews critic called the novel "a nicely constructed emotional thriller." Booklist writer Kevin Canfield deemed Waking Samuel "moving" and "an impressive debut."
Coyle returns to nonfiction for his 2005 title, 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. Moving his family to Spain in 2004, Coyle spent a year following American cyclist phenomenon Armstrong during his preparations for his seventh Tour de France race. In the resulting book, Coyle paints a picture of Armstrong as a complex personality. There is the Armstrong who is a cancer survivor and inspiration to people around the world for his bicycle-racing career. And there is also the Armstrong who has a hard edge to him, an unforgiving nature toward those he feels are his enemies. There is also the Armstrong who is a CEO but also a micro-manager of his cycling team, determining everything from training routes to the brand of coffee served. Coyle features friends and rivals alike in his book.
Coyle's biographical look at this champion won a great deal of critical acclaim. Sports Illustrated contributor Austin Murphy called Lance Armstrong's War "lively and insightful." For a Publishers Weekly reviewer, the book is "honest, personal and passionate, with plenty to chew on for fans and novices alike." Similarly, Allen St. John, writing in the Washington Post, found it a "fine new book," while San Francisco Chronicle reviewer Dan Giesen called it a "marvelous tale." Houston Chronicle contributor Michael Hardy deemed the book "compulsively readable," while Philadelphia Inquirer reviewer Michael D. Schaeffer concluded that Coyle, "a wordsmith of uncommon talent with an eye for the telling detail, has given us a meticulously reported, beautifully crafted book."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 15, 1993, Mary Carroll, review of Hardball: A Season in the Projects, p. 726; October 1, 2003, Kevin Canfield, review of Waking Samuel, p. 298.
Boston Globe, July 7, 2005, Brion O'Connor, review of 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.
Dallas News, July 2, 2005, Leslie Snyder, review of Lance Armstrong's War.
Dallas Star-Telegram, July 1, 2005, Bryan French, review of Lance Armstrong's War.
Houston Chronicle, June 24, 2005, Michael Hardy, "Cycle of Fame," review of Lance Armstrong's War.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2003, review of Waking Samuel, p. 1031.
Philadelphia Inquirer, June 29, 2005, Michael D. Schaeffer, review of Lance Armstrong's War.
Publishers Weekly, December 20, 1993, review of Hardball, p. 62; August 11, 2003, review of Waking Samuel, p. 252; June 6, 2005, review of Lance Armstrong's War, p. 56.
San Francisco Chronicle, July 3, 2005, Dan Giesen, review of Lance Armstrong's War.
Sporting News, March 28, 1994, Steve Gietschier, review of Hardball, p. 9.
Sports Illustrated, July 4, 2005, Austin Murphy, review of Lance Armstrong's War, p. 28.
Sunday Telegraph (London, England), July 31, 2005, Marcus Berkmann, review of Lance Armstrong's War.
Time, January 31, 1994, John Skow, review of Hardball, p. 109.
Washington Post, July 21, 2005, Allen St. John, review of Lance Armstrong's War.
Bicycling.com, http://www.bicycling.com/ (September 12, 2005), Joe Lindsey, review of Lance Armstrong's War.
BookNoise, http://www.booknoise.net/ (September 11, 2005), review of Lance Armstrong's War.
VeloNews, http://www.velonews.com/ (May 23, 2005), Neal Rogers, review of Lance Armstrong's War.