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Journalist and sports reporter. Washington Post, Washington, DC, sports reporter and columnist.
War without Death: A Year of Extreme Competition in Pro Football's NFC East, Penguin Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Mark Maske is a seasoned sports columnist and reporter for the Washington Post, primarily focusing on the National Football League (NFL). Maske published his first book, War without Death: A Year of Extreme Competition in Pro Football's NFC East, in 2007.
In an interview on HailRedskins.com, Maske explained his reasons for wanting to write his first book. He stated: "I was eager to write a book, just to see if I could and how I would do. John Feinstein, my former [Washington] Post colleague and good friend, helped me with the process side, showing me how to write a book proposal and getting me in touch with an agent. The book that I originally envisioned was a follow-the-money football book based around some agents, sort of the buying and selling of players that could be a real-life Jerry Maguire or a football version of Entourage. The publishers all told my agent that they didn't want a book with NFL agents as the main characters. No one likes them, they said, so no one would buy the book. I don't necessarily agree with that, but what do I know? One editor, Scott Moyers at Penguin, came back with an idea to spin my proposal around and try to tell the same story through some teams, and follow it through the season that follows. We picked the NFC East teams because those were the teams that I knew the best, and the four markets had some die-hard fans who might be book buyers."
Maske also discussed the process of writing the book, particularly noting how long it took and how much information went into the project. Maske remembered that "it seemed like forever. My process was that I just wrote and wrote and wrote as the Offseason and then the season went along. I must have written 400,000 words for a book that ended up being about 115,000 words." Maske reminisced: "I got to the end and said, ‘If only I'd known in the beginning what I know now, this would have been a lot easier.’"
In War without Death, Maske uses the metaphor of football players as soldiers fighting a war against the opposing team, also referred to as soldiers or warriors. Although many viewers find the likening to be overly self-important, Maske shows how this metaphor is somewhat accurate, choosing to focus on the generals or politicians of this sports war, the team management, owners, union leaders, scouts, agents, and coaches. Maske takes a business approach to the game, showing the inner workings of several teams, including the Washington Redskins, the Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Giants, and the Dallas Cowboys.
Cecil Johnson, writing in PopMatters, remarked that "there is much to delight any fan of NFL football in War without Death. But NFL fans who are also businesspersons will find it a particularly enriching read, especially those situated in Dallas; Washington, DC; Philadelphia; and New York and their environs." Johnson added the "he offers clear examples of how the salary cap works in layman's language and how owners get around it to pay" the players they want on their teams. A contributor to Publishers Weekly found that Maske too frequently gives only "breezy accounts of games and interviews." The same contributor mentioned that any type "of personal touch is missing far too often in this ambitious but anticlimactic book." Booklist contributor Wes Lukowsky said that War without Death is "a superb book that belongs in every serious football collection." Lukowsky appended that younger "followers of the NFC East, like their football-fan parents, will be enthralled by this year-in-the-life account."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 2007, Wes Lukowsky, review of War without Death: A Year of Extreme Competition in Pro Football's NFC East, p. 49.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 18, 2007, Jon Caroulis, review of War without Death.
Publishers Weekly, July 9, 2007, review of War without Death, p. 48.
Booktour.com,http://www.booktour.com/ (April 17, 2008), author profile.
HailRedskins.com,http://www.hailredskins.com/ (August 20, 2007), author interview.
PopMatters,http://www.popmatters.com/ (September 13, 2007), Cecil Johnson, review of War without Death.