American Bee: The National Spelling Bee and the Culture of Word Nerds

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Rodale, May 16, 2006 - Education - 384 pages
2 Reviews

What the bestselling Word Freak did for Scrabble, this riveting narrative now does for the National Spelling Bee. Here is a captivating slice of Americana--part sporting event, part absorbing human drama, and part celebration of the magic of words.

Every spring in the nation's capital, after a starting pool of 10 million kids narrows to 250 finalists, America's top young spellers face off in a nail-biting contest. So electric is the drama that millions of viewers tune in to watch ESPN's live telecast

prBut this national obsession is much more than a sporting story--and this first-ever narrative nonfiction book about the National Spelling Bee immerses the reader in unique subculture, portraying the endearing fraternity of brilliant, eccentric young word nerds who vie for a gold trophy, a hefty check, and a glorious moment of national fame.

Author James Maguire, who like the contestants is an inveterate word nut, captures the agony and glory of this singularly American event. He profiles the top five spellers across the country, exploring their hopes and dreams--and strategies for winning--as they prepare for their moment in the spotlight. American Bee takes readers behind the scenes at the National Bee, providing a narrative thrill ride as the tension mounts round by round.

 

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User Review  - pbadeer - LibraryThing

This book started out strong, and its first chapter as well as a couple of chapters in the middle (particularly the one regarding the development of the first printed dictionaries) were spectacularly ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Helm - LibraryThing

I'll save everyone some time on this one. To summarize: "(insert name), a (insert age)-year-old from (insert town), did well in the competition despite having (insert adversity). The child of (insert ... Read full review

Contents

The Pressure
3
The Field Narrows
15
Is This as Good as Hollywood Can Make It?
29
THE FOLK TRADITION THE AMERICAN SPELLING BEE FROM
51
The Birth of the Modern Bee
68
The Media Age
87
CHAMPIONS PROFILES
95
Nupur Lala 99
102
The Future of Spelling
182
FIVE TOP SPELLERS COMPETE FOR GLORY AND FAME
189
Katharine Kerry Close
209
Samir Patel
226
Jamie Ding
241
Aliya Deri
258
Word List Creation
274
THE SHOWDOWN THE 2005 NATIONAL SPELLING BEE
283

Ned Andrews 94
115
Jacques Bailly 80
121
Barrie Trinkle 73
130
THE STRANGE HISTORY OF ENGLISH SPELLING OR WHY ITS
139
The New American Vernacular
160
The Spellers Step Up
304
The Heart Pounds
327
EPILOGUE
357
NOTES
365
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

James Maguire has written on a broad array of topics, from pop culture to television and human-interest stories. He is the author of the cultural biography, Impresario: The Life and Times of Ed Sullivan, and his work appeared in Wired and on the About network. On his better days, he can spell words like rijstaffel and boeotian without using spell check. He divides his time between Baltimore and New York City.

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