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

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Rodale Books, May 1, 2006 - Education - 370 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

But 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

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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


Jacques Bailly 80 121
The Pressure
The Field Narrows

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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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