The best books about institutional hypocrisy

Mark A. Salter Author Of Sins of the Tribe
By Mark A. Salter

Who am I?

Like all of us, I was raised on promises, and now I’ve veered off to another perspective. I love football. I played in high school, college, and for a brief time, in the NFL (didn’t make the final roster!) Philosophy has been a life-long pursuit, but I didn’t find what I was looking for: the truth. Except for the existentialists, most of it is a mere history of how mankind thought. But philosophy has taught me how to examine the essence of important issues. That’s why I wrote a book about tribalism, because to me, tribalism is the strongest dynamic in humanity and morality is subordinate to tribalism.


I wrote...

Sins of the Tribe

By Mark A. Salter,

Book cover of Sins of the Tribe

What is my book about?

Sins of the Tribe explores the impact of intense tribalism and its resulting dehumanization in a setting that’s popular, wildly flawed, and hiding in plain sight: college football. Sins of the Tribe also examines these hard truths: morality is subordinate to tribalism and the need for domination through violent proxies is real. 

The books I picked & why

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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

By Ben Fountain,

Book cover of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

Why this book?

I loved this book because it fearlessly profiles a certain type of hypocrisy in our culture through the experiences of Billy Lynn and his fellow soldiers of the Bravo Squad. They’re reluctant war heroes on an unwanted victory tour stop at a Dallas Cowboys game. I identified with Billy as an everyman with a challenging background. I felt it was a powerful juxtaposition of the price we ask some to pay to support our way of life that is cluttered with banality.

I could feel his pain and grief over the losses he’s experienced, and I wanted him to be cared for with empathy and understanding. Instead, I was repulsed by what our culture has to offer; using Billy and his fellow soldiers as props to celebrate ourselves.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

By Ben Fountain,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

His whole nation is celebrating what is the worst day of his life

Nineteen-year-old Billy Lynn is home from Iraq. And he's a hero. Billy and the rest of Bravo Company were filmed defeating Iraqi insurgents in a ferocious firefight. Now Bravo's three minutes of extreme bravery is a YouTube sensation and the Bush Administration has sent them on a nationwide Victory Tour.

During the final hours of the tour Billy will mix with the rich and powerful, endure the politics and praise of his fellow Americans - and fall in love. He'll face hard truths about life and death,…


Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream

By H.G. Bissinger,

Book cover of Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream

Why this book?

When I read Friday Night Lights, I felt like a mirror was held in front of us as a culture. I loved how thorough the immersion was of the Texas high school football life. It was like Bissinger asked for an unguided tour and it was granted, and he wrote about what he saw. I later read that the people of Odessa were horrified by the book and my response to them would be to look a little closer. Sports are great; I played, I watch, I enjoy. But to become obsessive to the point of glorifying boys when they win and leaving them shattered if they don’t makes me feel a little gross.

Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream

By H.G. Bissinger,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Friday Night Lights as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 25th anniversary edition of the #1 New York Times bestseller and Sports Illustrated 's best football book of all time, with a new afterword by the authorReturn once again to the timeless account of the Permian Panthers of Odessa,the winningest high-school football team in Texas history. Socially and racially divided, Odessa isn't known to be a place big on dreams, but every Friday night from September to December, when the Panthers play football, dreams can come true.With frankness and compassion, H. G. Bissinger unforgettably captures a season in the life of Odessa and shows how single-minded devotion to the…


The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football

By Jeff Benedict, Armen Keteyian,

Book cover of The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football

Why this book?

I originally read this as research for my own novel and I’m so glad I did. Not all of it is about scandal, in fact my favorite parts highlighted how sports can be used to bring out the best in us. In fact, that’s what sports did for me. I loved that it also sheds light on the machinations we don’t see that are used to drive the sport. And, yes, I was horrified by some of the stories: horrified by the sexual assaults and furthermore by the rationalizations and the coverups. The feeling I had reading The System: we all want to dress ourselves in virtue, but all we really want is to win and for some, there is no price that’s too high.

The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football

By Jeff Benedict, Armen Keteyian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The System as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year 

NCAA football is big business. Every Saturday millions of people file into massive stadiums or tune in on television as "athlete-students" give everything they've got to make their team a success. Billions of dollars now flow into the game. But what is the true cost? The players have no share in the oceans of money. And once the lights go down, the glitter doesn't shine so brightly. Filled with mind-blowing details of major NCAA football scandals, with stops at Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Missouri, BYU, LSU, Texas A&M and many more,…


Champions Way: Football, Florida, and the Lost Soul of College Sports

By Mike McIntire,

Book cover of Champions Way: Football, Florida, and the Lost Soul of College Sports

Why this book?

I’m conflicted, two of my three kids went to Florida State and this book holds nothing back about the crimes and sins that have taken place at FSU. I felt like I was witness to a crime scene; the crimes were academic, cultural, and truly criminal. I completely believe that our higher education system is critical to our country, yet what takes place at these schools is an outrage. This is a book written by a talented journalist who took me on an objective tour of the hypocrisy we are willing to allow for our tribe to dominate.

Champions Way: Football, Florida, and the Lost Soul of College Sports

By Mike McIntire,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Champions Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With little public debate or introspection, our institutions of higher learning have become hostages to the rapacious, smash-mouth entertainment conglomerate known, quaintly, as intercollegiate athletics. In Champions Way, New York Times investigative reporter Mike McIntire chronicles the rise of this growing scandal through the experience of the Florida State Seminoles, one of the most successful teams in NCAA history.

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his Times investigation of college sports, McIntire breaks new ground here, uncovering the workings of a system that enables athletes to violate academic standards and avoid criminal prosecution for actions ranging from shoplifting to…


I Am Charlotte Simmons

By Tom Wolfe,

Book cover of I Am Charlotte Simmons

Why this book?

Back to fiction. I loved how everyone, including the adorable young woman from a hardscrabble background, Charlotte, took their own big bite of hypocrisy pie. Everyone, except for one character, did it and I’m not going to spoil it for you (it was the star basketball player.) I think I’ve read everything Tom Wolfe had ever written and this is his finest work. This novel took me on a ride, I was there, the emotions I felt reading it were visceral and real. At the end, the feeling I had was—what the hell is college all about? And then I answered myself: it’s four years of summer camp and I can’t wait until my youngest graduates.

I Am Charlotte Simmons

By Tom Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Am Charlotte Simmons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A scandalous exploration of elite undergraduate life from the author of The Bonfire of the Vanities

Dupont University: the Olympian halls of learning housing the cream of America's youth, the roseate Gothic spires and manicured lawns suffused with tradition... or so it appears to beautiful, brilliant Charlotte Simmons, a sheltered freshman from Sparta, North Carolina, who has come here on a full scholarship. But Charlotte soon learns that for the upper-crust coeds of Dupont, sex, status, and kegs trump academic achievement every time.

As Charlotte encounters Dupont's elite, she gains a new, revelatory sense of her own power, that of…


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