IN 1999 Dan McGraw took leave from his post as a Fort Worth-based senior editor at U.S. News and World Report and headed for his football-crazy hometown of Cleveland—ostensibly to write about the return of the Browns to the NFL but ultimately to escort his cancer-stricken father to a graceful death. McGraw discovered the truths that reveal themselves in such situations: Dying is hard, but tears and laughter help even if just for a short while. McGraw is marvelously frank, and the result is a loving homage to his late father nicely meshed with slices of life from the McGraw family. The Browns’ travails are well documented, but sports have seldom seemed more trivial than when viewed cheek by jowl with Dick McGraw’s terminal illness. It is ironic that McGraw’s memoir, though centered on his father’s death, is in more ways than he suspects a book about himself. If he is no longer Dick McGraw’s son, then he must ask (and answer) the question: Just who is he? First and Last Seasons is funnier than anyone could expect—less tragic than comic. And though it’s uneven in places, every word rings true.
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