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Days of Grace: A Memoir

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Days of Grace is an inspiring memoir of a remarkable man who was the true embodiment of courage, elegance, and the spirit to fight: Arthur Ashe--tennis champion, social activist, and person with AIDS. Frank, revealing, touching--Days of Grace is the story of a man felled to soon. It remains as his legacy to us all....


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Days of Grace is an inspiring memoir of a remarkable man who was the true embodiment of courage, elegance, and the spirit to fight: Arthur Ashe--tennis champion, social activist, and person with AIDS. Frank, revealing, touching--Days of Grace is the story of a man felled to soon. It remains as his legacy to us all....

30 review for Days of Grace: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Ashleigh

    I thought this was, supposed to be, about tennis... Instead, it was mostly long-winded and outdated views on issues that must have been important in the late 80s.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Perry

    What is grace? I know until you ask me; when you ask me, I do not know. St. Augustine Days of Grace: A Memoir is the most moving, honest and soul-baring memoir of a sports figure that I've read. Arthur Ashe was one of the foremost and memorable sports legends of my youth and was a trailblazer in what had been an exclusive country-club sport. I first became aware of him when I started playing tennis competitively at 10/11 years old in '75/'76 when he was ranked #2 in the World. Not being born into What is grace? I know until you ask me; when you ask me, I do not know. St. Augustine Days of Grace: A Memoir is the most moving, honest and soul-baring memoir of a sports figure that I've read. Arthur Ashe was one of the foremost and memorable sports legends of my youth and was a trailblazer in what had been an exclusive country-club sport. I first became aware of him when I started playing tennis competitively at 10/11 years old in '75/'76 when he was ranked #2 in the World. Not being born into privilege myself, back then I pulled for, as I do still today, the underdog, the one who breaks ceilings blasting off floors. In 1963, Ashe became the first African-American to be selected for the U.S. Davis Cup team. To this day, he is the only black man to win singles titles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open. It seems to me one of the only male sports (men's tennis) which, unfortunately, still hasn't been fully integrated. Ashe contracted the HIV virus via a blood transfusion received during heart bypass surgery in the early/mid 1980s and didn't disclose it publicly until 1992. He regretted not making the disclosure sooner, but during the year between his announcement and his death from AIDS-related pneumonia (shortly before reaching 50 in 2/93), his Days of Grace, he did so much good for those with AIDS, furthered public discourse on the disease, and paved the way for more tolerance of those with the disease.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ariel Rezin

    This memoir completely changed my perspective on memoirs, specifically sports memoirs. As other reviews have said, I expected it to be about Arthur Ashe's rise to fame, his great sports accomplishments. To some extent, those themes are discussed. However, it also discusses his life outside of tennis, his perspectives on life, and how AIDS changed his life. As someone who's leery of sports memoirs, and some normal memoirs, this book was a fantastic contradiction to my expectations. However, it di This memoir completely changed my perspective on memoirs, specifically sports memoirs. As other reviews have said, I expected it to be about Arthur Ashe's rise to fame, his great sports accomplishments. To some extent, those themes are discussed. However, it also discusses his life outside of tennis, his perspectives on life, and how AIDS changed his life. As someone who's leery of sports memoirs, and some normal memoirs, this book was a fantastic contradiction to my expectations. However, it did feel quite long. Unfortunately I haven't read many memoirs, specifically sports memoirs, so I can't compare it similar books.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    I think we would all agree that time is precious, and for me, why reading books of excellence is so important. If I don't finish a book feeling challenged and changed, I often ask myself "should I have been doing something else with my time?" Arthur Ashe was an extraordinary man of integrity and resilience in his fight against AIDS. This book, published in 1993 right after his death, is likely not even on shelves anymore (I couldn't even find it at my library), but it is powerful. I pray I will I think we would all agree that time is precious, and for me, why reading books of excellence is so important. If I don't finish a book feeling challenged and changed, I often ask myself "should I have been doing something else with my time?" Arthur Ashe was an extraordinary man of integrity and resilience in his fight against AIDS. This book, published in 1993 right after his death, is likely not even on shelves anymore (I couldn't even find it at my library), but it is powerful. I pray I will live my life with purpose and grace, as he did. #arthurashe #daysofgrace

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Swapp

    I was vaguely familiar with Arthus Ashe after reading, Kaffir Boy, and Open. I was primarily familiar with him in regards to being a fantastic tennis player, and being the first black tennis player to win wimbleton. I was unprepared for the fascinating view into his life. He speaks little of his tennis achievements and accomplishments, little time reviewing his rise to glory, or the accompanying praise. He spends much of the book talking about the conflict of racism that has such a huge impact o I was vaguely familiar with Arthus Ashe after reading, Kaffir Boy, and Open. I was primarily familiar with him in regards to being a fantastic tennis player, and being the first black tennis player to win wimbleton. I was unprepared for the fascinating view into his life. He speaks little of his tennis achievements and accomplishments, little time reviewing his rise to glory, or the accompanying praise. He spends much of the book talking about the conflict of racism that has such a huge impact on blacks and other people of color. His outlook on life is really interesting. He addresses growing up in segregated Richmond, politely going to the white people's tennis courts which were much better cared for, and asking for permission to play on those courts, or permission granted to play in white's only clubs and tournaments, and being politely denied due to laws that existed that insisted that it wasn't possible. And yet, he ponders that he never became involved as an advocate for blacks rights during the civil rights movement. His first involvement came as an advocate to terminate apartheid in South Africa, many years after the civil rights fight. After he became an advocate, he continued for the rest of his life. He speaks of his morality a lot. He advocated fidelity in marriage, maintaining that he stayed true to his wife the entire 15-20 year so of their marriage, which he acknowledged is not often the case in his profile sports stars. His reasoning he states, is that he considers having an affair as an act of violence against oneself and ones best interests. He is a huge advocate of families, his logic and reasoning taking in the affect that slavery had on families as one of the most devastating factors of the most devastating practice. He talks extensively on many different levels about the role of family. Most interesting to me is the way he found peace and satisfaction in his life when he was diagnosed with AIDS, transmitted by a blood transfusion, at a time when AIDS was considered so reprehensible a disease. I enjoyed that his autobiography talked about what he believed and why based on his life, and that he didn't relive his glory days. It was as if it was his last great effort at trying to educate and inspire people to live a better life. The last chapter, his last letter to his daughter, who was six when he died, is very thoughtful and admirable. I really enjoyed reading about his important life.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    From my experience, there are very few sports autobiographies that lend any credibility to the genre. Days of Grace belongs in the same category as Bill Russell's Go Up For Glory, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Giant Steps, and Jim Bouton's Ball Four, as books that by their brilliance make the existence of Boz: Confessions of a Modern-Day Antihero a little less troubling. Ashe's story, informed by his unconventional role in the civil rights struggle, a long career of political activism of behalf of oppres From my experience, there are very few sports autobiographies that lend any credibility to the genre. Days of Grace belongs in the same category as Bill Russell's Go Up For Glory, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Giant Steps, and Jim Bouton's Ball Four, as books that by their brilliance make the existence of Boz: Confessions of a Modern-Day Antihero a little less troubling. Ashe's story, informed by his unconventional role in the civil rights struggle, a long career of political activism of behalf of oppressed people in South Africa and Haiti, and the looming specter of AIDS, is told by a well-rounded, self-aware author who happens to have been a world-class athlete. Ashe the husband, father, and citizen of the world is the main character here, not Ashe the Wimbledon champion and Davis Cup captain. This book has been a favorite of mine since the first time I read it in college, and it never fails to challenge and inspire me. His is a lesson both in living and dying with integrity and dignity.

  7. 5 out of 5

    D.A. Cairns

    This was a dry - sometimes even boring -memoir: it's tone reserved and reflective as you might expect from a writer whose life would soon end. It was not funny, nor exciting,nor inspiring, but it was quite profound, and comforting. Days of Grace is the title, and 'grace' refers to the way Ashe played tennis, and more importantly, how he lived. A man of firm faith in God, though not one to satisfy the requirements of fundamentalists, Arthur Ashe demonstrates great wisdom and an understanding of th This was a dry - sometimes even boring -memoir: it's tone reserved and reflective as you might expect from a writer whose life would soon end. It was not funny, nor exciting,nor inspiring, but it was quite profound, and comforting. Days of Grace is the title, and 'grace' refers to the way Ashe played tennis, and more importantly, how he lived. A man of firm faith in God, though not one to satisfy the requirements of fundamentalists, Arthur Ashe demonstrates great wisdom and an understanding of the grace of God. The chapters on racism, and sexism and sex are particularly honest and insightful. The final chapter is a letter to his daughter, and it's quite beautiful and moving. Sports fans, in particular tennis fans will enjoy the behind the scenes revelations of the tennis champions of his era. I did't like Ashe's writing style, finding it clunky and unimaginative, but I did appreciate the honest and humility with which he wrote.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Ibarra

    Being a fan of tennis I had heard a lot about Arthur Ashe, but I really did not know too much about him. He was a really outstanding man: a black boy who lived in times when there was still segregation between blacks and whites, he had to play tennis in black-only courts; he was the first black man to win some of the most important tennis tournaments; he got a college degree which he used to promote the situation of black people; he was afflicted by severe heart problems, and in one of the surge Being a fan of tennis I had heard a lot about Arthur Ashe, but I really did not know too much about him. He was a really outstanding man: a black boy who lived in times when there was still segregation between blacks and whites, he had to play tennis in black-only courts; he was the first black man to win some of the most important tennis tournaments; he got a college degree which he used to promote the situation of black people; he was afflicted by severe heart problems, and in one of the surgeries he received a blood transfusion with tainted blood, being infected with AIDS. This is a very insightful book because I was able to understand the point of view of an educated black man who suffered of discrimination, how there were times that he felt resentful, how it was to live with AIDS and how to cope with journalists, how to announce it publicly and what it meant to his family. He is very articulate in his thoughts and I could feel myself walking in his shoes.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    My library book club chose to read this book, and I was really excited because of its high GR rating and my admiration for Arthur Ashe. I was disappointed. While I am maintaining my respect for the principaled man, I thought this memoir, written another writer, was wordy and apologetic. I would have liked to have learned more about his childhood and family and I believe that his daughter was adopted, an important bit of information I'd think. The bulk of the book was laborious explanations why h My library book club chose to read this book, and I was really excited because of its high GR rating and my admiration for Arthur Ashe. I was disappointed. While I am maintaining my respect for the principaled man, I thought this memoir, written another writer, was wordy and apologetic. I would have liked to have learned more about his childhood and family and I believe that his daughter was adopted, an important bit of information I'd think. The bulk of the book was laborious explanations why he held one opinion or another. While I agree with most of its points of view, I found the explanations either needless or tedious.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Roger Wood

    Few sports autobiographies have the credibility of Days of Grace. The elegant and eloquent Arthur Ashe guides us along his journey to the top of the tennis world, with the help Arnold Rampersad, a celebrated biographer and master of the genre. I read this book after having dinner with Mr. Rampersad in Princeton in 1996 with my then-wife. Both the meeting and book were humbling, and changed my perspectives forever.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    I am not a huge fan of memoirs, as they generally seem a little self-serving. I read this on a whim as I knew a bit about Arthur Ashe from my years in Richmond, VA. The portrait of the South and his life as a black Southerner was especially touching. Whenever I am asked about my favorite books, this one always ends up very close to the top. Wonderful reading, amazing life story.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dana DesJardins

    Reading this while the streets are once again filled with anti-racist protesters emphasizes how little has changed in the 27 years since this was published posthumously. Ashe lost his mother at age seven; had a heart attack in his late thirties, forcing his retirement from professional tennis; was the only Black tennis pro for decades; and then acquired AIDS from a transfusion during one of many life-saving surgeries. Yet I was shocked to read that despite all these losses, he confesses, "...I s Reading this while the streets are once again filled with anti-racist protesters emphasizes how little has changed in the 27 years since this was published posthumously. Ashe lost his mother at age seven; had a heart attack in his late thirties, forcing his retirement from professional tennis; was the only Black tennis pro for decades; and then acquired AIDS from a transfusion during one of many life-saving surgeries. Yet I was shocked to read that despite all these losses, he confesses, "...I see race as a burden, a grave burden, one that outweighs all the others in my life." Ashe refers here not to his skin color but to the systemic racism in this country. Despite these daunting challenges, Ashe writes frankly about sexism, being a "race man," homophobia, income disparity, discriminatory immigration policies, the lack of coherent health care, his ongoing activism, and of course, racism. Ashe makes common cause with Black people around the world: he was one of the first public figures to condemn and work actively against South African apartheid, and he was jailed after a demonstration defending Haitian boat people. Throughout, his empathy and far-sightedness prevail. His condemnation of the US's lack of universal health care could have been written today. When he loses a coaching job largely due to his principled protests, he refuses to sensationalize the decision in an interview. When a relative hints that he thought Ashe was gay, he muses that it should not matter (and remember, this was in the 1980s at the height of the AIDS crisis). Yet because of Ashe's high-minded generosity, he reflects on his life with gratitude and love. Still, he writes, "If I had one last wish, I would ask that all Americans could see themselves ... past the barbed-wire fences of race and color. We are the weaker for these divisions, and the stronger when we transcend them."

  13. 4 out of 5

    a.t.m.

    Wonderful autobiography by a courageous American. Arthur Ashe left the world a shining example of how life should be lived. He could have been a bitter man, his life cut short, by a tainted blood transfusion resulting in being infected by the HIV virus. But, instead chose to educate the world on what life is like when your day's are numbered and so little time to work on your legacy. He knew he represented people of color and he tried so hard to fight against racism in America. He was a special h Wonderful autobiography by a courageous American. Arthur Ashe left the world a shining example of how life should be lived. He could have been a bitter man, his life cut short, by a tainted blood transfusion resulting in being infected by the HIV virus. But, instead chose to educate the world on what life is like when your day's are numbered and so little time to work on your legacy. He knew he represented people of color and he tried so hard to fight against racism in America. He was a special human being, a world class tennis player and a devoted husband and father. I highly recommend this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    The life and times of Arthur Ashe from his humble beginnings in Richmond Virginia to his achievements as the number one player in the world of men's professional tennis. He tells of the challenges in his chosen profession, and the sudden impact of his lifestyle after being infected with HIV after receiving tainted blood during a heart operation. An activist for human rights, Apartheid, U.S Policy and a staunch advocate for AIDS and health care, this memoir reveals the man who used his sport afte The life and times of Arthur Ashe from his humble beginnings in Richmond Virginia to his achievements as the number one player in the world of men's professional tennis. He tells of the challenges in his chosen profession, and the sudden impact of his lifestyle after being infected with HIV after receiving tainted blood during a heart operation. An activist for human rights, Apartheid, U.S Policy and a staunch advocate for AIDS and health care, this memoir reveals the man who used his sport after his forced retirement as a platform for the betterment of mankind.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Martin Reader

    This is a great book about the later stages of Arthur Ashe’s life. While he touches on his past, most of it covers the time leading up to his diagnosis with AIDS. This was a tragic situation, resulting from a blood transfusion he received while struggling to recover from heart surgery. I thoroughly enjoyed his descriptions of his tenure as Davis Cup captain, trying to manager the personalities of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. I also enjoyed his approach to issues in tennis and life, which are This is a great book about the later stages of Arthur Ashe’s life. While he touches on his past, most of it covers the time leading up to his diagnosis with AIDS. This was a tragic situation, resulting from a blood transfusion he received while struggling to recover from heart surgery. I thoroughly enjoyed his descriptions of his tenure as Davis Cup captain, trying to manager the personalities of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. I also enjoyed his approach to issues in tennis and life, which are similar. His quiet grace backed with fierce determination are a model for all.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Neal Marcus

    A fabulous book for me to read.I have never had a black friend but wish I could have had Arthur as one.We shared a lot(literature,music,tennis,art,morals); Very special appreciation to Arnold Rampersad who Arthur sought out and who helped Arthur to write such a marvelous book! The whole book was great,but the last 2 chapters epitomized the books title wholly. I wish I had befriended Arthur in life,but I am grateful that I got to share his life by this beautiful memoir!!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ian Ragsdale

    I would never have picked this up on my own but it was given to me by a friend. I found it fascinating, if at times a tiny bit tedious. Arthur Ashe does a tremendous job of putting you in his shoes as he navigates the world as a successful black athlete and then and early AIDS sufferer. And then you read the final chapter and understand that the whole book is an attempt to allow his daughter to know who he truly is when she is old enough. Heartbreaking and inspiring.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cameron

    Must Read... Arther Ashe was a Black tennis player from the late 60's to late 70's. Ranked #1 in world for many years. He won 3 Triple Crowns. Advocate for heart health and AIDs understanding. Died of AIDs at 49 from a blood transfusion--survived by his wife and daughter. Exposed to Arther Ashe after reading Kaffir Boy. This man is a bona-fide sports hero Must Read... Arther Ashe was a Black tennis player from the late 60's to late 70's. Ranked #1 in world for many years. He won 3 Triple Crowns. Advocate for heart health and AIDs understanding. Died of AIDs at 49 from a blood transfusion--survived by his wife and daughter. Exposed to Arther Ashe after reading Kaffir Boy. This man is a bona-fide sports hero

  19. 5 out of 5

    Massanutten Regional Library

    Elizabeth, Central patron, June 2018, 2 stars: While I greatly admire Arthur Ashe, I found this memoir, written in 1992 when he knew he had AIDS, to be self-justifying and preachy. However, as a fellow book club member pointed out, he knew that if he didn't make his opinions clear at that point he wouldn't have another chance. Overall, I was disappointed in the book. Elizabeth, Central patron, June 2018, 2 stars: While I greatly admire Arthur Ashe, I found this memoir, written in 1992 when he knew he had AIDS, to be self-justifying and preachy. However, as a fellow book club member pointed out, he knew that if he didn't make his opinions clear at that point he wouldn't have another chance. Overall, I was disappointed in the book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    JulieK

    I thought this was going to be a traditional memoir, but there was very little about his early life. Instead it was more of vessel for his thoughts and beliefs as he was nearing the too-early end of his life. Poignant in that sense (especially the last chapter addressed to his young daughter), just not what I was expecting.

  21. 5 out of 5

    David Meyer

    The book provides an interesting look into the life of Ashe. I didn't realize how little I knew about his life and struggles. Don't read the book if you're looking for lots of details about tennis, but if the memoir of man using his platform to try to do good, all while being unsure how much time he would have left to make a difference in the world, give it a chance. The book provides an interesting look into the life of Ashe. I didn't realize how little I knew about his life and struggles. Don't read the book if you're looking for lots of details about tennis, but if the memoir of man using his platform to try to do good, all while being unsure how much time he would have left to make a difference in the world, give it a chance.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    Great book, great man. Anyone would do well to emulate the values, integrity and demeanor of Arthur Ashe. His chapter on the burden of race is excellent as are many other chapters and his letter to his young daughter is a treasure.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gerald Ellison

    A great book about a wonderful man of faith. A faith that carried him through racism and illness and everything in between. This tennis great was a much greater human being. This memoir is touching on so many levels. I highly recommend it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sandy III

    Incredible. I was so moved through every bit of it. What an incredible life with an enduring legacy.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christi

    Read my junior year of high school (Mrs. Arco!). Was eye-opening for sure.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Milt

    Well served.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alexander

    A hero.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    A moving, honest self-appraisal of a man who lived with dignity and had so much to offer but was taken from the his family and the world all too soon.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bob Garrison

    Outstanding autobiography of an outstanding person and representative of U.S. pro tennis. Ashe was a person who was much more than the sum of his parts.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Veronica Sutter-Handy

    Really I did not know much about Arthur Ashe before I read this book. This is a man’s dying words and reflections on life and his experiences in America. I did not always agree with Mr. Ashe, but I still found his words and experiences insightful. Arthur Ashe was an African American man who was born and raised in the south, and grew up playing tennis and would a pro tennis player. Arthur Ashe passed away in 1993.

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