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A superb work that paints the resilient athlete as a fierce competitor and an unforgettable sportsman.

Heartfelt biography of a Texas football star whose life was cut short by cancer.

Inspired by interviews with coaches, teammates and friends and a 1971 autobiography, award-winning sportswriter Dent (Twelve Mighty Orphans: The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football, 2007, etc.) tracks Freddie Joe Steinmark’s early years and burgeoning career with the Texas Longhorns. From his childhood in 1950s Denver, Colo., Steinmark’s interest in sports flourished, carefully groomed and profoundly encouraged by his father, a self-made athlete turned cop who’d sacrificed a professional baseball career to raise his son. “A small child with fragile bones” yet dubbed “a born winner” by early mentors, Steinmark’s diminutive stature proved a surprisingly suitable match for his steely, fearless determination on the field. Dent budgets his narrative wisely, proffering equal parts sports achievement and personal accomplishment in tracing his subject’s incremental ascent to greatness as he earned the admiration of fellow teammates like star quarterback Roger Behler. As the Longhorns’ “golden boy” key safety, the “155-pound peach-fuzz kid” exhibited drive and tireless perseverance on the gridiron, making him a respected letterman under Coach Darrell Royal. However, soon after a game-saving field performance, Steinmark suffered a crushing blow when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer that would eventually claim his life at 22. Dent also includes the story of Steinmark’s shyly romantic courtship of high-school sweetheart Linda Wheeler, an intensive love that endured throughout their tenure together at the University of Texas. The author also bolsters the biography with a fond foreword from current Texas head coach Mack Brown, who, to this day, continues to memorialize Steinmark’s legacy by bringing his photograph along to the team’s away-games.

A superb work that paints the resilient athlete as a fierce competitor and an unforgettable sportsman.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-65285-2

Page Count: 307

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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