Lazarus’ solid, unflashy reporting is celebratory without being worshipful, and his study of what made a winning Washington...

HAIL TO THE REDSKINS

GIBBS, RIGGINS, THE HOGS, AND THE GLORY DAYS OF D.C.'S FOOTBALL DYNASTY

Hail to the…well, Washington, back in the days when its football team’s management made better decisions and its players turned in better results.

Before their decadeslong doldrums and an ongoing controversy over their unseemly name, the Washington Redskins delivered an “unprecedented championship run,” as freelance sportswriter Lazarus (Best of Rivals: Joe Montana, Steve Young, and the Inside Story behind the NFL's Greatest Quarterback Controversy, 2012, etc.) puts it. That run, lasting from 1981 to 1992, was the result of several perfect-storm forces that included a notable roster of players, exemplified by the 1991 team, which lost only 2 of 19 games, and then not by much, with a 16.94-point average scoring differential that no other championship team has matched. Another contributing factor was the presence of legendary coach Joe Gibbs, who accorded his players respect while demanding their best. “The 1991 Washington Redskins,” Lazarus exults, “were Joe Gibbs’s masterpiece: a team with a stellar passing game, a brutal running attack, the best offensive line in history, and a defense that sacked, stripped, or suffocated the opponent every week.” One of Gibbs’ contributions was to break the unsubtle color line that kept African-American players from the captain’s position. As Lazarus observes, up to 1977, only one African-American player had started a postseason game anywhere in the NFL. Another was to de-emphasize the money aspect of the game, and though of course money figures prominently in professional sports, Gibbs spent it uncommonly wisely, not throwing lavish sums at big-name free agents but instead building a roster from the ground up. “I’m a very average person who loves what I do and works hard at it,” Gibbs said with characteristic modesty in a line that might serve as a rebuke to the players, managers, coaches, and owners who have followed.

Lazarus’ solid, unflashy reporting is celebratory without being worshipful, and his study of what made a winning Washington team click will inspire both nostalgia and yearning among fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-237573-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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