A captivating and often moving book with something to offer readers interested in health, athleticism, neuroscience, and the...

ENDURE

MIND, BODY, AND THE CURIOUSLY ELASTIC LIMITS OF HUMAN PERFORMANCE

A meticulously researched profile of the physiology and psychology of athletes.

Even readers with the most sedentary of lifestyles will find something intriguing in this book from Outside columnist Hutchinson (Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?: Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise, 2011, etc.), formerly of Runner’s World. The narrative is part ode to athleticism with a focus on distance running, part examination of current fitness research, and part fascinating exploration of the mysteries of the mind-body connection. The author has a true gift for writing compelling sports stories and combining them with deft analyses of cutting-edge research that never get lost in jargon or become oversimplified. To the contrary, Hutchinson reinforces the uncertainty of current controversies in modern exercise science without forcing his readers to pick a side. Specifically, he investigates what is at the heart of the limits of man’s endurance: is it the body’s mechanistic breaking point or the brain’s upper threshold of belief? He answers with descriptions of counterintuitive exercise studies that show, for example, that an athlete’s performance improves when a thermometer is doctored to read the temperature as a few degrees cooler than reality or when she swishes a sports drink in her mouth but doesn’t actually consume any extra energy from it. Alongside those facts, the author’s passion animates his own personal stories as well as those of others, such as the tragic death of a high school football player during a hot summer practice and a woman whose traumatic brain injury made her into one of the most elite ultra-endurance runners of all time. As Malcolm Gladwell writes in the foreword, Hutchinson “writes about the mysteries of endurance as a student of the science, a sports fan, and a keen observer of human performance—but also as a participant.”

A captivating and often moving book with something to offer readers interested in health, athleticism, neuroscience, and the human condition.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-249986-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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A quirky wonder of a book.

WHY FISH DON'T EXIST

A STORY OF LOSS, LOVE, AND THE HIDDEN ORDER OF LIFE

A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Doesn’t dig as deep as it could, but offers a captivating look at the NBA’s greatest era.

WHEN THE GAME WAS OURS

NBA legends Bird and Johnson, fierce rivals during their playing days, team up on a mutual career retrospective.

With megastars LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and international superstars like China’s Yao Ming pushing it to ever-greater heights of popularity today, it’s difficult to imagine the NBA in 1979, when financial problems, drug scandals and racial issues threatened to destroy the fledgling league. Fortunately, that year marked the coming of two young saviors—one a flashy, charismatic African-American and the other a cocky, blond, self-described “hick.” Arriving fresh off a showdown in the NCAA championship game in which Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans defeated Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores—still the highest-rated college basketball game ever—the duo changed the course of history not just for the league, but the sport itself. While the pair’s on-court accomplishments have been exhaustively chronicled, the narrative hook here is unprecedented insight and commentary from the stars themselves on their unique relationship, a compelling mixture of bitter rivalry and mutual admiration. This snapshot of their respective careers delves with varying degrees of depth into the lives of each man and their on- and off-court achievements, including the historic championship games between Johnson’s Lakers and Bird’s Celtics, their trailblazing endorsement deals and Johnson’s stunning announcement in 1991 that he had tested positive for HIV. Ironically, this nostalgic chronicle about the two men who, along with Michael Jordan, turned more fans onto NBA basketball than any other players, will likely appeal primarily to a narrow cross-section of readers: Bird/Magic fans and hardcore hoop-heads.

Doesn’t dig as deep as it could, but offers a captivating look at the NBA’s greatest era.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-547-22547-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009

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