Although not for the casual fan—if those exist in boxing anymore—students of the sport will find plenty to chew on.

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NO WAY BUT TO FIGHT

GEORGE FOREMAN AND THE BUSINESS OF BOXING

An account of a punch man–turned-pitchman and the business in which he made his name.

A two-time heavyweight champion of the world and Olympic gold medalist, George Foreman (b. 1949) has led a fascinating life in and outside of the ring: a poor child who became a rich man; an overweight man and a world-class athlete; a devoted man who has been married five times; a sports commentator; a reality show subject and sitcom actor; and, of course, a home-shopping network star who sold a staggering number of meat cookers. Most pertinently, he went toe-to-toe with some of the best pugilists in the history of a quintessential American sport. In his first book, Smith (Sport Management and History/Nichols Coll.) approaches his subject in a scholarly manner, and readers receive such conclusions as, “He had not yet achieved the ‘emotional invulnerability’ of a soul aesthetic even if he looked the part,” and are regularly referred to more than 50 pages of footnotes. Unquestionably, the author did his homework, including research into declassified government documents, and he takes readers to far-flung locales, including Zaire in 1974 for the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" with Muhammad Ali. “Like a matador,” writes Smith of the fight, “he circled the ring, using his fists and his words to manipulate Foreman into a position for the estocada. Foreman looked to gore him, but he had been weakened by seven rounds of Ali’s physical and verbal banderillas.” In addition to Foreman’s bouts, the author also offers detailed (sometimes overly so) examinations of how those fights came to be, illustrating the nature of the sport—what Foreman says is “truly a gangster’s game”—more than providing a nuanced picture of the man.

Although not for the casual fan—if those exist in boxing anymore—students of the sport will find plenty to chew on.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4773-1976-5

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Univ. of Texas

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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