John Tarrant fought against a sporting establishment that held him hostage in what could have been one of the great...

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THE GHOST RUNNER

THE TRAGEDY OF THE MAN THEY COULDN'T STOP

The lonely fight of a long-distance runner.

A brief, failed career in boxing earned John Tarrant (1932–1975) £17. In the middle of the 20th century, that paltry sum meant that he was no longer an amateur in the minds of the world’s sporting hierarchy. Documentary filmmaker Jones uncovers Tarrant’s star-crossed fight against those authorities in his quest to pursue competitive long-distance running, his true love. Tarrant was obsessive. He doggedly and even admirably fought capricious and seemingly vindictive British amateur sporting officialdom in his quest to have his amateurism restored—something they fully had the capacity to do. In many ways, Tarrant is a sympathetic figure. His lifelong struggle to run legally—his willingness to run unsanctioned in official races earned him fame and respect from fans and competitors alike and garnered him the nickname “The Ghost Runner”—was sandwiched around a childhood spent in a Dickensian children’s home and an early and tragic death from cancer. But his obsession also made him a lousy employee and a selfish husband and father. Except for a few occasions when he gets in his own way, Jones tells the story well, albeit in a British idiom that may occasionally ring odd to American readers. His book serves not only to uncover Tarrant’s largely forgotten story, but also to remind readers that the amateur model of sport was oftentimes a hypocritical morass that victimized poor and working-class athletes while protecting a privileged class of sportsmen.

John Tarrant fought against a sporting establishment that held him hostage in what could have been one of the great international ultra-distance-running careers. Jones restores his legend while revealing his very human frailties.

Pub Date: March 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-60598-413-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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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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