A fitting tribute to a great, memorable pitcher.

TOM SEAVER

A TERRIFIC LIFE

A vivid portrait of one of modern baseball’s legendary players.

Tom Seaver (1944-2020) was small as a boy but made up for it with both athleticism and steely determination, drawing attention early. As veteran sportswriter Madden relates, a great training tool was that Seaver and a boyhood friend were each forbidden to leave their yards, so they had to throw straight to each other lest the game end. As a result, Seaver was already working on strikeouts at the age of 6. Modest and intellectually inclined—he and his teammates played bridge in the locker room to sharpen their minds—Seaver once said, “the thing I most appreciate about the game is that it is one of the few places left where a person like myself can show his individuality.” He certainly did that, and though team managers didn’t always treat him well or use him to best advantage, he raised the average for every one of his teams. Madden’s account centers on Seaver’s chase to accumulate 300 wins, which put him in the highest stratosphere of pitchers. On the infrequent occasions when he had a bad game or, more rarely, a bad season, he was fully willing to shoulder blame. As he said of a performance-related pay cut by his beloved New York Mets in 1974, “they paid me a good amount of money last year, and I didn’t pitch up that amount.” The year may not have been much, but look at 1971 and 1975, Madden suggests, and all can be forgiven. Seaver’s decline to Lyme disease–related dementia resulted in an embarrassing episode or two and, eventually, a tragic inability to recognize his fellow Hall of Famers, but the 12-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young Award winner made a brave effort. The author’s cutting conclusion is perfect: Tom Brady tried to patent the phrase but was roundly rejected, for “there was, and always will be, only one Tom Terrific.”

A fitting tribute to a great, memorable pitcher.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982136-18-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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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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Fans of Rogen will enjoy his laid-back, whimsical memoir.

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YEARBOOK

Everyone’s favorite stoner recalls his childhood, youth, and first stirrings of Hollywood success.

“My friends are thrilled when their kids don’t shit all over their floors,” writes Rogen. “As an adult, I get little to no praise for doing the same.” It’s a characteristic line; Rogen leans heavily on the seven words with which George Carlin made so much hay, with a dash of Borscht Belt shtick (“The hardest part about being Jewish is…the grandparents”) and some occasional high-concept material. The author reveals that he inherited a touch of his father’s Tourette’s mixed in with his mother’s gentleness, the blend of which resulted in a kind of easygoing ADHD best treated with lashings of marijuana. When he learned that a teenage friend had smoked pot with her brother, he asked how it felt. “It burns your throat like crazy,” she replied, to which Rogen responded, “Awesome.” Other drugs come and go in these pages—MDMA, for one, which can certainly make a pitch meeting difficult. And then there’s this: “If you’ve ever been grocery shopping while an inhuman amount of hallucinogenic mushrooms are [sic] aggressively taking over your system, you know that shit ain’t easy.” Indeed. Rogen’s not inclined to badmouth, though from time to time, his critical bone is tickled (“all the movies to come out of Project Greenlight fucking suck butt”). He also makes it clear, through encounters with the likes of Kanye West, Nicolas Cage, and George Lucas, that Los Angeles is the world headquarters of eccentricity bordering on madness. As a good Canadian, too, Rogen can’t help but get in a few digs at the rest of the country, as when he considers the reluctance of the federal government to legalize pot, “because it’s just too effective a way to persecute minorities and keep prisons full, which are things that they love to do in America.”

Fans of Rogen will enjoy his laid-back, whimsical memoir.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984825-40-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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