For die-hard Lasorda or Dodgers fans only.

I LIVE FOR THIS!

BASEBALL’S LAST TRUE BELIEVER

A lightweight biography of former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, from Los Angeles Times columnist and ESPN contributor Plaschke (Plaschke: Good Sports, Spoilsports, Foul Balls and Oddballs, 2002).

With the help of Lasorda, Plaschke chronicles the beloved Dodger’s life and career, from his humble beginnings as a poor child in Norristown, Penn., to his career as a left-handed pitcher, to the position which solidified his legacy—Hall of Fame manager of the Dodgers. Plaschke portrays Lasorda as a rotund, likable, noncerebral leader who loved his job, the Dodgers and food. The author goes to great lengths to explain that Lasorda was an incredibly inspirational speaker and witty storyteller. But Plaschke hamstrings this characterization with descriptions of the manager’s run-of-the-mill speeches—such as Lasorda “inspiring” a pitcher to throw strikes by telling him, in no uncertain terms, that he needed to throw strikes—and corny jokes. Although Lasorda managed some of the Dodgers’s greatest heroes—Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser, among many others—here he passes up a worthwhile opportunity by spending little time describing their great careers with the Dodgers, aside from taking what he thinks is due credit for their successes. Mike Piazza—one of the most beloved Dodgers of the past 20 years—merits little more than a mention, as Lasorda merely points out that he was the man responsible for identifying the talent that so many other scouts and managers ignored. Ultimately, the book suffers from Plaschke’s attempt to simultaneously portray Lasorda as both a player’s manager who would never say an unkind word about a member of the team, and a tough-as-nails field general who would never back down from anyone and who would, if necessary, use his fists to make his points. Still, there’s no denying that Lasorda decorated his trophy case with plenty of hardware, including two World Series titles and, after departing the Dodgers as manager and against long odds, a gold medal in baseball at the 2000 Olympics.

For die-hard Lasorda or Dodgers fans only.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-618-65387-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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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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