A fresh but dispiriting spin on an old sports story: money corrupts—and lots of money corrupts absolutely.


A Season in the Abyss


Sportswriter Tuohy (Larceny Games: Sports Gambling, Game Fixing and the FBI, 2013, etc.) presents, in depth, the seamy world of football gambling.

Sports are betting games, and football is no different. Tuohy, who has written about sports for many publications, including Vice, here effectively brings to light what he sees as the illusory nature of football’s vaunted integrity. Financially strapped, amateur-status college players generate significant money for vested interests, so, to the author, it hardly seems hypocritical when they accept rewards under the table. But Tuohy’s biggest bugbear is the National Football League, which presents a squeaky-clean image to the world. The NFL says it doesn’t condone gambling, but such talk is meaningless, the author says, when gambling is legal and vigorous in Nevada. Tuohy admits that there’s “no record” of the biggest, most shadowy operators. But the records of police departments, the FBI, and investigative reporters offer clear evidence of an army of bookies ready to service bettors and organized crime: “Bookies are the foot soldiers of this illegal empire,” writes Tuohy. “They make the wheels turn, grinding those profits into the mob’s coffers.” They also may generate some $80 billion a year in unlawful bets, he says. His book also has much to report on the ruinous fallout from gambling, including addiction, players missing a block or faking an injury for payola, and the consequences of repeated concussions. Overall, Tuohy, who’s written at length about sports gambling in the past, is an excellent Virgil for this inferno. What makes his history of football wagering particularly pungent is that it comes in the wake of so many other football-related scandals, such as those involving physical abuse, cheating, and brain trauma. His tone is tough and common-sensical throughout, and he writes at times like he’s talking around a cigar: one “legendary oddsmaker,” he says, “was pinched by the feds” before he could hoodwink any more “noobs.”

A fresh but dispiriting spin on an old sports story: money corrupts—and lots of money corrupts absolutely.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-98-890112-4

Page Count: 274

Publisher: Mofo Press LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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