Will have strong appeal for soccer fans and observers of celebrity culture, though such readers may not enjoy the questions...

Unusual and affecting reflection on the toxic combination of achievement, addiction and celebrity culture, as embodied by the decline of one-time soccer champion George Best (1946–2005).

In 2003, as a neophyte reporter, Daily Telegraph feature writer Walden (Harm’s Way, 2008) received an unusual assignment: to “babysit” Best on behalf of their mutual employer, the newspaper that published Best’s ghostwritten column. Sometimes referred to as the “Fifth Beatle” for his youthful charisma in his prime, Best’s fortunes had suffered due to a severe alcohol dependency and a failed marriage that played out in the tabloids. After tracking Best down in Malta, Walden and her subject developed a strange friendship, with Walden playing a combination of minder and earnest conscience, as Best’s marriage faltered and he attempted to quit drinking at an expensive spa, only to give in further to it. Walden observes that Best “felt for alcohol what the glutton feels for food: it hijacked every one of his senses.” The author portrays the milieu of British celebrity journalism as fueled by mindless competitive aggression, upon which Best provides wry commentary. The grim narrative spectacle of his decline is leavened by the pair’s irreverent exchanges (Best appreciated her tart honesty) and Walden’s prose, which is often observant and strikingly original. Despite his frequently boorish behavior, including hitting his wife (the offense that finally cost him the newspaper column and its much-needed income), Walden captures Best in sympathetic, nuanced fashion. He was a bright, charismatic sportsman whose early achievements led to a confused life of excess, always in the public eye.

Will have strong appeal for soccer fans and observers of celebrity culture, though such readers may not enjoy the questions Walden’s tale implicitly raises.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60819-942-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview