Although many readers already know the outcome of the 1985 season, Donnelly does a good job of building suspense. A solid...




A look back at the 1985 Major League Baseball season as the New York Mets were unexpectedly poised to dominate while the usually mighty New York Yankees seemed vulnerable.

Although of interest primarily to devoted baseball fans and/or New Yorkers, Donnelly’s (How the Yankees Explain New York, 2014, etc.) mostly chronological review might hold fascination for general readers as a psychological study of multiple intriguing characters in the sport. These include Yankees’ owner George Steinbrenner, a stern businessman often characterized by his narcissism, cruelty, and inability to recognize the truth; Yankees’ manager Billy Martin (the Billy Brawl of the book’s title), who could not control his temper despite his advancing age; and, as dramatic contrast to Martin, New York Mets’ manager Davey Johnson, who wanted to win just as much as his counterpart but who understood the importance of being respected by his players rather than feared or hated. Throughout the narrative, Donnelly also offers insights into the dispositions of key players, especially the mercurial Mets trio of pitcher Dwight Gooden, outfielder Darryl Strawberry, and outfielder Lenny Dykstra. The author mostly resists the temptation to flash ahead beyond the 1985 season, but he gives some attention to the later personal tragedies of Gooden, Strawberry, and Dykstra. Regarding the Mets who did not self-destruct later, catcher Gary Carter and first baseman Keith Hernandez are portrayed in especially compelling detail. On the Yankees’ side, one of Donnelly’s most well-fleshed-out characters is first baseman Don Mattingly, who played his entire career for the team and is currently the manager of the Miami Marlins, and the author also captures the essence of famously eccentric outfielder Rickey Henderson. Pitcher Ed Whitson, a lesser-known Yankee, is perhaps the most persecuted player in the narrative, and readers are quite likely to feel sympathy for his treatment.

Although many readers already know the outcome of the 1985 season, Donnelly does a good job of building suspense. A solid choice for both Mets and Yankees fans.

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4962-0553-7

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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

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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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