A worthy read for the gun lover or for someone looking to better understand military life.


Navy SEAL Shooting


A comprehensive introduction to the art of precision shooting.

Sajnog (How to Shoot Like a Navy SEAL, 2013, etc.) is a retired Navy SEAL who spent the bulk of his adult life as an elite firearms instructor; he helped develop the program currently used for training Navy SEAL snipers. The author covers everything one could imagine as relevant, including training methods, tactics, and equipment with helpful images explaining proper form. The rigor and comprehensiveness of these sections is commendable, though to be expected given Sajnog’s background. What the reader might not expect is an extended discussion of a shooter’s proper “mindset,” which demands focus, commitment, even a sense of principled purpose. A key concept is “virtuosity,” or the disciplined mastery of a particular skill through constant practice. While obviously an instructional manual, the book also gives a welcome aperture into the military mindset. While the counsel regarding “How To Live Like a Warrior” can be maddeningly macho—“Grow a set of NUTs (nonnegotiable, unalterable terms) and live by them”)—a life devoted to honor, courage, and sacrifice is richly articulated nonetheless. Also, amidst the sometimes–heavy-handed bravado, are reminders that soldiers live in perilously close contact with their mortality: “You need to be able to shoot effectively first or that cool new light is only going to help your teammates find your corpse.” The book’s range is surprising and includes a fascinating discussion of the neuroscience behind muscle memory, furnishing insight into the way the human brain learns through repetition. Sajnog strays beyond his field of expertise, dispensing nutritional advice—carbs are the enemy—that is both tangential and dubious. Also, we see far too many close-up photographs of the author donning sunglasses and holding a big gun. This book is primarily useful to people who use guns for a living and obsessive gun aficionados. Very few people need to use weapons as proficiently as a Navy SEAL, and this book won’t magically transform anyone into a top soldier. However, it still offers a gripping illustration of military life from someone who has lived in the rarified air of its upper ranks.

A worthy read for the gun lover or for someone looking to better understand military life.

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-943787-00-5

Page Count: 386

Publisher: Center Mass Group, LLC

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.


A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.


A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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