A terrific resource for March Madness fun.




A joyous outpouring of numbers aimed to soothe the jangled nerves of those caught up in the great, late-winter college basketball tournament.

Sams has marshaled a dizzying array of statistics in a variety of original concatenations to help navigate March Madness—the annual college basketball championship series. The “madness” is a result of the sheer number of teams at play that are slowly winnowed down throughout the month. Sams wants to make some sense of the process, perhaps glean a theme or pattern; if nothing else, he will have tidy histories of team performance that may reveal tendencies. This book is a very straightforward item, mostly bare of narrative (all of which is contained in its brief, explicatory introduction). Its purpose is to present team statistics since 1985 (the first year with a field of 64 teams), which he has arranged alphabetically. For each winning team of the 64 invited to the tournament, Sams provides scads of information, including records for each round of play, team success (or failure) depending on how highly they were ranked going into the tournament and how well teams did against opponents from different regions throughout the country. Even readers without a jones for statistical analysis can get caught up in the almost hallucinatory experience of trying to make something of all the figures. And thanks to the bare-bones presentation, each team—from the Air Force Academy to Xavier, from big guns to derringers—exerts its own fascination. Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and the like have pages of material, while Long Island, Long Beach and Liberty pass quietly under the radar.

A terrific resource for March Madness fun.

Pub Date: July 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-1478129769

Page Count: 250

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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Salutary fare for readers who, like the authors, believe that “we should all know a few basics.” (Nonfiction. 12-15)


A new compendium of helpful skills, projects, puzzles, quotes, historical anecdotes, and other miscellany that add quality to life…if not necessarily length.

“The accumulation of knowledge is one of life’s subtle pleasures,” writes the co-author of The Dangerous Book for Boys (2007), collaborating now with his sons instead of his brother Hal. In that tongue-in-cheek spirit they offer up a fresh array of rewarding reading—beginning with detailed, practical instructions for picking a lock followed by an account of the experiences of Ernest Shackleton that highlights his extraordinary leadership skills. Tucking in well-placed photos or diagrams, they go on to recommend poems to memorize, describe select famous world empires and how to make lasagna, and, just to prove that the title is not mere hyperbole, suggest numerous ways of provoking “Interesting Chemical Reactions” with easily available materials. For what it’s worth, the authors seem to have tested all of these activities themselves, and they add cautionary notes based on their experiences. Many of this import’s U.K.-specific entries have been Americanized, but some, such as how to get a shotgun or wire an electric plug have not and may be of less use (not to say even more “danger”) on this side of the pond. With very rare exceptions the historical incidents, figures, and cultural defaults are white and Eurocentric, but at least girls willing to disdain the title and brave the pervasive male gaze are not specifically discouraged from harvesting what they might.

Salutary fare for readers who, like the authors, believe that “we should all know a few basics.” (Nonfiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-285797-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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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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