A must for the bookshelf of any Jewish sports fan.




A collection of essays about the most influential Jews in sports history.

New Republic editor Foer (How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, 2005) and New Republic staff writer Tracy present a diverse collection of Jewish athletes celebrated by Jewish authors. Many of the 50 athletes included—e.g., Hank Greenberg, Sandy Koufax, Sid Luckman, Mark Spitz—will be familiar even to non-Jewish sports fans, while others—table-tennis star Marty Reisman, Nazi-era German fencing champ Helene Mayer, kung-fu instructor Harvey Sober and “the Ben Franklin of Competitive Eating,” Don Lerman—will not. The list of contributors is also distinguished, with several Pulitzer Prize winners, Ivy League professors, novelists and even former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. The essays range from standard profiles to personal reminiscences. Most, but not all, of the athletes are American. In addition to Joshua Cohen’s piece on Mayer, there is Simon Schama’s fascinating essay about English pugilist Daniel Mendoza, David Bezmozgis’ profile of Soviet strongman Grigory Novak and Timothy Snyder’s piece on Austro-Hungarian author Max Nordau, whose speech to the 1898 Second Zionist Congress called on Jews to develop their muscles to overcome weakness. This theme of athleticism counteracting the stereotype of the Jew as weak victim runs through many of the essays, though it may be slightly undermined by the application of the “jock” title to Nordau and other nonathletes, such as gambler and 1919 World Series fixer Arnold Rothstein, Washington Post sports columnist Shirley Povich and broadcast legend Howard Cosell. Their inclusion on the basis of their significant impacts on the landscape of sports is, however, well-defended by Foer and Tracy. Other highlights include Jonathan Safran Foer on Bobby Fischer, Steven Pinker on Red Auerbach, Buzz Bissinger on Barney Ross and George Packer on Mark Cuban.

A must for the bookshelf of any Jewish sports fan.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4555-1613-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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