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. 14, 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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Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.


A master storyteller’s character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution.

Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he “could march from one end of the American continent to the other.” Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women’s work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans’ military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers “who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins” at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supreme insult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general—not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world’s highest standard of living in 1776.

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2671-2

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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