Most readers will agree with the authors’ final assessment that Finley was an innovative, infuriating jackass whose braying...

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CHARLIE FINLEY

THE OUTRAGEOUS STORY OF BASEBALL’S SUPER SHOWMAN

Two aerospace researchers examine the labyrinthine life of one of baseball’s most notorious owners, displaying both revulsion and grudging respect for their subject.

NASA senior planner Green and Smithsonian Air and Space Museum senior curator Launius do a creditable job pinning down both the mundane and the extraterrestrial aspects of Charles Oscar Finley’s remarkable rise. From his humble roots in Gary, Ind., Finley ascended to become owner of the Oakland Athletics in the early ’70s, a team that won three consecutive World Series and featured Vida Blue, Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter and other All-Stars and future Hall-of-Famers. Born in 1918, Finley moved to Chicago for college, then entered the insurance industry and ignited the boom-or-bust pattern that zigzagged across his entire career. After finding great financial success by insuring physicians, Finley sought to buy a baseball franchise and found a failing one in Kansas City, where all his vagaries, innovations, insecurities, weaknesses, strengths and irascibility exploded like post-game fireworks into the Kansas sky. He hired, harassed, fired and even traded managers with stunning suddenness, befriended then alienated players, fought with the press, experimented with myriad marketing promotions and began lobbying for changes in the sport, including the designated hitter, night World Series games and interleague play. Thinking Oakland would be a lucrative baseball market, he moved his team there in 1968. He was wrong. Even in their championship seasons, the A’s could not draw a million fans. Finley’s fall ensued, caused by a complicated and ruinous divorce, losing battles with emerging free agency, mutual animosity with commissioner Bowie Kuhn, mismanagement and a kind of regal recklessness.

Most readers will agree with the authors’ final assessment that Finley was an innovative, infuriating jackass whose braying was sometimes sensible, even wise.

Pub Date: July 6, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8027-1745-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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