Essential for all students of sports history and of photography and a fine gift for buffs as well.

WHO SHOT SPORTS

A PHOTOGRAPHIC HISTORY, 1843 TO THE PRESENT

Superb anthology of sports photographs, coupled with an illuminating text exploring the making of images both iconic and unknown.

Of the iconic imagery, most readers of a certain age can conjure in their minds a facsimile of, say, Olympic athletes raising clenched fists on the podium, Muhammad Ali smacking Joe Frazier, or American women’s soccer player Brandi Chastain raising her jersey to celebrate her team’s World Cup victory. “The missing link…is the photographer,” writes photo curator Buckland (History of Photography/Cooper Union; Who Shot Rock & Roll, 2009, etc.), who remedies that by including biographical and critical sketches of the photographers behind the lens at those climactic moments. Some of her choices are comparatively unknown, however, such as a wonderful image of two young players, shrouded in dust, sliding into home plate in the 2006 College World Series. If carved into marble, it might have been a study for the Laocoön Group, but as it is, Damian Strohmeyer’s photograph is a perfect capture of bodies in motion, shot “high enough to show the gradations of color, textures, and markings on the field, but close enough for the viewer to feel part of the action.” That photograph is followed by one just as impressive, this one taken by “the only official Austrian photographer at the 1936 Berlin Olympics,” Lothar Rübelt, who preceded that accomplishment with a stunning image of Jewish runners crossing a finish line in a 1921 contest. There’s also a great shot of a young Cassius Clay emerging from the ocean like Poseidon, caught by Flip Schulke, a Sports Illustrated photographer who never caught on that Clay/Ali couldn’t swim. This is a collection of superlatives, with both subjects and artists in the finest of forms; it’s difficult to single out highlights, therefore, but one surely is David Burnett’s diving photographs, some taken with an old Speed Graphic camera “like the press photographers of yore used.”

Essential for all students of sports history and of photography and a fine gift for buffs as well.

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-35223-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Doesn’t dig as deep as it could, but offers a captivating look at the NBA’s greatest era.

WHEN THE GAME WAS OURS

NBA legends Bird and Johnson, fierce rivals during their playing days, team up on a mutual career retrospective.

With megastars LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and international superstars like China’s Yao Ming pushing it to ever-greater heights of popularity today, it’s difficult to imagine the NBA in 1979, when financial problems, drug scandals and racial issues threatened to destroy the fledgling league. Fortunately, that year marked the coming of two young saviors—one a flashy, charismatic African-American and the other a cocky, blond, self-described “hick.” Arriving fresh off a showdown in the NCAA championship game in which Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans defeated Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores—still the highest-rated college basketball game ever—the duo changed the course of history not just for the league, but the sport itself. While the pair’s on-court accomplishments have been exhaustively chronicled, the narrative hook here is unprecedented insight and commentary from the stars themselves on their unique relationship, a compelling mixture of bitter rivalry and mutual admiration. This snapshot of their respective careers delves with varying degrees of depth into the lives of each man and their on- and off-court achievements, including the historic championship games between Johnson’s Lakers and Bird’s Celtics, their trailblazing endorsement deals and Johnson’s stunning announcement in 1991 that he had tested positive for HIV. Ironically, this nostalgic chronicle about the two men who, along with Michael Jordan, turned more fans onto NBA basketball than any other players, will likely appeal primarily to a narrow cross-section of readers: Bird/Magic fans and hardcore hoop-heads.

Doesn’t dig as deep as it could, but offers a captivating look at the NBA’s greatest era.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-547-22547-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009

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A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

HUMANS OF NEW YORK

STORIES

Photographer and author Stanton returns with a companion volume to Humans of New York (2013), this one with similarly affecting photographs of New Yorkers but also with some tales from his subjects’ mouths.

Readers of the first volume—and followers of the related site on Facebook and elsewhere—will feel immediately at home. The author has continued to photograph the human zoo: folks out in the streets and in the parks, in moods ranging from parade-happy to deep despair. He includes one running feature—“Today in Microfashion,” which shows images of little children dressed up in various arresting ways. He also provides some juxtapositions, images and/or stories that are related somehow. These range from surprising to forced to barely tolerable. One shows a man with a cat on his head and a woman with a large flowered headpiece, another a construction worker proud of his body and, on the facing page, a man in a wheelchair. The emotions course along the entire continuum of human passion: love, broken love, elation, depression, playfulness, argumentativeness, madness, arrogance, humility, pride, frustration, and confusion. We see varieties of the human costume, as well, from formalwear to homeless-wear. A few celebrities appear, President Barack Obama among them. The “stories” range from single-sentence comments and quips and complaints to more lengthy tales (none longer than a couple of pages). People talk about abusive parents, exes, struggles to succeed, addiction and recovery, dramatic failures, and lifelong happiness. Some deliver minirants (a neuroscientist is especially curmudgeonly), and the children often provide the most (often unintended) humor. One little boy with a fishing pole talks about a monster fish. Toward the end, the images seem to lead us toward hope. But then…a final photograph turns the light out once again.

A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05890-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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