A moving, maddening look at a storied partnership that might have been a beautiful friendship as well.

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THE LAST PASS

COUSY, RUSSELL, THE CELTICS, AND WHAT MATTERS IN THE END

Journalist and historian Pomerantz (Writing and Reporting/Stanford Graduate Program in Journalism; Their Life’s Work: The Brotherhood of the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, Then and Now, 2013, etc.) delivers a sturdy work at the intersection of sports history and race relations.

Bob Cousy, one of the best point guards ever, came up at a time when players had little representation or power. Yet he was seemingly fearless, and not just in pushing back when he disagreed with tough-as-nails coach Red Auerbach or the front office. (When Auerbach said of Cousy’s fancy dribbling and passing, “the criterion of a great passer is the completion of the pass,” Cousy’s reply was, “after a man had played with me for a few weeks…there is no excuse for his being fooled.”) As captain, Cousy built a well-oiled machine that got more powerful with the addition of Bill Russell at center. Yet this was the late 1950s, and though Cousy had organized the first successful NBA players’ union, he could do nothing about the racism Russell faced, as when he tried to buy a house in the suburbs to find that the “white neighbors there objected strenuously”—then broke into his house and “defecated in his bed.” Russell responded bitterly that he played for the Celtics but emphatically not for Boston. His emergence as a powerful voice for the civil rights movement didn’t win him any fans in Southie, especially when he said, “we have got to make the white population uncomfortable and keep it uncomfortable, because that is the only way to get their attention.” The author’s reportage and research are thoroughly up to the stuff of the standard sports biography, but the narrative acquires its greatest force when, long after the events described, Cousy expresses regret that he didn’t do more to support Russell: “I [ran] into literally my first angry black man….I think this simply scared me off.” Nor has Russell mellowed—and nor should he.

A moving, maddening look at a storied partnership that might have been a beautiful friendship as well.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2361-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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