THE LAST GREAT GAME

DUKE VS. KENTUCKY AND THE 2.1 SECONDS THAT CHANGED BASKETBALL

A fitting, illuminating tribute to a game that many believe was the best ever.

Thorough chronicle of the legendary 1992 NCAA basketball tournament clash between Duke and Kentucky.

Duke’s last-second triumph over Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA East Regional is one of the most indelible moments in the history of college sports. Most college-basketball fans remember where they were when Duke’s Christian Laettner sank the miracle game-winning shot. Veteran ESPN columnist Wojciechowski (co-author, with Jerome Bettis: The Bus, 2008, etc.) tells the story of the game, and the two teams’ seasons leading up to it, with a newspaperman’s eye for detail. Arguably college basketball’s most iconic program, Kentucky, under new coach Rick Pitino, wasn’t even supposed to be a threat for the championship, just two seasons removed from crippling NCAA sanctions over widespread rules infractions. Duke, the defending NCAA champions, were on their way to becoming a modern dynasty under coach Mike Krzyzewski. The author explores the backgrounds and personalities of the opposing coaches and key players including, Kentucky’s freshman superstar Jamal Mashburn and Duke’s Grant Hill and Bobby Hurley. Wojciechowski neatly deals with the problem of a book-length exploration of a single game by retelling it twice, once from each team’s perspective. Though it obviously cannot compare with the excitement of watching the action, the book ably recaptures the energy of one of sport’s greatest moments. In Laettner, a villain to everyone except Duke fans, including some of his own teammates, the author finds a surprisingly complex protagonist, and the story’s most intriguing character.

A fitting, illuminating tribute to a game that many believe was the best ever.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-15857-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

WHY WE SWIM

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

INSIDE AMERICAN EDUCATION

THE DECLINE, THE DECEPTION, THE DOGMAS

American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

Categories:
more