EIGHT WORLD CUPS

MY JOURNEY THROUGH THE BEAUTY AND DARK SIDE OF SOCCER

Timed to appear before the 2014 tournament in Brazil, the book provides a readable personal story and a history of America’s...

One man’s perspective on more than three decades of international soccer.

New York Times columnist Vecsey (Stan Musial: An American Life, 2011, etc.) was among the earliest major sports journalists in the United States to embrace wholeheartedly the world’s most beloved game. “Maybe because I discovered soccer relatively late in life, I saw it with fresh eyes, a fresh heart,” he writes. “I loved the difficulty of it, the kaleidoscopic surprises, with a growing appreciation for the history and the strategy.” He experienced his first World Cup in Spain in 1982 and has attended the global showcase every four years ever since, as well as witnessing the emergence of the women’s World Cup as a significant sporting event. Here, the author serves as an idiosyncratic tour guide through the recent history of the beautiful game and the politics surrounding it. His periodization, if solipsistic and occasionally self-indulgent, is also apt, as it begins when the United States was a true backwater in the sport and ends as the Americans have established a presence as a solid second-tier power (this is not an insult) on the world’s stage. Vecsey’s tone is conversational, which usually works but may at times prove grating for some readers. His intended audience is the increasingly sophisticated and educated American soccer supporter and may well not resonate outside of the U.S. The author also admirably engages with the rise of the women’s game, though by the end of the book, he seems to have forgotten about the distaff side. Vecsey also confronts some of the seamier aspects of the politics of soccer’s global governing bodies and some of its more corrupt leaders.

Timed to appear before the 2014 tournament in Brazil, the book provides a readable personal story and a history of America’s coming-of-age on the pitch.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9848-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

NIGHT

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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