Rather than a journalist’s or a biographer’s disinterested analysis, the author offers a fan’s notes.

STAN MUSIAL

AN AMERICAN LIFE

A deeply admiring, fawning biography of the great St. Louis Cardinal.

Longtime New York Times sports columnist Vecsey (Baseball: A History of America’s Favorite Game, 2006, etc.) wears glasses with deeply Cardinal-colored lenses throughout his anecdotal record of the Hall of Fame left fielder/first baseman, whose spectacular career—which included a .331 lifetime average and a record 24 All-Star selections—ran from 1941 to 1963. Readers who want details about Musial’s personal life will have to wait for a more rigorous treatment, as will fans who want thorough descriptions of specific games and seasons. But those who want repetitious pages about the wonders of the character of Stan the Man will find their appetites quickly sated. Vecsey narrates chronologically, but there are numerous brief interchapters highlighting moments in Musial’s life, generally designed to establish his sainthood qualifications—his acts of kindness and comments from adoring fans and former teammates. Rarely does the author say anything negative (Musial once refused to sign an autograph), but, otherwise, it’s trivia and treacle. Vecsey even ends with a personal memory of Musial’s warm hand after a recent handshake. The author celebrates Musial’s great 1962 season (he hit .330) but neglects to mention his subsequent year (.255)—or to note that in his final five seasons he hit over .300 only once. Repeatedly, Vecsey laments Musial’s inferior position to Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams in most fans’ minds, attributing it to Musial’s self-effacing goodness. In perhaps the most egregious example of his tendentiousness, the author notes that Musial went to his St. Louis restaurant the night of the JFK assassination because he realized “his buddy had been gunned down, and the world needed to see Stanley.”

Rather than a journalist’s or a biographer’s disinterested analysis, the author offers a fan’s notes.

Pub Date: May 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-345-51706-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: ESPN Books/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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