A compelling account of a woman who, though long forgotten, changed the way the world viewed swimming. Not quite equal in...

YOUNG WOMAN AND THE SEA

HOW TRUDY EDERLE CONQUERED THE ENGLISH CHANNEL AND INSPIRED THE WORLD

The Best American Sports Writing series editor offers a history of the first woman to swim the English Channel.

In the era of Michael Phelps, it’s easy to forget that 100 years ago the sport of swimming was essentially nonexistent. Considered a necessary skill in ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, swimming eventually became a sport of the elite. Everything changed, however, in the early 1900s when a fatal fire broke out on a steamship in New York Harbor, leaving more than 1,000 people dead as they jumped overboard and drowned in shallow waters. Almost immediately, swimming societies began to spring up across the country to quell the palpable public outrage. Among those newly enrolled in lessons was Gertrude Ederle, a young woman who sought solace in the water to counter the progressive deafness brought on by an early bout of measles. Ederle became dominant in the newly emerging sport, equally at ease swimming sprints or long distances. After winning one gold and two bronze medals in a disappointing 1924 Olympic showing, she turned her efforts to crossing the English Channel. Stout (The Dodgers: 120 Years of Dodgers Baseball, 2004, etc.) adeptly traces the history of swimming and Ederle’s significance in it. Whether recounting the origins of modern strokes or the geological formation of the English Channel, the author is comprehensive in his research. His blow-by-blow accounts of Ederle’s two attempts to cross from Dover, England, to Cape Gris-Nez, France, demonstrate his engaging style. Stout is also a strong finisher—the second half of the book, saturated with thrills and melodrama, is far superior to the first.

A compelling account of a woman who, though long forgotten, changed the way the world viewed swimming. Not quite equal in historical scope to Gavin Mortimer’s The Great Swim (2008), but more colorful than Tim Dahlberg’s America’s Girl (2009).

Pub Date: July 28, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-618-85868-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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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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