Being right is important. Being able to document that rightness (or righteousness) is vital. This book lives up to the...

THE UGLY GAME

THE CORRUPTION OF FIFA AND THE QATARI PLOT TO BUY THE WORLD CUP

The story of corruption surrounding the awarding of the 2022 World Cup, “worth billions of dollars and priceless prestige to the victor.”

By this point, there are few who doubt that the international governing body of soccer, FIFA, is utterly, uncontrollably, uncontrovertibly, and undoubtedly corrupt. It is an organization without scruples, larger than the United Nations in membership and beholden to a small number of willful men. The granting of the 2022 World Cup to the tiny desert nation of Qatar was an act of both folly and hubris. Readers would be hard-pressed to find anyone who pays attention to global soccer to believe that awarding the country the world’s most popular sport’s premier event was anything but a triumph of graft over merit. It is this story that Buzzfeed U.K. investigations editor Blake and Sunday Times Insight team editor Calvert investigate, and a good portion of the narrative is compelling. However, their reportage hangs on such a thin and fragile reed of evidence that even if it rings true, it does not carry the fundamental burden of proving the truth. Relying on the testimony of shady anonymous interlocutors, drawing on broad but unverifiable inferences, providing no footnotes or endnotes or even a bibliography, the authors tell the world what it wants to hear without proving why it is worth hearing. FIFA is an easy target, and the authors take plenty of justifiable shots at the organization. But it will be up to future writers and scholars not just to take aim at the giant bull’s-eye, but to hit it with greater accuracy. Thinking one knows the truth is not enough, no matter how many anonymous sources tell you otherwise.

Being right is important. Being able to document that rightness (or righteousness) is vital. This book lives up to the former but disappoints on the latter.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3149-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2015

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IN COLD BLOOD

"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

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Doesn’t dig as deep as it could, but offers a captivating look at the NBA’s greatest era.

WHEN THE GAME WAS OURS

NBA legends Bird and Johnson, fierce rivals during their playing days, team up on a mutual career retrospective.

With megastars LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and international superstars like China’s Yao Ming pushing it to ever-greater heights of popularity today, it’s difficult to imagine the NBA in 1979, when financial problems, drug scandals and racial issues threatened to destroy the fledgling league. Fortunately, that year marked the coming of two young saviors—one a flashy, charismatic African-American and the other a cocky, blond, self-described “hick.” Arriving fresh off a showdown in the NCAA championship game in which Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans defeated Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores—still the highest-rated college basketball game ever—the duo changed the course of history not just for the league, but the sport itself. While the pair’s on-court accomplishments have been exhaustively chronicled, the narrative hook here is unprecedented insight and commentary from the stars themselves on their unique relationship, a compelling mixture of bitter rivalry and mutual admiration. This snapshot of their respective careers delves with varying degrees of depth into the lives of each man and their on- and off-court achievements, including the historic championship games between Johnson’s Lakers and Bird’s Celtics, their trailblazing endorsement deals and Johnson’s stunning announcement in 1991 that he had tested positive for HIV. Ironically, this nostalgic chronicle about the two men who, along with Michael Jordan, turned more fans onto NBA basketball than any other players, will likely appeal primarily to a narrow cross-section of readers: Bird/Magic fans and hardcore hoop-heads.

Doesn’t dig as deep as it could, but offers a captivating look at the NBA’s greatest era.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-547-22547-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009

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