A sharpshooting account worthy of a champion.

COACH K

THE RISE AND REIGN OF MIKE KRZYZEWSKI

A full-court look at NCAA men’s basketball’s all-time winningest coach on the eve of his retirement.

Who would have guessed that the Chicago-born son of poor, first-generation Polish-Americans with an unpronounceable surname would grow up to lead an elite private school to five national championships while amassing more than 1,000 wins and producing numerous NBA superstars? Even after a standout high school career that led to him playing for legendary coach Bob Knight at Army, Mike Krzyzewski (b. 1947) hardly seemed destined for superstardom. When Knight left for Indiana, however, Krzyzewski succeeded him and coached Army to some impressive victories, which won him an interview at Duke. Athletic Director Tom Butters chose Krzyzewski over far more qualified candidates. Though Krzyzewski didn’t consent to be interviewed for this book, he didn’t discourage anyone in his inner circle from speaking with New York Post columnist—and longtime ESPN writer—O’Connor, the author of biographies of Derek Jeter and Bill Belichick. O’Connor effectively leverages a broad cast of characters to chronicle Coach K’s rocky start at Duke (Butters never wavered in his support); the critical role of his family, especially wife Mickie, in his life and his program; his rise to the apex of college basketball; his stint coaching USA men’s basketball to three consecutive Olympic gold medals; and his fraught relationship with combustible mentor Knight. The author doesn’t shy away from Krzyzewski’s shortcomings: A fiery competitor, he can be petty and temperamental and has difficulty apologizing; as a tactician, he’s not particularly innovative. O’Connor also probes the few occasions that the program has toed the line of impropriety and highlights how Coach K leverages every possible recruiting advantage (perhaps unfairly), such as getting NBA players like LeBron James to sing his praises. He also makes a powerful case for why Krzyzewski has achieved such immense success: He’s an extraordinary communicator and motivator, brilliant organizer, and tireless worker who prioritizes family and team above all else.

A sharpshooting account worthy of a champion.

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-358-34540-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Mariner Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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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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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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