A perceptive history of “Kentucky’s mythic past and modern society” and how the Derby has helped fans “experience Kentucky...

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THE KENTUCKY DERBY

HOW THE RUN FOR THE ROSES BECAME AMERICA'S PREMIER SPORTING EVENT

An efficient examination of the “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.”

As Nicholson, the scion of a genuine Kentucky horse-breeding family, points out, the Kentucky Derby is as much about colorful colonels, pretty ladies and mint juleps as it is about starting gates, furlongs and Thoroughbreds—maybe even more so. Since its inception in 1875, the great race run annually at Churchill Downs has been understood as an experience, a yearly celebration of a very particular time and place in the nation’s storied history. Whether or not that time or place ever truly existed, writes the author, is immaterial. In fact, it is the malleable nature of the Derby—perhaps best exemplified by the juxtaposition of its notoriously raucous infield and its extravagantly affluent grandstand—that is its greatest strength. Although rooted in a suspect antebellum tradition, the Derby still somehow manages to epitomize whatever the prevailing view of America happens to be at the time. “These values are not static; they evolve, disappear, and resurface at the whim of the pervading cultural, political, and social climate,” Nicholson writes. Keen observations like this prove to be consistently powerful throughout the book, as the author touches on everything from the scandalous demise of celebrated black jockeys to the heavy influence of powerful Middle-Eastern sheiks. The winning horses, of course, are never far from the spotlight. All the great Kentucky Derby champions are here, from Aristides to Secretariat to Smarty Jones. Despite their many heroic exploits on the track, Nicholson’s focus falls beyond the thundering hoof beats that speed past Churchill Downs’ iconic twin spires each spring.

A perceptive history of “Kentucky’s mythic past and modern society” and how the Derby has helped fans “experience Kentucky and…make meaning of themselves as Americans.”

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8131-3576-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Univ. Press of Kentucky

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich...

PERSIMMON WIND

A MARTIAL ARTIST'S JOURNEY IN JAPAN

A reflective and entertaining journey through Japan, as the author seeks to reconnect with his martial arts sensei.

Lowry is a student of koryu (not to be confused with kendo), a style of Japanese classical swordsmanship. Koryu is a medieval art, like Noh and the tea ceremony, a style of combat born on the battlefield–but more importantly, it’s a way to address the world (though an esoteric one: Lowry may well be the only American practicing the art in the United States). Indeed, present-day practitioners refrain from exercising its fatal possibilities. Lowry’s sensei left the U.S. to return to Japan, urging Lowry to follow. Though his life headed in a different direction, he never forgot his training–when the time was ripe, he journeyed to Japan to join his sensei. The narrative revolves around this pivotal decision, and it provides a warm center from which the author expounds on such topics as the glories of a Japanese bath; the evolution of the Samurai caste; the peculiarities of Japanese landscape architecture; the elements of proper sandal-tying; the custom of the premarital shenanigans called yobai; and the teachings of mikkyo Buddhism. He also includes the vital story of the sword–what it reveals about Japanese life and technology, social structure and aesthetic values, etiquette, apprenticeship and the process of education. Lowry’s seriousness lends an earnest cast to the proceedings, but he’s not without a sense of humor–commenting upon his accomplished slurping of noodles, a friend’s wife notes, “He really sucks!”

A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich tradition.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2005

ISBN: 1-890536-10-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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A book that will help everyone feel good at the end of the sporting day.

THE RUDY IN YOU

A GUIDE TO BUILDING TEAMWORK, FAIR PLAY, AND GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP FOR YOUNG ATHLETES, PARENTS, AND COACHES

An uplifting guide to sportsmanship. The subtitle says it all.

Using the example of Ruettiger, whose experience as a Notre Dame football walk-on inspired the 1994 film, Rudy, the authors rail against disrespectful behavior in sports, at any level. They argue that kids, parents and coaches are part of a matrix that can either create a joyful youth sports environment, or a nasty stew of overweening pride, gross expectations and antisocial behavior. With an old school bluntness, they plainly state how participants should act: Kids should have a clear sense of what they want to do, develop strategies for achieving their goals, listen and learn, show respect to all, cultivate a strong work ethic, be positive and helpful and trustworthy, and finally, be patient. Parents should be involved, too, but should always "remember to be the adults. Let the kids be kids." This means not projecting your own aspirations onto your children, while encouraging self-esteem and confidence. Coaches must know their sport (even if they are only volunteers), exemplify personal excellence, challenge the kids, earn their trust, be open to feedback and get everyone involved. The authors’ straightforward advice may seem obvious, but Phillips, Leddy and Ruettiger go further, providing solid examples of how to put these principles into practice. And for all the character building, they also appreciate that kids just want to have fun.

A book that will help everyone feel good at the end of the sporting day.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2005

ISBN: 1-58348-764-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2010

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