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A pleasing slice of baseball nostalgia that offers relevance to today’s game.

The history of a fascinating franchise during professional baseball’s colorful 1970s era.

Sports journalist Turbow (co-author: The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls—the Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime, 2010) focuses on Charlie Finley (1918-1996), the owner of the Oakland Athletics franchise, and the key players on his flamboyant championship teams of the early 1970s. Finley, who earned his fortune in the insurance industry, never won acceptance in the club of wealthy, white male owners of Major League Baseball teams. He was irreverent about the rules and traditions of the game, and, perhaps as shocking to the baseball establishment, he openly exhibited his control-freak nature, narcissism, “hard-edged attitude,” illogical penny-pinching, and a host of other unpleasant traits. Despite his larger-than-life character, Finley often made wise decisions about corralling talented players for his rosters. For a few glory years, the players, many of a rebellious nature, meshed well on and off the field. (Turbow quotes pitcher Blue Moon Odom that to join Finley’s roster, “you have to pass the crazy test. You fill out that application—are you crazy? If the answer is no, we don’t want you.”) The narrative benefits immensely from Turbow’s many interviews with the long-retired players from the Athletics’ dominant stretch. A cast of characters section provides information about the post-baseball careers of the members of this particular dynasty, including such well-known names as Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, and Rollie Fingers (Reggie Jackson: “We call him ‘buzzard’ because he’s off in his own world. Nothing bothers him. Him and that handlebar mustache of his—he’s cool”). The dismantling of the team by the mercurial and seemingly illogical Finley introduces a down note to this rollicking sports adventure. When Finley died at age 77, few people from professional baseball attended the funeral.

A pleasing slice of baseball nostalgia that offers relevance to today’s game.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-30317-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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