A solid work of sports journalism and encouraging reading for jocks who are late to the game but committed to the win all...

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THE NEW SCIENCE OF ELITE PERFORMANCE AT ANY AGE

An exploration of the “elite athletes…who continue to perform and compete at the very highest levels long after the age most of their peers have faded away.”

It’s a strange thing that many of the letter jacket–clad kids you went to high school with dissolve into uncomfortable lumps by the time the 25th reunion comes around. “There’s evidence,” writes technology and business journalist Bercovici, “that the later an individual matures, the more likely he or she is to achieve athletic greatness.” Peaking after 20 is thus not a bad thing at all, particularly with life spans extending as far as they do now. In Plimpton-esque moments, Bercovici tackles various aspects of the fitness-for-elders movement, including an encounter with a VersaClimber machine that threatened to do him in: “After another 30 seconds, I’m not thinking anything because all the glycogen in my body is rushing to my muscles to replace my zonked-out stores of adenosine triphosphate, leaving none left over to power my frontal cortex.” The author examines the changes that occur in the older body, which, perhaps amazingly, can be reversed to some extent with exercise so that the production of hormones and circulation of proteins in the bloodstream in a 60-year-old master athlete is more similar to those of a 30-year-old than to those of a sedentary 60-year-old. Along the way, Bercovici considers various exercise regimes and their effects, the technology of exercise and of sports medicine, and ways of hacking the diet for increased performance, such as eating all the chicken gristle, cartilage, and bone that you can stomach: “Have you ever seen a hyena with bad knees?” It’s a good question, if perhaps a little unappealing to the food-squeamish.

A solid work of sports journalism and encouraging reading for jocks who are late to the game but committed to the win all the same.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-80998-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...

A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING

Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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