Gridiron fans of all stripes will find this a fascinating exercise in the collision of money, entertainment, politics, and...

FOOTBALL FOR A BUCK

THE CRAZY RISE AND CRAZIER DEMISE OF THE USFL

Scathing, action-packed account of the rise and fall of spring football in the 1980s, with a familiar villain to the piece.

In 1961, writes Pearlman (Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre, 2016, etc.), a New Orleans–based art dealer and entrepreneur named David Dixon wondered why it was that the National Football League was so resistant to expanding outside of its existing franchises. His solution: to build a league for play in the “vast sports wasteland” of spring in those years before March Madness. Five years later, the United States Football League was born, though it would take another decade and a half before anything substantial came of it. The newborn league had rules meant to level the field among rich and poor teams, including caps on salaries and limits on how they were distributed among star players and workhorses. Said one team owner at the time, “we had a gentleman’s agreement,” adding, “of course, that’s only OK as long as you have gentlemen agreeing.” Enter Donald Trump, owner of the New Jersey franchise, who immediately began breaking those agreements and demanding that other owners subsidize him even as he revealed the depths of his ignorance about the game. Trump also began to press for the USFL to play not in spring but in fall, going up against the NFL and prompting speculation that he was really after an NFL franchise to call his own. In the end, the USFL collapsed—though, as Pearlman notes, it lives on in unexpected ways, including Trump’s arrival in the White House. “Thirty-three years after insisting his fellow owners would pay for Doug Flutie,” writes the author, “he was insisting Mexico would pay for a border wall.” If nothing else, Pearlman’s fluently told story provides context for why the sitting president holds the NFL in such contempt—and why the sentiment should be richly returned.

Gridiron fans of all stripes will find this a fascinating exercise in the collision of money, entertainment, politics, and ego.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-45438-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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