A must-read for fans, but fails to capture the true essence of Bettis’s charisma.

THE BUS

MY LIFE IN AND OUT OF THE HELMET

Self-serving career retrospective from one of the NFL’s all-time leading rushers and all-around nice guys.

Bettis’s life is a checklist of quintessential sports fairy-tale elements: dangerous childhood in a poor Detroit neighborhood; drug deals and bad influences; hardworking, supportive parents who instilled values; scholarship to prestigious university (Notre Dame); illustrious and potentially hall-of-fame career in the NFL; storybook ending after winning the Super Bowl in his last game—in his hometown of Detroit, no less. It’s beyond question that “the Bus,” an immensely popular player as a result of his talent, charm and tireless philanthropy, has a tale to tell. Too often, however, what could have been an enlightening, inspiring look inside professional football by an intelligent man who overcame overwhelming obstacles becomes a rote recitation of game statistics accented by a discordant measure of braggadocio. Bettis chronicles nearly every good game he ever played and offers justifications for some of the bad ones, ranging from the numerous painful injuries he suffered throughout his career to a lack of talented teammates. ESPN writer Wojciechowski (Cubs Nation: 162 Games, 162 Stories, 1 Addiction, 2005, etc.) valiantly tries to inject some life into each chapter via descriptive introductions and interviews with friends, and the duo does manage to provide some genuinely touching moments, particularly when highlighting the unswerving loyalty the Bus inspired in teammates like Hines Ward and Ben Roethlisberger. The book works best when Bettis discusses his relationships with his family and other players or riffs on random topics ranging from his love of bowling to his condemnation of Notre Dame for its relatively quick firing of black head coach Tyrone Willingham. When it loses itself in the congratulatory minutiae of its subject’s accomplishments, however, readers are likely to start heading for the exits.

A must-read for fans, but fails to capture the true essence of Bettis’s charisma.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-385-52061-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2007

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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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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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