An incisive, damning indictment of the world’s most popular pastimes.

LOVING SPORTS WHEN THEY DON'T LOVE YOU BACK

DILEMMAS OF THE MODERN FAN

Revealing some of the ugliest truths about professional sports.

Luther and Davidson are both well known in the world of sports journalism, and their investigative skills serve them well in this acute survey of their chosen field. (This is also a natural follow-up to Luther’s previous book, Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape.) Written as something of a guide to ethical conflicts that so often erupt in this massive, lucrative business, the overarching theme here is cognitive dissonance. With guidance from psychologists and other experts, the authors dig into the mindsets of fans and their love of the game and players and the manners in which they experience them. They also examine what happens when players and owners behave in problematic, occasionally inexcusable ways. There are some obvious targets: The authors first tackle the issue of doping, famously represented by Lance Armstrong, as well as the inherent issues around brain trauma in the NFL and the persistent problem of defending players credibly accused of domestic violence or sexual assault. But the depth and breadth of the book are impressive, as the authors discuss less-reported issues like inequality in the world of women’s sports or the struggles of players who identify with the LGBTQ community. Because the authors are journalists and not commentators, they also delve much deeper into the inner workings of the sports industry, covering in detail such topics as malevolent team owners, exemplified by former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was banished by the league for his racist comments; the odd mechanics of professional baseball’s free market; and the economic inequities surrounding college basketball’s March Madness. With illuminating interviews and commentary by insiders from the sports community, an appealing pace, and elegant writing, this is a sports book that should interest not just sports fans, but anyone interested in politics, business, or society at large.

An incisive, damning indictment of the world’s most popular pastimes.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4773-1313-8

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Univ. of Texas

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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A PROMISED LAND

In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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