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



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 scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.


A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.


The renowned political scientist and philosopher considers classical liberalism and the broad range of enemies arrayed against it.

“By ‘liberalism,’ ” writes Fukuyama, “I refer to the doctrine…that argued for the limitation of the powers of governments through law and ultimately constitutions, creating institutions protecting the rights of individuals living under their jurisdiction.” Born of events such as the English civil war and the Enlightenment, this liberalism also encouraged diversity of thought, religion, and ethnicity, placing it squarely in the crosshairs of today’s authoritarian nationalists, not least Donald Trump. Fukuyama has often been identified with conservative causes, but his thinking here is democratic to the core, and he has no use for such pathetic lies as Trump’s insistence that the 2020 election was stolen. That said, the author notes that liberalism has many enemies on both the left and the right for numerous real yet correctable failings. The neoliberalism that has emerged over the past couple of generations has accelerated inequality, and numerous institutions have been eroded while others, such as the Electoral College, have been revealed to be anti-democratic. Both left and right, the author argues, have trouble accepting that governing over diversity, the hallmark of liberalism, means governing over many ethnic and national groups, strata of income, and competing interests. He adds, however, “Left-of-center voters…remain much more diverse” in political outlook. Essential to a liberal society, Fukuyama insists, is the right to vote: “Voting rights are fundamental rights that need to be defended by the power of the national government.” While he insists that individual rights take precedence over group rights, he also observes that the social contract demands citizen participation. To the conservative charge that the social contract is one thing but the “common moral horizon” another, he answers that yes, liberalism does not insist on a single morality—which “is indeed a feature and not a bug.”

A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60671-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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