A superb work that paints the resilient athlete as a fierce competitor and an unforgettable sportsman.

Heartfelt biography of a Texas football star whose life was cut short by cancer.

Inspired by interviews with coaches, teammates and friends and a 1971 autobiography, award-winning sportswriter Dent (Twelve Mighty Orphans: The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football, 2007, etc.) tracks Freddie Joe Steinmark’s early years and burgeoning career with the Texas Longhorns. From his childhood in 1950s Denver, Colo., Steinmark’s interest in sports flourished, carefully groomed and profoundly encouraged by his father, a self-made athlete turned cop who’d sacrificed a professional baseball career to raise his son. “A small child with fragile bones” yet dubbed “a born winner” by early mentors, Steinmark’s diminutive stature proved a surprisingly suitable match for his steely, fearless determination on the field. Dent budgets his narrative wisely, proffering equal parts sports achievement and personal accomplishment in tracing his subject’s incremental ascent to greatness as he earned the admiration of fellow teammates like star quarterback Roger Behler. As the Longhorns’ “golden boy” key safety, the “155-pound peach-fuzz kid” exhibited drive and tireless perseverance on the gridiron, making him a respected letterman under Coach Darrell Royal. However, soon after a game-saving field performance, Steinmark suffered a crushing blow when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer that would eventually claim his life at 22. Dent also includes the story of Steinmark’s shyly romantic courtship of high-school sweetheart Linda Wheeler, an intensive love that endured throughout their tenure together at the University of Texas. The author also bolsters the biography with a fond foreword from current Texas head coach Mack Brown, who, to this day, continues to memorialize Steinmark’s legacy by bringing his photograph along to the team’s away-games.

A superb work that paints the resilient athlete as a fierce competitor and an unforgettable sportsman.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-65285-2

Page Count: 307

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011


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

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



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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