Not the most winning of recent football books but worth a look.

The bad-boy football coach struts his stuff—well, the stuff of decades ago, anyway.

Don’t like Johnson? He couldn’t care less. “When Sports Illustrated ranked the twenty-five most hated teams in history,” he gloats, “our 1986 Miami team was No. 1 and our 1992 Dallas Cowboys team was No. 3.” Part of the reason is that operative keyword: gloat. “What’s the point of winning if you can’t gloat a little?” It’s a question asked and answered in the very title of the book, and the author insists that a steady stream of visitors comes to his Key West home to imbibe his ascended wisdom: “These visitors don’t fly into Miami, drive through the Everglades, and visit the Keys just to see me. They come to hear what I learned.” Gloating aside, Johnson undeniably knows plenty about the game of football, information he’s glad to share here. One piece of advice, broadly paraphrased, is to know your numbers and then go with your gut anyway, as when Johnson picked a down-in-the-draft-roster player who was said to be small and slow and, because no one threw to him, may not have been able to catch a ball. Johnson took him anyway. That player was Emmitt Smith, and, as Johnson notes, “By the time he retired, he was the NFL’s all-time rushing leader.” Evaluating talent doesn’t always mean finding the best team player, at least not at first, as long as the player finally gets with the program. And what is the program? Hit hard. Work harder than they do. Scrimmage every day. Leave your kids to fend for themselves if you need to in order to win (“I wasn’t exactly cold. I just wasn’t tied to a calendar”). And don’t be afraid to be disliked.

Not the most winning of recent football books but worth a look.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-862-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022


Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.

A heartfelt memoir from the pop superstar.

Spears grew up with an alcoholic father, an exacting mother, and a fear of disappointing them both. She also displayed a natural talent for singing and dancing and a strong work ethic. Spears is grateful for the adult professionals who helped her get her start, but the same can’t be said of her peers. When she met Justin Timberlake, also a Mouseketeer on the Disney Channel’s updated Mickey Mouse Club, the two formed an instant bond. Spears describes her teenage feelings for Timberlake as “so in love with him it was pathetic,” and she’s clearly angry about the rumors and breakup that followed. This tumultuous period haunted her for years. Out of many candidates for villains of the book, Timberlake included, perhaps the worst are the careless journalists of the late 1990s and early 2000s, who indulged Timberlake while vilifying Spears. The cycle repeated for years, taking its toll on her mental health. Spears gave birth to sons Sean Preston and Jayden James within two years, and she describes the difficulties they all faced living in the spotlight. The author writes passionately about how custody of her boys and visits with them were held over her head, and she recounts how they were used to coerce her to make decisions that weren’t always in her best interest. As many readers know, conservancy followed, and for 13 years, she toured, held a residency in Las Vegas, and performed—all while supposedly unable to take care of herself, an irony not lost on her. Overall, the book is cathartic, though readers who followed her 2021 trial won’t find many revelations, and many of the other newsworthy items have been widely covered in the run-up to the book’s release.

Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781668009048

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023


What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.

A gloriously massive memoir from a sui generis star.

When Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen published 500-page memoirs, that seemed long—but as we learned, they really did have that much to say. Streisand doubles the ante with 1,000 pages. In addition to chronicling her own life, the author offers fascinating lessons on acting, directing, film editing, sound mixing, lighting, and more, as revealed in detailed accounts of the making of each of her projects. As Stephen Sondheim commented about her, “It’s not just the gift, it’s the willingness to take infinite pains.” The pains really pay off. With every phase of her life, from childhood in Brooklyn to her 27-year-romance with current husband, James Brolin, Streisand throws everything she has—including her mother’s scrapbook and her own considerable talent as a writer—into developing the characters, settings, conversations, meals, clothes, and favorite colors and numbers of a passionately lived existence. In the process, she puts her unique stamp on coffee ice cream, egg rolls, dusty rose, pewter gray, the number 24, Donna Karan, Modigliani, and much more. Among the heroes are her father, who died when she was very young but nevertheless became an ongoing inspiration. The villains include her mother, whose coldness and jealousy were just as consistent. An armada of ex-boyfriends, colleagues, and collaborators come to life in a tone that captures the feel of Streisand’s spoken voice by way of Yiddishisms, parenthetical asides, and snappy second thoughts. The end is a little heavy on tributes, but you wouldn’t want to miss the dog cloning, the generous photo section, or this line, delivered in all seriousness: “Looking back, I feel as if I didn't fulfill my potential.”

What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780525429524

Page Count: 992

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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