Inspired by his 5-year-old son’s fascination with the pageantry of a televised Army game, Drape went to West Point looking...

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SOLDIERS FIRST

DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY, AND FOOTBALL AT WEST POINT

New York Times sportswriter chronicles the 2011 edition of the Black Knights football team.

During the 1940s and ’50s, Coach Red Blaik’s undefeated, powerhouse teams thundered up and down Michie Stadium’s field, and Army featured players—Doc Blanchard, Glenn Davis, Pete Dawkins—talented enough to win the Heisman Trophy. At the outset of Drape’s (Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen, 2009, etc.) account of last year’s young, not-very-talented team, he concedes that the glory days of Army football are over. He’s in search, however, of something else: Where, in the moral sewer of today’s big-time college athletics, does honor still reside? His book contains a game-by-game replay of the disappointing three-win season, but the author is mainly concerned with explaining what it’s like to play a Division I sport at a place where the idea of a student-athlete is real. He focuses on the coach, Rich Ellerson, the team’s three captains, the quarterback and a few others to tell about a culture where being a player “is a picnic compared to being a West Point Plebe,” where football training camp is far easier than the field training to which all cadets are subjected, and where gridiron disappointments must be set aside quickly, because “[t]here is always something more important coming at you.” At the United States Military Academy, no Hollywood celebrities or NFL stars show up at practice (although a Medal of Honor winner might), no player receives special treatment to ensure his eligibility, nor are any concessions made to cadets who are soldiers first, players second. In reporting this story, Drape had “unfettered access to the Academy.” He’s returned from the banks of the Hudson with a sports book that has far more to do with character, intellect and sacrifice than it has to do with football.

Inspired by his 5-year-old son’s fascination with the pageantry of a televised Army game, Drape went to West Point looking for college football’s “good guys.” He most certainly found them.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9490-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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THE ABOLITION OF MAN

The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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