An uncritical text so inflated with celebration that it nearly floats out of readers' hands.

HEISMAN

THE MAN BEHIND THE TROPHY

The man behind the trophy—John William Heisman (1869–1936)—had surpassing talents and a character as spotless as burnished bronze.

So says this biography by his great-grandnephew and ESPN columnist Schlabach (Called to Coach: Reflections on Life, Faith, and Football, 2010). The authors begin in 1935 with the presentation of the first award for football prowess at New York’s Downtown Athletic Club, an award Heisman, who worked for the club, initially opposed, then designed and wholeheartedly supported. That first year was the only year it would not bear Heisman’s name; when he died in 1935, the club appended his name, and we all know about the hoopla associated with it nowadays. The authors take us back to Heisman’s German ancestors (who spelled the name Heissmann) and shows us their emigration and their move to Pennsylvania, where the family became involved in the booming oil business as coopers. Growing up in Titusville, young Heisman learned “personal responsibility; hard, persevering work; and honest dealings.” The authors sketch Heisman’s education (he went to the University of Pennsylvania), his passion for football (he was the dynamite-in-small-packages type) and his decision to coach, a decision that would take him to numerous schools, virtually all of which became winners under his innovative tutelage. The authors offer too much history of every school where he worked, and we hear about plenty of games and players and Heisman’s superior thespian and writing skills (he had a “mastery of the English language”).

An uncritical text so inflated with celebration that it nearly floats out of readers' hands.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1451682915

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Howard Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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

NIGHT

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

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