A readable sports memoir; more importantly, a strong contribution to the ongoing discussion on race and racism.

I CAME AS A SHADOW

AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY

The renowned Georgetown basketball coach looks back on a long career, interlaced with thoughts on the challenges of being Black in America.

Coach Thompson, writes co-author and ESPN correspondent Washington, is a masterful student of “the game behind the game,” both the intellectual challenges of the court and the psychological factors that influence and sometimes impede players. Basketball, Thompson adds, “became a vehicle for me to challenge injustices.” Arriving at Georgetown in 1972, when Black coaches were few, he demanded that his players be students first, telling recruits that he expected them to spend more time in the library than in the gym. “You can kill people by saying that society is equal,” he writes, “then starting a hundred-yard race with most white people at the fifty-yard line.” Some of his more storied players, such as Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning, overcame institutional and social barriers to become stars, but most athletes even at the college level are playing against the odds, with few standing a chance of going pro. (One standout episode in the book finds Thompson extracting Mourning from a clutch of drug dealers.) Sometimes the NCAA and other conferences put barriers in the way, as when the Southeastern Conference pushed through a proposition that forbade scholarships to students with GPAs lower than 2.0. Because opportunity for students is unequal, that meant that Black students would suffer—one reason, Thompson notes, for a change in the basic assumptions of student athletics: “Since the NCAA won’t hold everyone accountable, paying players might as well be legal.” Another pointed episode comes when Thompson, since retired, looks at the history of Georgetown, a Jesuit school whose founders were significant players in the slave trade, a fact the school has dealt with by offering reparations to the descendants of people enslaved at their hands.

A readable sports memoir; more importantly, a strong contribution to the ongoing discussion on race and racism.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-61935-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

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PERSIST

The Massachusetts senator and financial reformer recounts several of her good fights over the years.

Famous for being chided for “persisting” on the Senate floor, Warren is nearly a byword for the application of an unbending, if usually polite, feminism to the corridors of power. Though she has a schoolmarm-ish air—and indeed taught school for much of her life—she gladly owns up to liking a beer or two and enjoying a good brawl, and she’s a scrapper with a long memory. In 2008, when she shopped a proposal to found a federal agency that “could act as a watchdog to make sure that consumers weren’t getting cheated by financial institutions,” she encountered a congressman who “laughed in my face.” She doesn’t reveal his name, but you can bet he crosses the hall when she’s coming the other way. Warren does name other names, especially Donald Trump, who, with Republicans on the Hill, accomplished only one thing, namely “a $2 trillion tax cut that mostly benefited rich people.” Now that the Democrats are in power, the author reckons that the time is ripe to shake off the Trump debacle and build “a nation that works, not just for the rich and powerful but for everyone.” She identifies numerous areas that need immediate attention, from financial reform to bringing more women into the workplace and mandating equal pay for equal work. Warren premises some of these changes on increased taxes on the rich, happily citing a billionaire well known for insider trading, who complained of her, “This is the fucking American dream she is shitting on.” The author reverts to form: “Oh dear. Did I hit a nerve?” Warren’s common-sensical proposals on housing, infrastructure development, and civil rights merit attention, and her book makes for a sometimes-funny, sometimes–sharp-tongued pleasure.

A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79924-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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