Those looking for a cogent analysis of Robinson’s impact on the civil-rights movement and the tribulations faced by a man...

OPENING DAY

THE STORY OF JACKIE ROBINSON’S FIRST SEASON

An entertaining and equitable examination of Jackie Robinson’s groundbreaking rookie season.

In 1947, major-league baseball was still the exclusive province of white players. Change was in the wind, however, and the progressive president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, was at the forefront for moral, practical and economic reasons. Rickey signed Robinson, making him the first black player in the majors. Eig (Luckiest Man, 2005) chronicles Robinson’s journey from college-football star to baseball legend, with plenty of digressions to flesh out key participants (and a few too many tangential discourses on less important individuals). While the Negro leagues abounded with talented players, white Americans doubted their ability to handle the pressure of big-league ball. Understanding that overcoming that perception would require players to have more than mere talent, Rickey shrewdly chose a man who wasn’t necessarily the most skilled black player available, Eig contends, but had the greatest will to win. Robinson’s competitive streak outstripped even his considerable athletic gifts, and though he had a sullen, almost combative manner at times, his hide was thick enough to deal with blatant racism from both teammates and opponents, as well as the isolation that came with being forced to eat at different restaurants and stay in different hotels. The author combs through sportswriters’ accounts of Robinson’s landmark summer, supplementing his narrative with interviews with fellow players, spectators and cultural observers. Baseball fans will delight in a detailed account of the ’47 Dodgers-Yankees World Series and revel in the portraits of some of baseball’s more interesting characters, even if they don’t always have much of a connection to Robinson.

Those looking for a cogent analysis of Robinson’s impact on the civil-rights movement and the tribulations faced by a man thrust into the role of trailblazer will be justly rewarded, but they’ll have to sit through nine innings to get to it.

Pub Date: April 3, 2007

ISBN: 0-7432-9460-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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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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