A thriller of a tale and a worthy scene-setter for this summer's trophy defense in San Francisco Bay.

READ REVIEW

THE BILLIONAIRE AND THE MECHANIC

HOW LARRY ELLISON AND A CAR MECHANIC TEAMED UP TO WIN SAILING'S GREATEST RACE, THE AMERICA'S CUP

How billionaire Larry Ellison and his Oracle team succeeded in returning the America's Cup, the premier prize in global yachting, to the United States.

Victory came in 2010 when USA-17, Ellison's state-of-the-art, carbon-fiber composite boat regained the cup after failures in 2003 and 2007. San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Guthrie’s (The Grace of Everyday Saints: How a Band of Believers Lost Their Church and Found Their Faith, 2011) splendid elaboration of the victory also encompasses the history of the race and the competitors and their boats from its beginnings in the mid-19th century. She marks off clearly which parts of the team's success were due to luck, which to money, and which to skill and superior technology, and she ably captures the parallel competition between men and their boats and the power of nature working through ocean and weather. Guthrie presents the successive challenges Ellison had to overcome as he developed the skills, the team and the technology that could tame the waves and human competition. Part of her story involves the organization of a kind of insurrection in the elite world of yacht clubs. Working with radiator mechanic Norbert Bajurin, commodore of San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club, Ellison took on both privilege and inherited wealth, as represented by Ernesto Bertarelli and his Swiss Team Alinghi, which had won in 2007. Their 2010 rematch brought together some of the same leading competitors from Ellison's first attempt in New Zealand in 2003. Guthrie crisply sketches the complex process that was required for Ellison to establish his own position in the top ranks of yachting and organize the winning team in 2010.

A thriller of a tale and a worthy scene-setter for this summer's trophy defense in San Francisco Bay.

Pub Date: June 4, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2135-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2013

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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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Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading...

CONCUSSION

A maddening, well-constructed tale of medical discovery and corporate coverup, set in morgues, laboratories, courtrooms, and football fields.

Nigeria-born Bennet Omalu is perhaps an unlikely hero, a medical doctor board-certified in four areas of pathology, “anatomic, clinical, forensic, and neuropathology,” and a well-rounded specialist in death. When his boss, celebrity examiner Cyril Wecht (“in the autopsy business, Wecht was a rock star”), got into trouble for various specimens of publicity-hound overreach, Omalu was there to offer patient, stoical support. The student did not surpass the teacher in flashiness, but Omalu was a rock star all his own in studying the brain to determine a cause of death. Laskas’ (Creative Writing/Univ. of Pittsburgh; Hidden America, 2012, etc.) main topic is the horrific injuries wrought to the brains and bodies of football players on the field. Omalu’s study of the unfortunate brain of Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster, who died in 2002 at 50 of a supposed heart attack, brought new attention to the trauma of concussion. Laskas trades in sportwriter-ese, all staccato delivery full of tough guyisms and sports clichés: “He had played for fifteen seasons, a warrior’s warrior; he played in more games—two hundred twenty—than any other player in Steelers history. Undersized, tough, a big, burly white guy—a Pittsburgh kind of guy—the heart of the best team in history.” A little of that goes a long way, but Laskas, a Pittsburgher who first wrote of Omalu and his studies in a story in GQ, does sturdy work in keeping up with a grim story that the NFL most definitely did not want to see aired—not in Omalu’s professional publications in medical journals, nor, reportedly, on the big screen in the Will Smith vehicle based on this book.

Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading it.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8757-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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