GOLF'S GREATEST CHAMPIONSHIP

THE 1960 U.S. OPEN

This gripping account of the 1960 US Open performs the near-impossible feat of making golf exciting and relevant even to those who have never picked up a club. Golf in 1960 was at an uneasy crossroads, poised between a past featuring great players who toiled in relative anonymity and a future of mass popularity fueled by promotion-savvy professionals. Played at the Cherry Hills course in the thin air of Denver, this Open featured such greats as Ben Hogan and ``Slammin' '' Sammy Snead (said to be the greatest golfer never to win the US Open), as well as near-greats and exciting journeymen, such as Billy Casper, and an unassuming but enormously talented 20-year-old Ohio State student named Jack Nicklaus. Most attention focused on Arnold Palmer, the '58 Open winner and the runner-up in '59, who, at the peak of his career, was accompanied at every move by a traveling gallery of fans the press had dubbed ``Arnie's Army.'' Going into the Open, Palmer was the bettors' favorite, but after the first two rounds, he sat far back in 15th place, eight strokes off the pace. The press, and even the ``Army,'' not yet fully acquainted with Palmer's grit and poise, had all but written off the star. But a furious charge during the third and fourth rounds netted Palmer one of the most satisfying and spectacular victories of his storied career, leaving him two strokes ahead of Nicklaus and four up on Hogan, who faded badly in the heat. Graubart skillfully toes the line between assuming too much or too little about the reader's familiarity with golf—which should be great comfort for readers who don't know what a ``mulligan'' is and are afraid to admit it. A terrific read for golf fanatics, for those just turning to the game, and for fans of all sports. (16 pages photos, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-55611-489-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Donald Fine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

WHY WE SWIM

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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