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THE THREE-YEAR SWIM CLUB

THE UNTOLD STORY OF MAUI'S SUGAR DITCH KIDS AND THEIR QUEST FOR OLYMPIC GLORY

Not without its flaws, but a good choice for fans of David Halberstam’s The Amateurs (1985), Daniel Boyne’s The Red Rose...

A brightly told story of the triumph of underdogs.

In 1937, Soichi Sakamoto formed the Three-Year Swim Club, whose members were children of workers living on a Hawaiian sugar plantation. Sakamoto, a teacher who could hardly swim, had seen them frolicking in a dirty, shallow ditch and made a proposition: “Three years of discipline. Three years of sacrifice. Three years of nothing except swimming” would yield great results. If they worked hard and cared enough, he was certain they could become members of the United States men’s swim team at the 1940 Olympic Games, to be held in Tokyo. Filmmaker, journalist, and nonfiction writer Checkoway (Little Sister: Searching for the Shadow World of Chinese Women, 1996, etc.) fashions the story of the tireless Sakamoto and his eager swimmers into an exuberant, well-researched, if sometimes overly detailed celebration of unlikely champions. As a coach, Sakamoto combined encouragement—he learned the power of positive thinking from Norman Vincent Peale—with intense attention to stroke technique and training regimens. With the help of former Olympians and enthusiastic sportswriters, he publicized his team and raised money to send them around the world to compete, and they performed astoundingly well. His star, Keo Nakama, for example, swam against 1,100 competitors in Sydney, Australia, coming in first in every race. Not surprisingly, where money and fame were at stake, rivals emerged. One in particular tried to wrest control of the team from Sakamoto, criticizing his methods and manipulating himself into a position of power. But Sakamoto persisted, even when the 1940 Olympics were cancelled after Japan invaded China and subsequent games were scratched because of war. Not until 1948 did members of the team—men as well as women—compete in the Olympics, proving themselves champions. Details about training, swim times, and the team’s travels occasionally overwhelm Checkoway’s tense, vivid, and inspiring narrative.

Not without its flaws, but a good choice for fans of David Halberstam’s The Amateurs (1985), Daniel Boyne’s The Red Rose Crew (2000), and similar books.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4555-2344-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


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  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

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

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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