Captures Thorpe’s breathtaking highs and heartrending lows, but falls just short of his all-around excellence.

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NATIVE AMERICAN SON

THE LIFE AND SPORTING LEGEND OF JIM THORPE

An impeccably researched biography of one of the world’s greatest all-around athletes, a symbol of racial injustice and untapped potential.

This retrospective is not the first to tackle the complex life of Jim Thorpe (1888–1953), but it’s the most comprehensive. From his childhood in Oklahoma to career as a struggling actor a half-century later, journalist and biographer Buford (Burt Lancaster, 2000) chronicles a life filled with incomparable athletic achievements, government-sanctioned discrimination and wasted opportunities. Mischievous, overly generous, prone to alcoholism and habitually restless, Thorpe gained prominence on the gridiron at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, an Indian boarding school where the half-Caucasian, half-Indian halfback played for legendary coach Pop Warner. He exploded into public consciousness in 1912, leading Carlisle to a national championship and winning gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon in the Olympics. Controversy arose, however, as a prior dalliance in professional baseball would result in his medals being stripped (a lifelong struggle to restore them ensued, though they would not be returned until decades after his death). Stints as a professional baseball and football player followed, but Thorpe’s poor fielding precluded stardom in the former, while the latter’s nascent status resulted in less-lucrative opportunities than his talents warranted. After his prodigious athletic gifts deteriorated, he constantly struggled with marital problems, finding work and fiscal insolvency. The 1951 movie Jim Thorpe—All American immortalized him, though when he died two years later, more than four years passed before his remains were laid to rest in the newly christened Jim Thorpe, Pa.—a result of family, community and government squabbles. Buford’s attention to detail is largely a strength, but it occasionally breeds long stretches in which the minutiae of Thorpe’s endless cycle of hopeful new beginnings followed by failures to capitalize obscure the narrative core—the tragedy of a groundbreaking athlete succumbing to obstacles both external (and unjust) and internal (and self-inflicted).

Captures Thorpe’s breathtaking highs and heartrending lows, but falls just short of his all-around excellence.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-375-41324-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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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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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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