AMERICA'S QUARTERBACK

BART STARR AND THE RISE OF THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE

An admiring tribute to Bart Starr, who led the Green Bay Packers to NFL Championships in the 1960s and to easy victories in the first two Super Bowls.

Journalist Dunnavant (The Missing Ring: How Bear Bryant and the 1966 Alabama Crimson Tide Were Denied College Football's Most Elusive Prize, 2006, etc.) feigns no objectivity, offering a throwback 1940s-era sports biography that seems to have slipped through a time warp. The narrative begins with the observation that the efficient, stolid Starr has been underrated and then moves to his early life in the mid ’30s. Born to a militaristic father, Starr grew up in a home characterized by competition. Starr’s father encouraged his sons to compete with each other, favored Bart’s brother (who died in boyhood of tetanus) and only grudgingly came to deem worthy the athletic accomplishments of his surviving son. Dunnavant credits the elder Starr’s harsh household for Bart’s moral and athletic growth and throughout rails against the permissiveness of the ’60s. Continually, the author inserts Wikipedian updates on American culture in various years and decades, a technique that soon grows wearisome—as does his fondness for single-sentence paragraphs that seem designed to emphasize but instead add only white space to the narrative. Dunnavant dutifully and unremarkably chronicles Starr’s progress as a player through high school, the University of Alabama and the Packers—at each stage no one expected that he would excel—noting his assiduousness, praising his character (his devotion to his wife, his philanthropy) so often that he sounds like a doting press agent. The author tries to sugarcoat Starr’s later problems as a head coach and GM and, fittingly, ends with the words “thunderous ovation.” A fawning fan letter.

 

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-36349-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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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