An exhaustive survey that glows with insider/outsider appeal.



With the panache of a seasoned sportswriter, former New Yorker editor Conley (Stud: Adventures in Breeding, 2002) takes readers through the action sequences and behind the scenes into the lives of the world’s legendary stunt professionals.

Most viewers have seen only their backs as they flip cars, screech brakes, fall from bridges or bolt through walls of flame. Conley shows us their faces, fears, flubs and passions. Gone are the Keystone Kops days when Hollywood’s rowdy gag masters (a “gag” is what they call the dangerous stuff) were recruited from rodeos and the circus, winged it on the set and paid the price with frequent trips to the hospital. Generations later, in the age of extreme sports, high-tech action and professional stunt elitism, the grandsons and daughters of the originals carry on. Hanging out with well-known stuntpeople like Ronnie Rondell, Jeff Galpin, Mike Kirton and Debbie Evans, among many others, Conley extracts the stories behind Hollywood’s most celebrated gags from the industry’s most prominent adrenaline addicts. On the sets of The Bourne Supremacy, Tarantino’s Death Proof and The Dukes of Hazzard movie, he tracks down trends and learns how old-school players adjust to the times. In breezy, conversational prose, the author casually fuses a good measure of history with after-shoot barstool shoptalk from the legends. He even includes a hands-on chapter with a step-by-step lesson in how to perform spinouts à la The Italian Job in the comfort of one’s own cul-de-sac. Not content with mere observation or interviews with directors, actors, coordinators and career stuntmen, Conley goes for active participation. At one point, he gets himself soaked head-to-toe with gasoline and set aflame just to earn the book’s title, giving an all-new meaning to the term “immersion journalism.” Despite the temptation to glorify, his account remains levelheaded and evenhanded.

An exhaustive survey that glows with insider/outsider appeal.

Pub Date: July 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59691-023-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2008

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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