An impressively reported, smoothly written book that nonetheless feels airy in its content.

ELECTRIC OCTOBER

SEVEN WORLD SERIES GAMES, SIX LIVES, FIVE MINUTES OF FAME THAT LASTED FOREVER

Cook (The Dad Report: Fathers, Sons, and Baseball Families, 2017 etc.) chronicles the 1947 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers, approaching this narrow slice of sports history from an unusual angle.

That year’s Series resonates with the author for a few reasons: the quality of play in the two New York City ballparks, the historic nature of Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers becoming the first African-American to participate in the event, and the fact that it was the first televised Series. The overriding narrative line, however, involves the unexpectedly significant roles of four under-the-radar baseball players—Al Gionfriddo and Cookie Lavagetto for the Dodgers and Bill Bevens and Snuffy Stirnweiss for the Yankees—as well as the controversial managers for each team, Burt Shotton for the Dodgers (filling in for the suspended, better-known Leo Durocher) and Bucky Harris for the Yankees. Cook traces the lives of all six men before 1947 and then illuminates their roles during the Series. “The six of them played key roles in a World Series that Joe DiMaggio called ‘the most exciting ever.’ ” In the third portion of the book, the author explains how his brief interval in the spotlight affected each man until his death. To be sure, all of his subjects led interesting lives in one way or another, but how they reached the Major Leagues and what happened to each after 1947 may only appeal to die-hard fans of baseball history. As a result, Cook’s unusual approach might limit the audience. The narrative works best when the author narrates the drama of the seven-game series, which the Yankees won. For readers unfamiliar with the Robinson saga, the compact account might provide a gateway to further reading.

An impressively reported, smoothly written book that nonetheless feels airy in its content.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-11656-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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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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