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BIRD WATCHING

ON PLAYING AND COACHING THE GAME I LOVE

Here’s what Bird couldn’t reveal in the sports pages about his back injury, his decision to coach the Pacers, his thoughts on fellow players and coaches, his honors, and more. Bird with Bob Ryan wrote Drive in 1989, but this one should win the tip-off. Only the first quarter of this articulate, candid book concentrates on Bird’s playing days, NBA to “Dream Team,” and is initially dominated by the back troubles that curtailed his spectacular career. We couldn’t know what kind of agony Bird was playing with or missing games for. Thanks to “with” author MacMullan, we learn the details of his condition, and how therapist Dan Dyrek became a more constant and intimate friend than any teammates, coaches, or rivals—many of whom, especially “Magic,” there are interesting anecdotes about. The pain was so bad that when he retired without fanfare in 1992 it was a happy occasion for this fierce competitor, and like a hick from French Lick, Ind., Bird removed his back brace, “took out my shotgun and blew it to pieces.” Because this superstar is genuinely, refreshingly shy, he didn’t want to play for the Olympics “in some kind of honorary role,” and he was embarrassed that his presence overshadowed the retirement of Parrish’s number and that fellow inductees in the Hall of Fame had to say “thank you all for inviting me to Larry’s party.” There are enough descriptions of Celtics and Pacers games, and playing against Michael Jordan, “Magic,” playoff teams and their coaches to keep basketball enthusiasts happy. The book is endearing for its humanity, however, as we see this poor son of a waitress and suicide realize his hoop dreams but put away his money and ego. (There is a foreword by Pat Riley.) Courtside seats to one of the game’s greatest, most driven and pained figures. (TV satellite tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-446-52464-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1999

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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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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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