An authoritative treatment of a true baseball immortal.



A fine biography of the legendary baseball Methuselah.

In 1945 Brooklyn Dodger’s general manager Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson, breaking a color barrier that had held for more than 75 years. Though revolutionary, Rickey’s selection overlooked a generation of Negro Leagues superstars, none bigger than Satchel Paige (1906–82), quite possibly the greatest pitcher ever. After a lengthy Negro Leagues career, tours barnstorming against the likes of Dizzy Dean and Bob Feller and seasons played in Cuba, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, by 1944 Paige had become the biggest attraction and the highest paid player in the game. Starting out as a blazing fastballer, he later developed an array of pitches that baffled hitters and delighted fans. He matched his on-field showmanship with a larger-than-life persona as a comic and aphorist. Along the way, he also developed a reputation as a contract jumper, crazy driver, mad fisherman, womanizer and all-around fast liver who bridled at Jim Crow’s rules. Although Paige had proven that white fans would come to see a black ballplayer, his age and reputation disqualified him as the impeccable figure Rickey needed for the tricky role of “first.” Journalist and biographer Tye (Rising from the Rails: Pullman Porters and the Making of the Black Middle Class, 2004, etc.) conducted more than 200 interviews with Paige’s former teammates to reconstruct this amazing career, in which the facts, including such basics as Paige’s birth date, the spelling of his last name and the origins of his sobriquet, require careful sifting from the mistakes, misinformation and myth. Tye never quite convinces us that Paige consciously constructed “a brilliantly defiant parody” in order to combat racism, but he’s correct that Paige knew his value and put himself first in a way that anticipated the superstars of today’s game. Well past his prime, Paige finally got a shot at the Majors with three teams—including an appearance for the Kansas City Athletics at age 59—and a plaque in Cooperstown in 1971.

An authoritative treatment of a true baseball immortal.

Pub Date: July 7, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6651-3

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2009

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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 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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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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