Next book



A deeply reported, sensitively rendered story that avoids cliché and persuades us that there might indeed be such a thing as...

A longtime journalist for Sports Illustrated looks back at the tornado that devastated Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and the football team that helped the town heal.

On April 27, 2011, “one of the deadliest [tornadoes] in the history of the South” touched down in the state’s fifth-largest city, destroying more than 5,700 homes and businesses, taking 7,000 jobs, killing 53, injuring thousands and leaving almost no one unaffected. Anderson (The First Star: Red Grange and the Barnstorming Tour That Launched the NFL, 2009, etc.) spends the opening chapters setting the scene for that awful day, introducing most of the people whose stories unfold at greater length as he charts the next 12 months at the University of Alabama and in this tightknit town forever altered by the whirlwind. It’s a two-pronged tale: the cleanup and rebuilding of T-town, including the slow recovery of some who lost loved ones, and the help and inspiration supplied by the Crimson Tide football team that went on to win the national championship. Players and coaches spent the summer working with citizens on relief efforts, reassuring victims, raising funds and rallying National Guard troops. In the process, they developed extraordinary team chemistry and the conviction that they were playing for something bigger than themselves. Readers understandably weary of the redemption-through-sports theme should know that it works spectacularly well here. First, in football-crazed Alabama, passion for the sport and respect for players and coaches run deep. Anderson supplies just enough explanatory material about the Tide’s history, its fabled coaches and honored traditions to demonstrate how Nick Saban and his players were perfectly poised to assume an important leadership role. Second, the author wisely touches only lightly on the games, focusing instead on the team’s bond with the community and the genuine solace offered in the face of inexplicable tragedy.

A deeply reported, sensitively rendered story that avoids cliché and persuades us that there might indeed be such a thing as “football therapy.”

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61893-097-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Sports Illustrated Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

Next book



A quirky wonder of a book.

A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

Next book



American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

Close Quickview