BRINGING THE HEAT

A PRO FOOTBALL TEAM'S QUEST FOR GLORY, FAME, IMMORTALITY, AND A BIGGER PIECE OF THE ACTION

An ambitious, remarkably frank, but overlong and digressive chronicle of the Philadelphia Eagles' 1992 season by a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter. Bowden begins and ends in the middle of the Eagles' dramatic come-from-behind playoff victory over New Orleans in January 1993. In between are 400 pages of reconstruction of behind-the-scenes goings-on, as well as highly personal profiles of the players, coaches, and owner Norman Braman. Just prior to the start of the football season, All-Pro defensive lineman Jerome Brown was killed in an auto accident. The talented, irrepressible Brown was mouthy and loud, often flabby from poor workout habits, and apparently determined to set an NFL record for paternity suits and speeding tickets. His locker became a shrine, and his loss helped bring to light the team's barely concealed divisions and animosities. Linebacker Seth Joyner became openly insulting to ``franchise quarterback'' Randall (Randoll, Joyner called him) Cunningham, accusing him publicly of consistently letting the team down in the clutch. Joyner and the rest of the defense were ``Buddy's Boys,'' hard-nosed athletes assembled by fiery, controversial Buddy Ryan, axed the previous year and replaced as head coach by the team's relatively inexperienced offensive coordinator, Rich Kotite—soon dubbed Coach Uptight by the press. As the season progressed and the team disintegrated, Bowden reenacts a wild fight in the stands between defensive back Wes Hopkins's wife and mistress and other fairly irrelevant outbursts. His recounting of the more pertinent football controversies, such as the debate over whether Cunningham or Jim McMahon should be quarterback, demonstrate the depth of the venomous feelings within the team. By midseason, even the press was urging the players to ``shut up and play football.'' Bowden's writing has an it's-all-so-amusing edge. As incident- laden and wacky as the season was, he's too long-winded to sustain interest. (16 pages photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-42841-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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In these insightfully droll essays, Gierach shows us how fishing offers plenty of time to think things over.

DUMB LUCK AND THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

The latest collection of interrelated essays by the veteran fishing writer.

As in his previous books—from The View From Rat Lake through All Fishermen Are Liars—Gierach hones in on the ups and downs of fishing, and those looking for how-to tips will find plenty here on rods, flies, guides, streams, and pretty much everything else that informs the fishing life. It is the everything else that has earned Gierach the following of fellow writers and legions of readers who may not even fish but are drawn to his musings on community, culture, the natural world, and the seasons of life. In one representatively poetic passage, he writes, “it was a chilly fall afternoon with the leaves changing, the current whispering, and a pale moon in a daytime sky. The river seemed inscrutable, but alive with possibility.” Gierach writes about both patience and process, and he describes the long spells between catches as the fisherman’s equivalent of writer’s block. Even when catching fish is the point, it almost seems beside the point (anglers will understand that sentiment): At the end of one essay, he writes, “I was cold, bored, hungry, and fishless, but there was still nowhere else I’d have rather been—something anyone who fishes will understand.” Most readers will be profoundly moved by the meditation on mortality within the blandly titled “Up in Michigan,” a character study of a man dying of cancer. Though the author had known and been fishing with him for three decades, his reticence kept anyone from knowing him too well. Still, writes Gierach, “I came to think of [his] glancing pronouncements as Michigan haiku: brief, no more than obliquely revealing, and oddly beautiful.” Ultimately, the man was focused on settling accounts, getting in one last fishing trip, and then planning to “sit in the sun and think things over until it’s time for hospice.”

In these insightfully droll essays, Gierach shows us how fishing offers plenty of time to think things over.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6858-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

WHY WE SWIM

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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