Bookish fans of the sweet science will flock to this biography.

SMOKIN' JOE

THE LIFE OF JOE FRAZIER

A spirited biography of the thunder-punching boxer.

Former Philadelphia Daily News sportswriter Kram Jr. (Like Any Normal Day: A Story of Devotion, 2012) picks up where his late father left off with his reporting for Sports Illustrated on the long feud between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier (1944-2011), particularly as played out in 1975 in a celebrated match, the “Thrilla in Manila.” As the story opens, Frazier—called “Smokin’ Joe” after promising the press corps that he would “come out smokin’ ” in a 1967 prizefight—is in a reflective mood, surprisingly gentle for someone reputed to be so fierce. Yet Frazier earned every bit of that reputation: “His way was the hard way,” writes the author. “In the ring, he lived and died by the simple yet daring principle of engagement that in order to deliver one bone-crunching blow, it was too frequently necessary to absorb three in exchange.” Absorb the blows he did, while pounding just about everyone who came up against him, including Rocky-era Sylvester Stallone, who recalls “a thunderous left hook that was planted extremely deep in my body.” The author speculates that Frazier, who died in 2011 with no autopsy, may have been finally felled by chronic traumatic encephalopathy following years of concussive blows. The author covers all the bases while focusing, appropriately, on the long enmity between Frazier and Ali, who called the younger boxer a “gorilla" and played mind games, race cards, and all sorts of mischief, later claiming that he did it to stir up attention and sales at the box office. Frazier was thought never to have forgiven Ali for the barrage of insults, but the closing of the narrative finds the two boxers in a tender moment, albeit one that might have blown apart had the two been their younger, healthier selves. The narrative is sometimes by-the-numbers, but Kram pays appropriate homage to a fighter who, though lacking in finesse, dominated heavyweight boxing for nearly a decade.

Bookish fans of the sweet science will flock to this biography.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-265446-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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