The definitive word on a loved, loathed, maddeningly complex broadcasting legend.

HOWARD COSELL

THE MAN, THE MYTH, AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF AMERICAN SPORTS

You could make a case that Howard Cosell (1918–1995) was the single most important sports broadcaster ever. You would be right.

In a 1978 poll designed to identify TV’s most and least popular personality, Cosell won both categories, a perfect measure of his ubiquity and the controversy he aroused. Today, with more sports competing for attention in a fractured media environment, it’s difficult to imagine a commentator dominating the landscape as Cosell did during the ’60s and ’70s. Though he’d made tentative forays into radio, Cosell was 38 before he abandoned his law practice to attempt a career in sports. This ferociously ambitious reporter, analyst, interviewer and play-by-play man, with his near photographic memory, nasal voice, staccato delivery and large and frequently preposterous vocabulary, prided himself on “telling it like it is.” At his peak, Cosell was everywhere on radio and TV, covering baseball, boxing and the Olympics, producing documentaries, penetrating deeper into the popular culture with sitcom appearances and movie roles. He announced to the world the assassination of John Lennon, presided over signal ’70s events like the tennis “Battle of the Sexes,” briefly hosted a prime-time variety show and even flirted with running for the Senate. From two platforms, especially, his ringside and reportorial coverage—and courageous defense—of the career of Muhammad Ali and his perch in the tumultuous Monday Night Football booth, Cosell colorfully demonstrated his capacity to hype and eventually overpower the events he covered. Contemptuous of sportswriters (they returned the hate), dismissive of colleagues and bosses—mediocrities, he called them—he attributed every slight to anti-Semitism or jealousy and ended up alienating even his stoutest friends and defenders, with the exception of his devoted and long-suffering wife. Ribowsky (Ain’t Too Proud to Beg: The Troubled Lives and Enduring Soul of the Temptations, 2010, etc.) attributes Cosell’s arrogance to a deep insecurity and an insatiable desire for acclaim. As he aged, “Humble Howard” descended into drink, cruelty and caricature, bitter at having wasted his talents in the “intellectual thimble” of sports.

The definitive word on a loved, loathed, maddeningly complex broadcasting legend.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-393-08017-9

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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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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