One of the more skilled biographies baseball fans could hope to find.

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CASEY STENGEL

BASEBALL'S GREATEST CHARACTER

Sports journalist Appel (Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from Before the Babe to After the Boss, 2012, etc.) delves deeply into the baseball career and personal life of Casey Stengel (1890-1975), a solid player and legendary manager.

Citing new material unavailable to previous Stengel biographers and chroniclers of the New York Yankees, the author offers an informative, smoothly written account of a complex and relentlessly interesting subject. In 2009, the Major League Baseball Network sponsored a campaign to identify the most memorable “character” in the sport’s long history. Stengel placed first, ahead of Yogi Berra, Babe Ruth, Satchel Paige, and numerous other legends. Presumably, Stengel won because of his occasional antics on the field and in the dugout as well as for the way he spoke, an idiom dubbed in the 1930s as “Stengelese”—the New York Times described it as a “unique way of turning short answers into run-on sentences.” However, Appel demonstrates convincingly that Stengel was no clown. He could speak clearly and grammatically when he chose to do so, he was an insightful student and teacher of baseball, he understood how to connect with others, he was a sophisticated investor who accumulated wealth, and he was a loving husband to his wife for decades. Despite an unusual physique, he demonstrated outstanding athleticism as a youth and rose quickly through the ranks of professional baseball as a hitter and outfielder. After retiring from active playing, his baseball intelligence led him to managing in the minor and major leagues. Though his records with those early teams are unimpressive, when the New York Yankees hired Stengel to manage the 1949 season, the legend for winning began, lasting through 1960. After those remarkable baseball seasons, Stengel reluctantly retired, only to return in 1962 to lead the newly created New York Mets franchise. Stengel is unquestionably one of baseball’s most significant characters, and Appel is the perfect fit to chronicle his life.

One of the more skilled biographies baseball fans could hope to find.

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-54047-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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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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UNTAMED

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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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