Torrents of information (good portions of which are genuinely interesting) cascade over readers, who will feel at times as...

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PINSTRIPE EMPIRE

THE NEW YORK YANKEES FROM BEFORE THE BABE TO AFTER THE BOSS

A former Yankees’ PR director and sports commentator charts the vicissitudes of the beloved/hated team once known as the Highlanders.

Appel (Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain, 2009, etc.) is no disinterested observer. He is a Yankees insider, and he has enviable contacts with the high and the low in Yankee history and occasionally slips easily into the first person. But he’s also unable to be critical when circumstance calls for it. His account, for example, of the slow desegregation of the Yankees is brief, dry and emotionless. Of greatest interest are Appel’s descriptions of the early years of the team—their first park, the great stars of Murderers’ Row (Ruth, Gehrig and company), the building—and later remodeling—of the original Yankee Stadium and its emotional razing eight decades later. The author also offers the odd detail (Yogi Berra used a woman’s falsie to pad his catcher’s mitt), close looks at the great and not-so-great Yankee managers (Huggins, Stengel, Houk and Torre among the former) and a careful chronicle of the bizarre hire-and-fire-and-rehire history of Billy Martin and the irascible George Steinbrenner. Appel also notes the contributions of PA announcers, National Anthem singers, groundskeepers and others. But the author rushes through the most recent decades, trying to do justice to Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and so many others—an effort highlighting the near impossibility of his task: cramming between the covers of a single book the complicated history of a most complicated franchise.

Torrents of information (good portions of which are genuinely interesting) cascade over readers, who will feel at times as if they’re trying to fill a water glass beneath Niagara Falls.

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60819-492-6

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading...

CONCUSSION

A maddening, well-constructed tale of medical discovery and corporate coverup, set in morgues, laboratories, courtrooms, and football fields.

Nigeria-born Bennet Omalu is perhaps an unlikely hero, a medical doctor board-certified in four areas of pathology, “anatomic, clinical, forensic, and neuropathology,” and a well-rounded specialist in death. When his boss, celebrity examiner Cyril Wecht (“in the autopsy business, Wecht was a rock star”), got into trouble for various specimens of publicity-hound overreach, Omalu was there to offer patient, stoical support. The student did not surpass the teacher in flashiness, but Omalu was a rock star all his own in studying the brain to determine a cause of death. Laskas’ (Creative Writing/Univ. of Pittsburgh; Hidden America, 2012, etc.) main topic is the horrific injuries wrought to the brains and bodies of football players on the field. Omalu’s study of the unfortunate brain of Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster, who died in 2002 at 50 of a supposed heart attack, brought new attention to the trauma of concussion. Laskas trades in sportwriter-ese, all staccato delivery full of tough guyisms and sports clichés: “He had played for fifteen seasons, a warrior’s warrior; he played in more games—two hundred twenty—than any other player in Steelers history. Undersized, tough, a big, burly white guy—a Pittsburgh kind of guy—the heart of the best team in history.” A little of that goes a long way, but Laskas, a Pittsburgher who first wrote of Omalu and his studies in a story in GQ, does sturdy work in keeping up with a grim story that the NFL most definitely did not want to see aired—not in Omalu’s professional publications in medical journals, nor, reportedly, on the big screen in the Will Smith vehicle based on this book.

Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading it.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8757-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich...

PERSIMMON WIND

A MARTIAL ARTIST'S JOURNEY IN JAPAN

A reflective and entertaining journey through Japan, as the author seeks to reconnect with his martial arts sensei.

Lowry is a student of koryu (not to be confused with kendo), a style of Japanese classical swordsmanship. Koryu is a medieval art, like Noh and the tea ceremony, a style of combat born on the battlefield–but more importantly, it’s a way to address the world (though an esoteric one: Lowry may well be the only American practicing the art in the United States). Indeed, present-day practitioners refrain from exercising its fatal possibilities. Lowry’s sensei left the U.S. to return to Japan, urging Lowry to follow. Though his life headed in a different direction, he never forgot his training–when the time was ripe, he journeyed to Japan to join his sensei. The narrative revolves around this pivotal decision, and it provides a warm center from which the author expounds on such topics as the glories of a Japanese bath; the evolution of the Samurai caste; the peculiarities of Japanese landscape architecture; the elements of proper sandal-tying; the custom of the premarital shenanigans called yobai; and the teachings of mikkyo Buddhism. He also includes the vital story of the sword–what it reveals about Japanese life and technology, social structure and aesthetic values, etiquette, apprenticeship and the process of education. Lowry’s seriousness lends an earnest cast to the proceedings, but he’s not without a sense of humor–commenting upon his accomplished slurping of noodles, a friend’s wife notes, “He really sucks!”

A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich tradition.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2005

ISBN: 1-890536-10-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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