Definitive and exhaustive, animated by a profound respect and admiration.

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CONNIE MACK

THE TURBULENT AND TRIUMPHANT YEARS, 1915-1931

The second volume of the author’s massive biography of legendary baseball manager Connie Mack (1862–1956).

Macht’s first volume (Connie Mack and the Early Years of Baseball, 2007) covered the Hall of Famer’s life up to age 52, a period during which his team, the Philadelphia Athletics, won six pennants and three World Series titles. The current volume covers some wilderness and some promised-land years. His team had aged, so he decided to rebuild, a decision that cost him seven straight last-place finishes between 1915 and 1921. Mack eventually gave up his plan of building from the farm system and began buying players and trading. Between 1929 and 1931, the A’s won three consecutive pennants and two World Series with the sterling efforts of such iconic stars as Lefty Grove, Al Simmons, Mickey Cochrane and Jimmy Dykes. The aging Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb even played for Mack at the ends of their careers. Crusty Cobb, it seems, revered his manager. Appearing throughout the text are some of the greatest names in baseball—Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Eddie Collins, Walter Johnson and countless others. Moreover, Macht has done such meticulous research that readers will discover the precise layout of Mack’s office at Shibe Park as well as his home. The author combed period newspapers for stories about Mack, quotes extensively from personal letters of the principals, reproduces numerous encomiums to the manager offered by family, players, fans and competitors, describes exciting game action and political battles and rule changes and charts the surfaces of Mack’s diamond-keen baseball sense. In 650 pages he has no ill word for Mack and continually reminds us of his greatness. He was a respected husband, father, leader, role model and humanitarian—maybe even a hero.

Definitive and exhaustive, animated by a profound respect and admiration.

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8032-2039-3

Page Count: 664

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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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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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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