A brisk account of a career and a culture that presages much of our current-day obsession with celebrity.

A SEASON IN THE SUN

THE RISE OF MICKEY MANTLE

Roberts (History/Purdue Univ.) and Smith (American History/Georgia Tech Univ.) follow their previous collaboration (Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, 2016) with a hybrid book about baseball legend Mickey Mantle (1931-1995).

The hybrid consists of a spotty biography of Mantle’s journey from small-town Oklahoma to the New York Yankees, a deep dive into the nature of American-style celebrity, and fascinating cameos by the men and women who influenced the impressionable Mantle as he rose to fame. The authors suggest that the task of upholding Yankee hegemony while being compared to Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio placed unbearable pressures on the 20-something Mantle. Predisposed to late-night partying and excessive alcohol consumption, Mantle often struggled to report to the baseball diamond. The serious physical injuries wracking his seemingly godlike physique also compromised his ability to reach maximum performance on a regular basis. One year in particular, 1956, was his finest, as Mantle led Major League Baseball in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in—the almost never achieved triple crown. Though the authors recount the 1956 season in detail that might bore those uninterested in baseball history, their narrative of off-field controversies should have no trouble holding the interest of all readers. Most sports journalists and other baseball insiders covered up for the naïve Mantle, feeling that dishonesty by omission served their audiences’ desire for hero worship. After 1956, as Mantle’s stardom peaked and then declined, revelations about his less-than-sterling behaviors seeped out. The publication of Ball Four (1970), the classic memoir by pitcher Jim Bouton, ended any remaining illusion of Mantle as a golden boy. When Mantle died relatively young in 1995, few who knew the real Mantle expressed shock.

A brisk account of a career and a culture that presages much of our current-day obsession with celebrity.

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-465-09442-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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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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