A generally appealing blend of eager sportswriting and sober cultural history.

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RISING TIDE

BEAR BRYANT, JOE NAMATH, AND DIXIE'S LAST QUARTER

The intertwining stories of a Southern football coaching legend, a star quarterback (who would craft his own legend) and the volatile civil rights movement in the early 1960s.

Roberts (History/Purdue Univ.; A Team for America: The Army–Navy Game that Rallied a Nation, 2012, etc.) teams with Krzemienski (History/Ball State Univ.), who has consulted for HBO sports documentaries and who hails from Beaver Falls, Pa., Namath’s hometown. The authors begin with Namath’s arrival in Tuscaloosa, where he would attend the University of Alabama. The school was not his first choice, but his SAT scores were below the requirements at Maryland, Notre Dame and others. The authors then catch us up to speed on Paul “Bear” Bryant’s life and career, the cultural history of football in the South and the steel-manufacturing life along the Beaver River (near where it dumps into the Ohio). Roberts and Krzemienski then proceed in steady chronology, pausing continually to rehearse the history of the civil rights movement. All the major moments are here (unusual in a sports book): the integration of the Southern universities, the Freedom Riders, the murder of James Meredith, the crusaders for segregation (Gov. George Wallace, Bull Connor), the pathetic pace of integration in Southern college sports. When the Crimson Tide ended the 1964 season ranked No. 1 in the nation, they did so without fielding any black players or playing any teams with any black players. Conventional sportswriting is here, too: accounts of games, individual plays, Namath’s knee injury, his draft and signing with the New York Jets. The authors sometimes leap over the line separating reporting from celebrating, offering continual paeans to Bryant’s character and to Namath’s abilities.

A generally appealing blend of eager sportswriting and sober cultural history.

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4555-2633-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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