BOUTS OF MANIA

ALI, FRAZIER, AND FOREMAN—AND AN AMERICA ON THE ROPES

Plimpton or Mailer it isn’t—not even Cosell. Still, fans of the sweet science should enjoy this shaggy yarn of a bygone...

Former Sports Illustrated senior writer Hoffer (Something in the Air: American Passion and Defiance in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, 2009, etc.) turns in a sprawling piece on the “riotous roundelay” that was the battle of three boxers for the world championship.

The author locates that competition within brackets of great historical events: the publication of the Pentagon Papers, the fall of Saigon and, in between, Kent State, when, in a curious turn of phrase, he notes that National Guardsmen killed four college students “for no real good reason.” That throwaway phrase is symptomatic, for while Hoffer certainly knows his story and his actors, he infuses it with a know-it-all casualness that can be grating at times. Would Ali, Frazier and Foreman really have been “athletic footnotes” in another era? Not likely: All three were staggering, scary, brilliant fighters, each in his own way, with Ali (whose conversion to Islam, Hoffer writes, might have branded him as a “religious kook” had he not redeemed himself by refusing to serve in the military) blessed with a devastatingly poetic wit atop it all. Hoffer’s sociology is suspect and too often heavy-handed. His account of the actual fighting, though, is immediate and arresting. The same holds for his portrait of the swirling sideshow that surrounded the three, with Ali delivering, for instance, “an unrelenting attack on Frazier’s intelligence,” Frazier responding with “classic menace” and Foreman coolly assessing the weird international arenas in which they were thrust. There’s not much here that can’t be found in the grand documentary film When We Were Kings, but Hoffer offers plenty of reasons why we should still remember, and esteem, the lethal trio for more than bucking the draft and hawking stovetop grills.

Plimpton or Mailer it isn’t—not even Cosell. Still, fans of the sweet science should enjoy this shaggy yarn of a bygone contest and era.

Pub Date: July 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-306-82222-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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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