A superb treat for all gridiron fans.

READ REVIEW

THE PERFECT PASS

AMERICAN GENIUS AND THE REINVENTION OF FOOTBALL

Think baseball is slow? Then imagine football without a passing offense, which, as historian/journalist Gwynne (Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson, 2014, etc.) ably shows, is no mere thought experiment.

In the early days of American football, quarterbacks did not have to pass the ball. The rules allowed them to, but, as the author writes, “overwhelmingly, they chose not to.” Of course, this meant it was mostly a running game. There were exceptions—Carlisle Indian School coach Pop Warner’s passing game being the textbook case—but it wasn’t until recent years that the passing game came into its own, courtesy of Gwynne’s coach heroes. Hal Mumme and his assistant Mike Leach led the small, not terribly distinguished school of Iowa Wesleyan to legendary status by developing a fast passing game that admitted only a few variations: “Hal’s ultra-minimal playbook,” writes the author, “allowed the quarterback and receivers to repeat it hundreds of times in practice.” The explanation that follows is a touch geeky, with mathematical variants based on man-to-man coverage in the classic Y-cross formation, and so forth, but that makes this book just the thing for the true football aficionado in the house. What makes the narrative more generally invaluable is its portrait of how football politics can bring down even the winningest coach. Although every team on the planet now emulates the playbook developed by the two coaches—a playbook that of course has a genealogy stretching back into football history—their own careers went into a downward spiral (beg pardon) when their numbers didn’t post well. Still, it is undeniable that the Air Raid, the fast passing game, and the frequency of the forward pass are now imprinted on football, especially, as Gwynne notes, on the college level though also in the NFL. That makes his subtitle all the more fitting, for undeniably, the two coaches changed the game—and brought glory to their institutions.

A superb treat for all gridiron fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1619-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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 sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the...

AN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINX HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

A concise, alternate history of the United States “about how people across the hemisphere wove together antislavery, anticolonial, pro-freedom, and pro-working-class movements against tremendous obstacles.”

In the latest in the publisher’s ReVisioning American History series, Ortiz (History/Univ. of Florida; Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, 2005, etc.) examines U.S. history through the lens of African-American and Latinx activists. Much of the American history taught in schools is limited to white America, leaving out the impact of non-European immigrants and indigenous peoples. The author corrects that error in a thorough look at the debt of gratitude we owe to the Haitian Revolution, the Mexican War of Independence, and the Cuban War of Independence, all struggles that helped lead to social democracy. Ortiz shows the history of the workers for what it really was: a fatal intertwining of slavery, racial capitalism, and imperialism. He states that the American Revolution began as a war of independence and became a war to preserve slavery. Thus, slavery is the foundation of American prosperity. With the end of slavery, imperialist America exported segregation laws and labor discrimination abroad. As we moved into Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, we stole their land for American corporations and used the Army to enforce draconian labor laws. This continued in the South and in California. The rise of agriculture could not have succeeded without cheap labor. Mexican workers were often preferred because, if they demanded rights, they could just be deported. Convict labor worked even better. The author points out the only way success has been gained is by organizing; a great example was the “Day without Immigrants” in 2006. Of course, as Ortiz rightly notes, much more work is necessary, especially since Jim Crow and Juan Crow are resurging as each political gain is met with “legal” countermeasures.

A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution.”

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-1310-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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