A pleasant, slight memoir with a happy ending.

The NPR Weekend Edition host offers an extended personal essay about his lifelong infatuation with the Chicago Cubs.

Even nonfans of Major League Baseball might know that the Cubs finally won the World Series this past October, a feat they hadn’t accomplished since 1908. For decades, fans and pundits spoke, often superstitiously, about the team’s curse. Simon (Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother and the Lessons of a Lifetime, 2015, etc.) is unquestionably a die-hard fan. “My politics, religion, and personal tastes change with whatever I learn from life,” he writes. “But being a Cubs fan is my nature, my heritage, and probably somewhere in my chromosomes. If you prick me, I’m quite sure I’ll bleed Cubby blue.” Over the years, the author bought into the myth that on the rare occasions when the Cubs were playing well, he needed to stay away from the stadium, TV broadcasts, and the radio play-by-play lest his attention would somehow cause the team to lose. Numerous devoted Cubs’ fans and baseball commentators have covered most of the material in this narrowly focused memoir. Occasionally, Simon delves into mostly forgotten Cubs’ history, such as the franchise’s slowness to hire black players after Jackie Robinson broke the sport’s racial barrier shortly after World War II. The author’s musings on the culture of Chicago and the overall nature of over-the-top sports fandom are more original and thus more enlightening. For example, Simon relates the saga of the Billy Goat Tavern, the legendary sports bar near Wrigley Field. The author is also informative about the commercial and cultural life that has developed near the stadium, an area eventually dubbed Wrigleyville. The author is a solid stylist, and his descriptions of Cubs’ players, managers, and owners resonate, as do his anecdotes about his wife and daughters as they try to understand his mania.

A pleasant, slight memoir with a happy ending.

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1803-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017


If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


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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