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Wooden has long stood as a giant in the world of college sports. In revealing the real man behind the legend, Davis has done...

A comprehensive and crisply written biography of a legendary coach.

John Wooden (1910–2010) may well be the closest the sports world has had to a secular saint in the last half-century. Widely venerated for both his accomplishments as an athlete and coach and for his stature as a human being, Wooden remained a universally admired figure for the remainder of his life. Sports Illustrated senior writer and CBS Sports studio analyst Davis (When March Went Mad: The Game that Transformed Basketball, 2009, etc.) delivers a massive biography that manages to bolster its subject while reminding readers that for all of Wooden’s greatness, he was a human being with human failings. Utilizing myriad interviews and an impressive array of published sources, the author traces Wooden from his humble childhood in Indiana through his overlooked playing career, which garnered him entry into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1960, to the coaching career that brought him his greatest glory. Wooden began coaching (and teaching English, his first love) at the high school level and spent two years coaching at Indiana State before moving on to UCLA, where he became quite likely the greatest college coach in history. Davis admires his subject, which is apt, since Wooden was unquestionably admirable. However, a true biographer strips away legend as much as burnishes it, and Davis is unflinching in doing so where necessary. Early in his coaching career, Wooden, widely respected for his views on race during his UCLA tenure, still could have done more for his sole black player at Indiana State, who faced Jim Crow on a number of occasions with Wooden’s tacit acquiescence. Long lauded for his personal integrity, he nonetheless clearly turned a blind eye to boosters who flouted NCAA rules in providing benefits to UCLA’s star players.

Wooden has long stood as a giant in the world of college sports. In revealing the real man behind the legend, Davis has done honor to the legacy of a true gentleman.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9280-6

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 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...

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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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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