He knew his readers, too: a perfect gift for all those Washingtonians who miss reading Povich over their morning coffee.

READ REVIEW

ALL THOSE MORNINGS . . . AT THE POST

THE 20TH CENTURY IN SPORTS FROM FAMED WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST SHIRLEY POVICH

Monday morning quarterbacking—and much more—from the long-time Washington Post sportswriter.

As Post readers once knew, Shirley Povich was practically synonymous with the sports pages. Hired after caddying a golf match between New York Post publisher Joseph Pulitzer and Washington Post publisher Edward McLean and being genially argued over, Povich went to work in D.C. in 1922 in that most legendary of ways: “Go up to the city room,” an editor barked when he showed up, “and tell Mr. Fitzgerald you’re the new copyboy he’s been asking for.” Four years later, Povich was sports editor, and seven decades later, he was still at his desk, dying in 1998 just after finishing a column. Povich (the father of talk-show staple Maury) covered an extraordinary range of events, some history-making. One was the 1938 run at Pimlico between Seabiscuit and War Admiral. Another was the 1924 World Series, in which, for the first and only time, the Washington Senators won the title, thanks to pitcher Walter Johnson, who, writes Povich in what seems to be knockoff Hemingway, “tried to please the crowd. So he threw his speed balls with all the speed he could muster for four innings then he weakened in the fifth inning because he wanted to please the crowd with his speed balls.” Another was the 1936 Berlin Olympics, whose host’s disdain Povich, the son of Jewish refugees from tsarist Russia, took pains to record: He cites a Nazi Party paper’s scornful certainty that America could have won no medals without “black auxiliaries,” then adds, happily, a note that Norway beat the Third Reich in soccer 2–0. Povich was back in Germany for the 1972 Olympics, where he recorded the tragedy in Munich. Strong on being in the right place at the right time—and in sheer longevity—Povich lacked the fluency and style of contemporaries such as Red Smith and Ring Lardner. But, as this chock-full collection shows, he certainly knew his stuff.

He knew his readers, too: a perfect gift for all those Washingtonians who miss reading Povich over their morning coffee.

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-58648-315-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2005

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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading...

CONCUSSION

A maddening, well-constructed tale of medical discovery and corporate coverup, set in morgues, laboratories, courtrooms, and football fields.

Nigeria-born Bennet Omalu is perhaps an unlikely hero, a medical doctor board-certified in four areas of pathology, “anatomic, clinical, forensic, and neuropathology,” and a well-rounded specialist in death. When his boss, celebrity examiner Cyril Wecht (“in the autopsy business, Wecht was a rock star”), got into trouble for various specimens of publicity-hound overreach, Omalu was there to offer patient, stoical support. The student did not surpass the teacher in flashiness, but Omalu was a rock star all his own in studying the brain to determine a cause of death. Laskas’ (Creative Writing/Univ. of Pittsburgh; Hidden America, 2012, etc.) main topic is the horrific injuries wrought to the brains and bodies of football players on the field. Omalu’s study of the unfortunate brain of Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster, who died in 2002 at 50 of a supposed heart attack, brought new attention to the trauma of concussion. Laskas trades in sportwriter-ese, all staccato delivery full of tough guyisms and sports clichés: “He had played for fifteen seasons, a warrior’s warrior; he played in more games—two hundred twenty—than any other player in Steelers history. Undersized, tough, a big, burly white guy—a Pittsburgh kind of guy—the heart of the best team in history.” A little of that goes a long way, but Laskas, a Pittsburgher who first wrote of Omalu and his studies in a story in GQ, does sturdy work in keeping up with a grim story that the NFL most definitely did not want to see aired—not in Omalu’s professional publications in medical journals, nor, reportedly, on the big screen in the Will Smith vehicle based on this book.

Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading it.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8757-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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