A fine history of a vital period in the history of not only baseball, but America.

THE YEAR OF THE PITCHER

BOB GIBSON, DENNY MCLAIN, AND THE END OF BASEBALL'S GOLDEN AGE

Capturing baseball and its relationship to society in the 1960s on and off the field through the experiences of two teams and their two star pitchers.

The year 1968 represented the apex of a decade in which pitchers asserted dominance over hitters in Major League Baseball. In that epochal year, two men were ascendant in what was still America’s pastime. Bob Gibson (b. 1935) was the taciturn, intimidating African-American ace for the St. Louis Cardinals. Denny McLain (b. 1944) was the swaggering, self-involved white No. 1 pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. The two led their teams to pennants and a clash in that year’s World Series. The Cardinals were the defending champions, while the Tigers were desperate to reach a level that had recently eluded them. New York Times “Male Animal” columnist Pappu tells this story, but he explores so much more than the battle between two pitchers and their teams. The author is clearly building toward 1968 from the beginning, but in reality, that year was the culmination of longer trends, and Gibson, McLain, and the teams represent a lens through which to view baseball in the 1960s more broadly. Refreshingly, Pappu rejects clichés about baseball saving a struggling Detroit or baseball somehow bringing America together. Instead, the sport tended to follow society more than leading it. Furthermore, despite the subtitle, Pappu does not present a “golden age” narrative. If anything, he rejects such romantic thinking. While Detroit emerged as the winner of the 1968 World Series, it hardly brought a city together beyond the fleeting celebrations that any championship brings. Pappu is especially insightful in his discussions of issues of race that pervaded baseball and American society. While he follows a generally chronological narrative, many of the chapters address themes that require him to go backward and forward in time in ways that both muddle the narrative and occasionally lead him to repeat key facts and arguments. But those are minor quibbles in a solid book.

A fine history of a vital period in the history of not only baseball, but America.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-547-71927-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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