Less groundbreaking than Paper Lion, but more perceptive and almost as entertaining.

A FEW SECONDS OF PANIC

A 5-FOOT-8, 170-POUND, 43-YEAR-OLD SPORTSWRITER PLAYS IN THE NFL

Channeling George Plimpton, a sportswriter dons pads and becomes the first journalist in more than 40 years to take the field alongside an NFL team.

Attempting a modern take on the classic Paper Lion could very easily have backfired on Wall Street Journal reporter Fatsis (Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players, 2001, etc.). He wins readers over, however, with his upfront acknowledgement of Plimpton’s feats and his engagingly self-deprecating prose. Despite being an aging weekend warrior with two bad knees and no organized football experience, the author began contacting NFL teams, seeking to join one as a kicker during training camp so that he could live and experience each day as a player. After considerable effort, he finally hooked on with the Denver Broncos, one of the league’s model franchises. Fatsis quickly found that his cursory understanding of how to kick was no match for the place-kicking expertise of the Broncos’s Jason Elam. Even more engrossing than his quest for proficiency, however, is the author’s insight into the modern NFL locker room. It’s a world of haves and have-nots: Bonus babies and superstars are the only ones who enjoy even a modicum of job security; fringe players fight through devastating injuries they don’t disclose for fear of losing their ever-tentative jobs. While it’s no secret that big-time sports are replete with homophobia, relentless hazing and testosterone both natural and artificial, the players’ fragile psyches and management’s everyone-is-replaceable mentality may surprise and unnerve even hardcore fans. It’s those revelations, and the author’s humanizing treatment of his larger-than-life teammates, that keep interest high—not the anticlimactic chronicle of his attempt to kick in a preseason game.

Less groundbreaking than Paper Lion, but more perceptive and almost as entertaining.

Pub Date: July 7, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59420-178-3

Page Count: 338

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2008

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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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