A top-notch sports biography.

READ REVIEW

THE COLONEL AND HUG

THE PARTNERSHIP THAT TRANSFORMED THE NEW YORK YANKEES

Many baseball fans think it was Babe Ruth who elevated the fledgling (and flagging) New York Yankees team. In this authoritative new work, Steinberg and Spatz (1921: The Yankees, the Giants, and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York, 2010) shine a light on the indispensable contributions of two behind-the-scenes magicians.

Surely the Sultan of Swat has secured his place in the record books, but less is known about the owner and manager of those teams: Col. Jacob Ruppert Jr. and Miller Huggins, known colloquially as the “Colonel” and “Hug.” Ruppert inherited his father’s successful brewery and increased its profitability to become one of New York City’s wealthiest men, and in 1915, he bought the Yankees with partner Til Huston. Huggins was a diminutive ballplayer-turned-manager tasked with the impossible job of managing the heavy-hitting egotism of the 1920s Yankees, led by Ruth. Despite leading his loaded team to unprecedented success, Huggins suffered through naysayers, negative press, temperamental players, and a nervous breakdown. Regardless, Ruppert regarded the hiring of Huggins as “the first and most important step we took toward making the Yankees champions.” This relationship between owner and manager is what shines throughout the narrative. Though they were from two different worlds, they combined their efforts to change the game of baseball. Every anecdote contributes to a better understanding of these two men and their importance to sports history. The book is not only a thorough dual biography; it is also a lucid, well-written reminder of why we love baseball. “Baseball never operates in a vacuum,” write the authors, and they assemble a well-researched treasure of a book that not only chronicles the two men behind the game’s most iconic team, but the nation they helped shape as well.

A top-notch sports biography.

Pub Date: May 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8032-4865-6

Page Count: 520

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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