HEART OF HOME

PEOPLE, WILDLIFE, PLACE

Kerasote's acclaimed Bloodties (1993) contrasted trophy and subsistence hunting; these essays stake out a middle ground between those poles, posing hard questions about the ethics of hunting and fishing practiced by America's ``recreational'' outdoorsmen. Though a columnist for Sports Afield, Kerasote loathes the image of rugged danger promoted by sporting mags. His outdoor adventures—hunting elk at home in Wyoming's Gros Ventres or chasing exotic trout while climbing mountains from the Himalayas to Patagonia—aim for something between extremes. As a boy he sought ``a niche between Theodore and John'' (Theodore Roosevelt, great white hunter and father of the conservation or ``wise-use'' ethic, and John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club and the preservation or ``no-use'' ethic); as a man he seeks a place between ``the far left of the animal welfare movement which wants to eradicate all fishing and hunting, and the far right of the hunting community, which wants to circle the wagons and defend all of it.'' He finds his ground by taking a wide view of our role in nature, a perspective that goes so far as to reject the standard division of matter into sentient and nonsentient. Where that leads him—toward questioning the morality of catch-and-release fishing (because increasing scientific evidence suggests fish feel pain) and apologizing to rocks and dead pines displaced by his cabin—may seem kooky to some. But his tough questions make it clear that everyone, vegetarians included, has a stake in death, and the questions are too fundamental and too-long unasked to dismiss. Kerasote's clear-eyed inquiry into the ethics of hunting and fishing, and, more importantly, the prescriptions he offers for saving those activities from overzealousness, is everything good outdoor writing should be: rigorous, thoughtful, free of sentiment but open to natural beauty, considerate of the sporting tradition but unstinting in its examination of the sustainability of current practices.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-679-45012-2

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

WHY WE SWIM

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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