An affecting testimonial to the power of action and of storytelling—to say nothing of a good right hook—to make real change.

12 ROUNDS IN LO'S GYM

BOXING AND MANHOOD IN APPALACHIA

Spirited memoir of life in a West Virginia backwater, where fight clubs keep youngsters from going off the rails.

It was a kid named Noah Milton—or maybe “his name was Noah and he was from Milton, West Virginia”—who was, writes Snyder (Rhetoric and Writing/Siena Coll.; The Rhetoric of Appalachian Identity, 2014), “the first person to kick my ass.” It wouldn’t be the last ass-kicking he received at the hands of beefy rednecks while standing up to his opponents in the rings of his father’s gym. He got knocked down, and he got up, always remembering his dad’s advice: “when you crawl through the ropes, you can’t hide from the truth,” whether it reveals you to be a fighter or a coward. Steeped in English literature, Snyder views the contest through a refined lens. While thinking of Beowulf, for instance, he recounts one neighbor, a “dope-smoking hippy” who bought the ring where Larry Holmes fought a storied bout, then had it painted red. A college friend is likened to Frankenstein’s monster, and he to the good doctor himself, since Snyder, delivered from temptation by virtue of logging time wailing the tar out of his contemporaries, was teaching the young man his tricks. “He was the type of guy who’d find a fight if one didn’t come looking for him,” writes the author appreciatively. Snyder has succeeded in melding the worlds of literature and the sweet science. As he writes, his first college essay was on how Joe Louis figured in Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, even as his father, who hit on the idea of boxing as a means of warding off juvenile delinquency, earned honor for his contributions at Lo’s Gym. Though the circumstances and surroundings are grim in meth-lab coal country, Snyder retains a pleasing but not Pollyannaish optimism throughout.

An affecting testimonial to the power of action and of storytelling—to say nothing of a good right hook—to make real change.

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-946684-12-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: West Virginia Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 35

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

Did you like this book?

more