An entertaining look at an emblematic figure of college football’s early days.



Mitchell (Hornets Never Lie, 1989) delivers a football-focused biography of Douglas “Peahead” Walker, a vibrant coach from the nascent days of big-time college football.

Mitchell starts with Walker’s early 1900s upbringing in Alabama and subsequent high school athletic achievements, starring as a quarterback and a shortstop. From there, Walker plays for a number of collegiate football teams (eligibility rules were a little more lax back then) and plays in and manages semipro baseball leagues across the East Coast. With his playing skills on the decline, Walker took a job in the early 1920s coaching at Atlantic Christian College, building a small athletic program—across three sports—into a team that could punch far above its weight class. Walker continued on to Elon University, finding similar success, before moving in the late 1930s to Wake Forest University, where he became famous. Against bigger and better-funded rivals such as Duke or the University of North Carolina, Walker was able to build his team into a perennial contender that garnered national attention though never quite broke through for a conference championship. After a somewhat acrimonious split with Wake Forest, Walker had a brief stop coaching at Yale before moving, strangely enough, to Montreal to coach the Canadian Football League’s Alouettes. The book abounds with details gleaned from Mitchell’s extensive interviewing and research, with illuminating looks at each one of Walker’s many stops. Especially interesting are the effects of the Great Depression and World War II on Walker’s program-building efforts. The biography focuses on the many humorous Walker stories and anecdotes—most only half-true—giving the book a light, conversational tone. Football fans will love the many factoids about the early days of the game, while less interested readers may grow tired of the game-by-game recapping of nearly every season that Walker coached.

An entertaining look at an emblematic figure of college football’s early days.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61846-019-6

Page Count: 476

Publisher: Library Partners Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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