The literary equivalent of an NFL pregame show: obnoxious, frequently incoherent and only engaging when it actually focuses...

SAPP ATTACK

A former All-Pro defensive lineman with a mouth as big as his massive frame dishes on life in the NFL trenches and various controversies that dogged his career.

One of the greatest defensive players of his era, Sapp helped transform the perpetually pathetic Tampa Bay Buccaneers into Super Bowl champions. He was also one of the game’s harder hitters, biggest talkers and more controversial figures. With assistance from Fisher, Sapp chronicles his poor upbringing in Apopka, Fla.; his starring role on a University of Miami team that included future NFL legend Ray Lewis and wrestling icon Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson; and his 13 seasons in the NFL. Unfortunately, his inimitable style can best be characterized as self-aggrandizing and far less hilarious than the author thinks it is. While he manages to share a few interesting insider stories—among them insight into the fines that teams hand out to offensive linemen caught loafing after an interception—there’s little doubt that the spotlight will focus on Sapp’s contention that Miami alumni, including Michael Irvin and Jim Kelly, contributed to a pool of money that was doled out to college players for making big plays. He downplays the incident, but his intimation that Irvin and others contributed up to $5,000 to the pot is sure to generate headlines. Elsewhere, Sapp attempts to explain the circumstances around failed drug tests and his arrest on domestic abuse charges—incidents, he contends, greatly exaggerated by a misinformed media—while failing to address—as a member of the media—his own apparently erroneous labeling of Jeremy Shockey as the “snitch” who blew the whistle on the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program.

The literary equivalent of an NFL pregame show: obnoxious, frequently incoherent and only engaging when it actually focuses on the game.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-250-00438-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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