An engrossing tale of one shining moment in dark times.

READ REVIEW

TIGERLAND

1968-1969: A CITY DIVIDED, A NATION TORN APART, AND A MAGICAL SEASON OF HEALING

During the 1968-1969 school year, an all-black high school soared to win Ohio’s basketball and baseball championships.

Journalist Haygood (Media, Journalism, and Film/Miami Univ.; The Haygoods of Columbus: A Love Story, 2016, etc.), a Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, tells a story of perseverance, courage, and breathtaking talent as he recounts, in vibrant detail, the achievements of the Tigers, a basketball and baseball team at Columbus, Ohio’s inner-city East High School. Drawing on interviews with the athletes and their families, coaches, and teachers as well as published and archival sources, the author creates moving portraits of the teenagers and their undaunted coaches and supporters. “Black boys in a white world,” the students lived on the blighted side of town and had always attended underfunded schools; many had mothers who cleaned houses for wealthy whites. But they were uniquely, impressively talented athletes, and sports was a means of proving their worth. The Tigers could not have achieved their success without the help of two dedicated coaches: Bob Hart and Paul Pennell, both white, “big-hearted men who had a social conscience”; nor without the tireless and defiant efforts of Jack Gibbs, Columbus’ first black high school principal, an astute networker who roused support from parents, business owners, and community leaders. Because the East Side had the city’s highest crime rate, Gibbs made sure the students were kept too busy with school activities to get into mischief. East High “became part progressive laboratory, part military school, a place that had high expectations for student achievement.” Haygood dramatically renders the heady excitement of each game, the tense moments of a close contest, and the exuberant—tear-jerking—wins. The inspiring story of East High’s championship becomes even more astonishing in the context of endemic racism, which the author closely examines, and “the turmoil of a nation at war and in the midst of unrest,” roiled by the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy.

An engrossing tale of one shining moment in dark times.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3186-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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