MY LIFE AS A FAN

The prolific Sheed (Baseball and Lesser Sports, 1991, and many others) on his childhood love of baseball, pitched with typical Sheedian wit and warmth. As a kid, Sheed had the baseball bug bad. This makes him no different from any American sandlot Johnny—except that Sheed was a British boy, tossed across the Atlantic at the age of nine in the initial throes of WW II. Moreover, any sports interest at all was a decided oddity in his ``egghead'' family. So when, in 1941, he discovered America's pastime, it became something of an obsession, a fetishistic frenzy of statistics and idolatries. His baseball heart grew larger as he aged: At first caught by the miserable Philadelphia Athletics, it expanded to take in the St. Louis Cardinals' Gas House Gang (Dizzy and Daffy Dean, et al.) and then the wacky, benighted Brooklyn Dodgers, rooting for which Sheed likens to taking ``the losing side in the Thirty Years War'' (a cross that Sheed carried until the ``diabolical'' Walter O'Malley heisted the Dodgers to California in 1958). Sheed enthuses about Leo Duroucher (``the name of his game was Uproar''); the ``miracle'' of Ted Williams; the fat bat of Jimmy Foxx. Quirky truths tumble out: that ``the teams that break your heart are the ones that play in funny stadiums'' (Cubs, Red Sox); that the advent of the slider was the ``Great Divide'' between the ancient and modern eras, a Rubicon that Williams and Musial crossed with ease but that ruined DiMaggio; that, truth be told, a 12-year-old understands baseball to its depths, and adult insight adds nothing to the mix. A true fan, with eyes wandering now and then to football (but ``football was work, like plowing snow; baseball was play'') and other sports, yet ever faithful to ``the perfect game, the one they play in heaven.''

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-76710-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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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

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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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