In Indiana, Gildea shows, the yearly high-school basketball tournament is nothing less than an affirmation of the Hoosier way of life, one made of ``industrious, hospitable, down-home folk who enjoy popcorn, race cars and BASKETBALL.'' Every year since 1911, all high schools—from small towns to big cities—have gone head-to-head in the state championship tournament. Starting with this season, however, the Davids and the Goliaths must go their own ways in four tourneys bracketed by school enrollment. During the 199697 season, Washington Post sportswriter Gildea (When the Colts Belonged to Baltimore, 1994) criscrossed Indiana to follow the fortunes of players and schools in the final version of ``Hoosier Hysteria.'' Along the way, he immersed himself in tournament lore, gauged Hoosiers' sentiments about the new tournament's format, and assessed how it would alter Indiana's essential character. Gildea's story is steeped in nostalgia, and as he tells it, one can't help but imagine clean-cut boys in black canvas hightops lobbing set shots, just as they did in 1954 when fabled Milan High toppled all comers on the way to their improbable state crown. However, as Gildea points out, modern-day realities take a significantly different form: Schools occasionally ``recruit'' students from other communities or, in the case of Bloomington North High, students of other nations. And many standout players are already looking to take their game to the next level. Attendant inequities aside, some things never change. The '96'97 tourney, like so many before it, saw the Cinderella team of Delta High (student body 916) capture the state's imagination by playing its way into the finals (where it was crushed by a bigger, deeper, more talented team). Regardless of the outcome, this game only served to underscore what Indiana basketball stands to lose in the future: the chance each year to witness a potential legend in the making. As a veteran of the Milan championship squad said: ``David doesn't beat Goliath very often, that's why it's still a good story.''

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 1997

ISBN: 0-316-51967-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1997

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.


A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.


A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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