Sparkling, exemplary sports biography, shedding new light on a storied figure in baseball history.

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THE BIG FELLA

BABE RUTH AND THE WORLD HE CREATED

Does the world need another biography of Babe Ruth (1895-1948)? If it’s this one, then the answer is an emphatic yes.

The ever excellent Leavy (The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood, 2010, etc.) brings her considerable depth of knowledge of sports history to her latest project. She also brings considerable empathy for a man who, though notably boorish, at least made an effort to be civilized. Ruth had reason not to be influenced by the world’s niceties. After all, as Leavy writes, he was only 7 when his parents sent him to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Orphans, Delinquent, Incorrigible, and Wayward Boys on the outskirts of Baltimore. As an adult, he was “six foot two and 215 pounds when he was in trim and made everyone else in uniform look like the boys who later played in youth leagues named for him.” He was also decidedly unsubtle: He smashed and hurled and fielded balls with a giant’s force, and he “taught America to think big—expect big.” Much of the narrative is a fine you-are-there reconstruction of Ruth’s big moments, including the 1927 race in which he smacked 60 home runs, led a Yankees four-game sweep of the World Series, and then went off barnstorming with friend and teammate Lou Gehrig. There’s tragic inevitability aplenty in that friendship, but Ruth’s end in particular, a terrible death to cancer, is particularly jarring. Fans of the latter-day Yankees should wince, too, at Ruth’s excoriation of the designated hitter. After another World Series sweep in 1929, Ruth “was back to offering opinions on things he knew about, expressing his disdain for a proposal to add a tenth hitter to the batting order to hit for the pitcher. He said it would take all the strategy out of the game.” A skilled strategist and nearly peerless player, Ruth proves himself worthy of, yes, yet another biography, this one warts-and-all but still admiring.

Sparkling, exemplary sports biography, shedding new light on a storied figure in baseball history.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-238022-7

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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