A fiery memoir/manifesto by an athlete with his heart in the right place.

THINGS THAT MAKE WHITE PEOPLE UNCOMFORTABLE

An outspoken activist athlete practically dares readers to think of professional football and its players in the same way again after finishing this book.

To say that Bennett, who co-authored this book with activist-minded Nation sports editor Zirin, has a chip on his shoulder would be an understatement. He was born to a teenage mother and raised by his father with his brother Martellus, also an outspoken pro football player. After the family split and he finished his college career at Texas A&M, he went undrafted by the NFL because he wasn’t considered “coachable”—i.e., he thought too independently and spoke his mind. He calls the NCAA “a gangster operation, a shakedown, and a system that works for everyone but the so-called student-athletes.” He notes how his brother has called the NFL “ 'Niggas For Lease’—and that’s the most brutally honest thing I’ve ever heard”—later, though, he engages in a nuanced analysis of that hateful epithet and its variations. He compares the dehumanizing flesh market of the NFL combine to “slave auctions,” staunchly defends Colin Kaepernick as an athletic hero, and makes an impassioned defense for taking a knee or locking arms during the national anthem. In places, the book reads like the author is trying to be as provocative as possible, but he ultimately shows a commendable seriousness of purpose, providing a call to arms to other pro athletes to use their platforms for cultural responsibility and to fans to understand the human dimension of the NFL and the price paid for the on-field violence that serves as their entertainment. Bennett is particularly incisive on branding and on the conditional nature of fandom: “I’ll be a football player for just a few more years,” he writes, “but I’ll be Black forever.” He ends on a moving note of reconciliation, as he bridges the gulf with his birth mother and tries to get his father, stepmother, and brother to do the same.

A fiery memoir/manifesto by an athlete with his heart in the right place.

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-60846-893-5

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Haymarket Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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