The greatest Jewish baseball player since Sandy Koufax fuses sports autobiography with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

The moniker “average ballplayer” certainly did not apply to Green during his playing days. From his on-field exploits as a prolific slugger with a slender frame to his religion to his contemplative approach to the game, he defied categorization. In crafting his memoir, the author—with help from McAlpine (Mystery Box, 2003)—continues to flout convention. Rather than the standard post-retirement, paint-by-numbers tale of groupies and life on the road or addiction recovery and redemption, he offers an account of his philosophical approach to hitting, a method developed in response to a frustrating first few years in the big leagues. By developing a solitary routine that involved taking hundreds of swings off a tee, Green discovered a way to find inner stillness, to free his mind of distraction and focus on nothing but the act of hitting. The results were impressive: two All-Star appearances, a Silver Slugger award, and three top-10 finishes in MVP voting. The narrative describing the process and the insight that led to it, however, may not hit a home run with readers. Green’s a likable narrator, and his Eastern-tinged philosophical musings have merit, but it’s difficult to determine the intended audience. Baseball junkies will relish his discussion of how pitchers tip pitches, but are likely to tune out the Zen advice; Jewish fans looking for religious insight will be disappointed by their hero’s relatively secular worldview; and those seeking enlightenment aren’t likely to achieve a higher state of being by following the author’s recycled platitudes. Perfect for a semi-religious Jewish casual baseball fan in search of a Zen-lite guidebook…or maybe just Blue Jay, Dodger, Met and Diamondback fans who remember Green’s playing days fondly.


Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4391-9119-4

Page Count: 226

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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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 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...


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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