Baseball fans of whatever stripe will enjoy Perron’s homage to an organization and players too long overlooked.

COMEBACK SEASON

MY UNLIKELY STORY OF FRIENDSHIP WITH THE GREATEST LIVING NEGRO LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYERS

A fan’s notes on the Negro League of baseball lore.

“When I was growing up in Mobile, Alabama,” writes baseball great Hank Aaron in the foreword, “I taught myself how to hit by swinging at bottle caps with a broomstick.” Material conditions didn’t improve for him until he joined the Indianapolis Clowns and then the Atlanta Braves. Perron’s book is timely, inasmuch as Major League Baseball recently announced that it will include records from the Negro League in its overall statistics. The author, a young White man from the Boston suburbs, has built a formidable collection of artifacts from the time. That collecting instinct was honed over a youthful obsession with Nirvana, for which he learned how to code to build a fan website, as well as a love of old coins, antiques, and other sought-after items. His Negro League collection was built bit by bit, with travels all over the country to interview elderly athletes, interactions that “were personal, meaningful, and with players who had been overlooked by others.” Perron’s attention to players such as John “Mule” Miles, who “became legendary after he hit a home run in eleven straight games,” and Bill Bethea, who worked twice as hard as his teammates until an arm injury halted his pitching career, led to many friendships. Perhaps Perron’s greatest accomplishment, apart from building a collecting company and adding tremendously to the history of the Negro League, was to secure MLB pensions for veterans. “It surely sounded too good to be true, like winning the lottery with a ticket you hadn’t even purchased,” he writes after informing Joe Elliott, a star player from the 1950s, of the windfall. Perron delivers an enthusiastic and detailed account of the players’ work, and his, and it’s a pleasure to read.

Baseball fans of whatever stripe will enjoy Perron’s homage to an organization and players too long overlooked.

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9821-5360-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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