A fine work of sports journalism, well worthy of its estimable subject.

THE MASTER

THE BRILLIANT CAREER OF ROGER FEDERER

A deeply reported and researched portrait of one of the greatest tennis players ever.

Clarey, a veteran tennis writer for the New York Times and International Herald Tribune, has interviewed Roger Federer many times in the past three decades. One of his subject’s most striking qualities is “that he will ask about you first and not in a perfunctory manner: inquiring about your own journey to this particular place, your own perceptions of the tournament, the country, the people.” That fundamental empathy and courtesy, Clarey later adds, makes Federer a born politician in the best sense—a fine attribute given that he is now deeply engaged in philanthropic work in South Africa. But Federer will be remembered foremost as a tennis player, and Clarey paints an incisive portrait of the abilities that made him a star: intentionality, focus, and attention. “Federer is widely perceived as a natural,” writes the author,” and yet he is a meticulous planner who has learned to embrace routine and self-discipline, plotting out his schedule well in advance and in considerable detail.” This is all the more remarkable because Federer is essentially his own manager, though he was well trained over the years by coaches who helped him become more analytical. The biographical rundown is by-the-numbers but cliché-free. Of more interest is Clarey’s framing of Federer’s career in the context of his competition. “When Federer emerged,” he writes, “the best players of the previous generation—Agassi and Sampras—were aging or in decline.” No such luck for Federer, for hot on his heels came Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, a triumvirate vying for the title of best tennis player of all time. “Federer versus Nadal has been the contemporary rivalry that attracted the most attention inside and outside tennis,” writes Clarey, “but Djokovic versus Nadal has been the most contested with Djokovic versus Federer close behind.” By his lights, it’s the last that’s the most meaningful.

A fine work of sports journalism, well worthy of its estimable subject.

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1926-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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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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