Book Review: Six: A Football Coach’s Journey to a National Record by Marc A. Rasmussen

It sounds a bit like a script for a television show or film under the Disney umbrella. A small high school in a town of 250 people decides to start a football team. The goalpost crossbars are built out of two by fours. The players don’t wear jerseys. They wear sweatshirts with the numbers painted […]

Book Review: The Long Night: William L. Shirer and the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by Steve Wick

It sticks out on almost any bookshelf. Like the cover, a white circle appears in the center of the jacket spine, the antithesis of the black that otherwise fills the space. In the midst of the circle is black again, but in the shape of the Nazi swastika. The title, The Rise and Fall of […]

Book Review: Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned by John A. Farrell

Statues and busts have advantages over the heroes and icons they depict. Any imperfections are superficial, unlike human flaws. Their character is fixed, not subject to further research and analysis. But anyone who insists folk heroes must be paragons of virtue ignores the reality of human nature. Even — and perhaps especially — those with […]

Short of the finalist lists again

Given that it’s the Board of Directors that really picks the finalists, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that, once again, none of my personal books of the year and at best one of the books I voted for is on the short list for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award. At least I’ve […]

2010 in books — by the numbers

2010 was a record year in one respect. I read more books this year than in any one year since I started keeping a book diary in 1976. This year’s total was 127, quite a bit higher than the 111 from last year, the previous record. I attribute the number to 2010 being the first […]

Book Review: Brief Lives: Leo Tolstoy by Anthony Briggs

There is an art to researching and writing biographies — at least good biographies. Although a work’s length and the amount of independent or original research may suggest how deeply a biographer delves into his subject, it certainly isn’t determinative of quality. At the same time, it is a field where the shorter the book, […]