Higgins, Matt. Bird Dream: Adventures at the Extremes of Human Flight. Penguin Pr. Aug. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781594204654. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698163829. SPORTS
Journalist Higgins’s (Sports Illustrated for Kids) action-packed book introduces a global coterie of remarkable characters who have dared life and limb. The author describes escapades from Sixties stunt parachuting to more contemporary BASE jumping, in which one takes flight off of selected worldwide buildings and geographical points to the experience of wingsuit flying—the maximum challenge. He recounts the huge preparations, financial investments, psychological motivations, personal setbacks, and extraordinary aerial accomplishments that have gone into these extreme sports. Readers will learn that a number of international wingsuit clubs have informally coalesced into the Wingsuit Landing Project, brainchild of L.A. native Jeb Corliss Jr., whose members plan to leap from aircraft or fixed positions into space, glide miles through the air in the attitude of a flying squirrel, and land safely on contrived apparatuses without the use of parachutes. Corliss’s primary competitor, Englishman Gary Connery, along with supporters of the race from Finland, Brazil, South Africa, France, Australia, and Hollywood, round out Higgins’s cast of international enthusiasts. VERDICT An engrossing and exhaustively researched account of extremists who challenge failure and death on a regular basis. Highly recommended for ultimate jumpers in particular, sports enthusiasts in general, and all public libraries.
Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience. Chronicle. 2014. 368p. ed. by Shaun Usher. illus. index. ISBN 9781452134253. $40; ebk. ISBN 9781452140865. LIT
Based on the blog of the same name, this collection of letters is so handsome that it looks like a coffee-table book, but it’s more than that. In it, Queen Elizabeth II sends a note to President Dwight Eisenhower reflecting on Mamie and Ike’s visit to Balmoral Castle: she appends her recipe for scones. The chairman of the Whitehall Vigilance Committee receives a package with a note from Jack the Ripper accompanied by half a human kidney, pickled in wine: “I fried and ate it was very nise.” Gandhi appeals to Hitler as the only one who can avert the impending war. Bank robber Clyde Barrow tells Henry Ford he only drives Fords. Francis Crick alerts his son about DNA. A wife writes to her samurai husband on the eve of battle (he died in the fighting, she committed suicide) and an ex-slave addresses his former master. This treasure trove of fascinating material includes more than 125 letters from both the famous and the unknown dating as far back as 1340 BCE, many reproduced in facsimile. VERDICT A beautiful collection that should appeal to everyone. Start reading it and you’re lost.
Weeks, Jonathan. Mudville Madness: Fabulous Feats, Belligerent Behavior, and Erratic Episodes on the Diamond. Taylor: Rowman & Littlefield. Jun. 2014. 240p. photos. bibliog. ISBN 9781589799561. pap. $16.95. SPORTS
Weeks (Baseball’s Most Notorious Personalities) takes readers on a well-researched journey through the uncommon events, statistical anomalies, and urban legends that have sprouted up around the sport since the late 19th century. As his extensive list of references indicates, the author has scoured decades worth of box scores and baseball literature to compile stories of riots on the field, tragedies in the stands, and the quirkiest characters ever to grace the diamond. The book is organized chronologically, starting with anecdotes about the unsavory individuals who filled out the roster of the first professional league and progressing through tales about the game fans know and love today. Along the way, readers will discover little-known episodes involving baseball’s most famous players and also become acquainted with lesser-known figures who stand out for their funny, heartbreaking, or downright odd personalities. Weeks has an engaging, accessible style and a firm grasp of baseball vocabulary, which lends an authenticity to the text. VERDICT Appropriate for all ages; some anecdotes involve violence but they are neither graphic nor obscene. For baseball fans who enjoy learning about the sport’s history, this is a must.
A One-Two Punch
Gems, Gerald R. Boxing: A Concise History of the Sweet Science. Rowman & Littlefield. 2014. 382p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781442229907. $40; ebk. ISBN 9781442229914. SPORTS
Gems (health and physical education, North Central Coll., Naperville, IL; Sport and the Shaping of Italian-American Identity; The Athletic Crusade) traces boxing’s growth and influence from prehistory to today. Eschewing a strictly chronological account the author presents the sport through the lenses of such issues as race, ethnicity, social class, and religion. Even gender is considered (the sport illustrates the drive to prove one’s hypermasculinity as when Emile Griffith beat to the death in the ring Benny “Kid” Paret, who had the temerity to call Griffith a maricon [gay]). Female participation in the sport since the 1700s is examined as well, which is fortunate since boxing fans have all heard of Laila Ali, but who knew that Clara Bow, the “It Girl” of 1920s film, surreptitiously boxed? Many of the elements covered are interrelated so there is some overlap from chapter to chapter but that does nothing to damage the author’s presentation. VERDICT A unanimous decision for a heavily documented study that should also appeal to many readers of popular sports history.
Smith, Malissa. A History of Women’s Boxing. Rowman & Littlefield. Jul. 2014. 352p. photos. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781442229945. $38; ebk. ISBN 9781442229952. SPORTS
Blogger (Girlboxing) and amateur boxer Smith traces the sport as far back as early 18th-century England, unearthing sources documenting matches involving women with such intimidating nicknames as “Bruising Peg.” Serious women boxers have long had to counter the taint of risqueness in their sport; as one might expect, the growth of women’s boxing has not been a steady climb but has waxed and waned as public attitudes have changed. A surge in popularity in the 1990s led to the sport’s inclusion in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Smith enlivens her scholarly treatment with colorful anecdotes (the death threats once sent to women boxers), strange facts (U.S. jurisdictions forced fighters to wear aluminum bras), and lots of examples of press coverage illuminating societal attitudes toward female fisticuffs. Some 20 well-chosen photographs spotlight the sport’s past and present. The thorough bibliography should satisfy the most curious student. VERDICT A comprehensive, entertaining work for readers interested in women’s history or sports history.
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Cooper, Candie. Earringology: How To Make Dangles, Drops, Chandeliers & More. Lark: Sterling. Jun. 2014. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781454708186. pap. $24.95. Dec arts
Hicks, Alistair. The Global Art Compass: New Directions in 21st-Century Art. Thames & Hudson. 2014. 224p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500239193. $29.95. FINE ARTS
Lyden, Anne M. with others. A Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography. Getty. 2014. 232p. illus. index. notes. ISBN 9781606061558. $50. PHOTOG
Lynch, Geoffrey (text) & Evan Joseph & Mike Tauber (photos). Manhattan Classic: New York’s Finest Prewar Apartments. Princeton Architectural. 2014. 224p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781616891671. $50. ARCH
Morris, Pat with Joanna Ebenstein (photos). Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy. Blue Rider. 2014. 144p. illus. ISBN 9780399169441. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698175396. FINE ARTS
Szafran, Yvonne & others. Jackson Pollock’s Mural: The Transitional Moment. Getty. 2014. 113p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781606063231. $29.95. FINE ARTS
Battistella, Edwin L. Sorry About That: The Language of Public Apology. Oxford Univ. Jun. 2014. 232p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780199300914. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780199300938. LIT
Cameron, Allan. In Praise of the Garrulous. Vagabond Voices. Jun. 2014. 190p. index. ISBN 9781908251244. pap. $26.95. LIT
Davidson, Jenny. Reading Style: A Life in Sentences. Columbia Univ. Jun. 2014. 208p. ISBN 9780231168588. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780231537407. LIT
Levy, Deborah. Things I Don’t Want To Know: On Writing. Bloomsbury USA. Jun. 2014. 128p. ISBN 9781620405659. $20; ebk. ISBN 9781620405673. LIT
Orlovsky, Peter. Peter Orlovsky, a Life in Words: Intimate Chronicles of a Beat Writer. Paradigm. 2014. 352p. ed. by Bill Morgan. photos. ISBN 9781612055824. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781612055848. LIT
Sindelar, Nancy W. Influencing Hemingway: People and Places That Shaped His Life and Work. Rowman & Littlefield. Jun. 2014. 212p. photos. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780810892910. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780810892927. LIT
Davis, Tracey & Nina Bunche Pierce. Sammy Davis Jr: A Personal Journey with My Father. Running Pr. 2014. 208p. photos. filmog. index. ISBN 9780762450176. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780762450640. MUSIC
Nicholson, Stuart. Jazz and Culture in a Global Age. Univ. Pr. of New England. Jun. 2014. 312p. notes. ISBN 9781555537272. $85; pap. ISBN 9781555538446. $29.95. MUSIC
Petrusich, Amanda. Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records. Scribner. Jul. 2014. 272p. discog. index. ISBN 9781451667059. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781451667073. MUSIC
Stanley, Bob. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyoncé. Norton. Jul. 2014. 640p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393242690. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780393242706. MUSIC
Turan, Kenneth. Not To Be Missed: 54 Favorites from a Lifetime of Film. PublicAffairs. Jun. 2014. 368p. notes. index. ISBN 9781586483968. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781610393676. FILM
Ziegler, Philip. Olivier. MacLehose: Quercus. Jun. 2014. 352p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781623650421. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781623650438. FILM
Gumbrecht, Hans Ulrich. Our Broad Present: Time and Contemporary Culture. Columbia Univ. (Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture). Jun. 2014. 144p. notes. ISBN 9780231163606. $75; pap. ISBN 9780231163613. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780231537612. PHIL
Martinez, David Tomas. Hustle. Sarabande. 2014. 104p. ISBN 9781936747771. pap. $14.95. POETRY
Spirituality & Religion
Boff, Leonardo. Francis of Rome and Francis of Assisi: A New Spring in the Church. Orbis. Aug. 2014. 168p. tr. from Spanish by Dinah Livingstone. ISBN 9781626980839. pap. $18. REL
Bridgstock, Robert. The Youngest Bishop in England: Beneath the Surface of Mormonism. See Sharp Pr. 2014. 209p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781937276034. pap. $14.95. REL
Murray, Abdu H. Grand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major Worldviews. IVP. 2014. 240p. notes. ISBN 9780830836659. pap. $17; ebk. ISBN 9780830896219. REL
Sweeney, Jon M. Inventing Hell: Dante, the Bible, and Eternal Torment. Jericho: FaithWords. Jun. 2014. 208p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781455582242. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781455582235. REL
Zahnd, Brian. A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor’s Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace. David C Cook. Jun. 2014. 192p. notes. ISBN 9780781411189. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781434707925. REL
Sports & Recreation
Campomar, Andreas. Golazo! The Beautiful Game from the Aztecs to the World Cup; The Complete History of How Soccer Shaped Latin America. Riverhead. 2014. 288p. notes. index. ISBN 9781594485862. pap. $16. SPORTS
Hansen, James R. A Difficult Par: Robert Trent Jones Sr. and the Making of Modern Golf. Gotham. 2014. 512p. photos. index. ISBN 9781592408238. $32.50. SPORTS