January 31, 2014 |
In July 2009, a year before his death at age 99, John Wooden was named by the Sporting News as the top coach in the history of American sports. Not many argued with the selection. Over his 29-year career he won 664 of 826 games for a winning percentage of .804. From 1964 through 1975 his UCLA Bruins won 10 NCAA championships, and UCLA's games drew higher TV ratings than most NBA games. Surprising as it seems, Wooden, arguably the most influential coach in basketball history, has never had a definitive biography until now. In "Wooden: A Coach's Life," Seth Davis, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated and studio analyst for CBS Sports, has written a virtual cutaway view of the history and evolution of basketball in the form of a biography.
January 20, 2014 |
In 1984, Gary Hart experienced the whole meteoric-crash-and-burn phenomenon in textbook fashion. The Colorado senator and dark horse presidential candidate finished a distant second behind former Vice President Walter Mondale in the 1984 Iowa caucuses, losing 49% to 17%. But in the odd alchemy of presidential politics, Hart was declared the “winner” of the caucuses -- despite the 32-point blowout -- because he held Mondale below 50% and outperformed...
January 10, 2014 |
As school book fairs and children's library browsers can attest, there is no shortage of biographies aiming to educate young readers about the lives of historical figures, from George Washington to Jackie Robinson, Annie Oakley to Anne Frank, Helen Keller to Harry Houdini, Eleanor Roosevelt to Elvis Presley. This month, several new picture books about famous thinkers and doers - bold breakers of boundaries and blazers of trails - will further crowd the shelves. The best of these deal forthrightly with their subjects' complexities and contradictions, acknowledging that even heroes make mistakes and suffer setbacks and that one can be inspired by someone's successes while acknowledging their failings.
November 29, 2013 |
As a leading authority on the Beatles, researcher and author Mark Lewisohn is well aware that there have been far too many books written about the Fab Four. "In general terms and in biographical terms, I think the Beatles have been underserved by books," he said. Yet Lewisohn, 55, just contributed one more to the fray: the 944-page monster "Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years, Vol. 1" (Crown Archetype, $40). So what's left to say after the hundreds of books, documentaries and fictionalized biographical dramas about the Beatles?
November 5, 2013 |
"Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin'," which premieres Tuesday on PBS, inducts the (very) late guitarist, singer and songwriter into the PBS hall of "American Masters. " It's a sometimes-enlightening, regularly exciting, always watchable documentary that hits the main points of a short life. Still, viewers not already versed and invested in this music and milieu might want a little deeper context. Hendrix, who died at 27, has been gone for 43 years now. He was most assuredly a creature of his time, with his headbands and ruffles and psychedelic philosophizing, and yet he exists outside of time, one of those artists like Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis or Bill Monroe you could study forever, profitably, and never crack their secret.
October 14, 2013 |
British actress Vivien Leigh had that undefinable star quality. For 30 years, the exquisitely beautiful Leigh captivated film and theater audiences with her well-crafted, magnetic performances. In fact, Leigh won lead actress Oscars for creating two of the most indelible characters in screen history - the strong-willed, manipulative Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara in the beloved 1939 Civil War epic, "Gone With the Wind," and Tennessee Williams' fragile, faded Southern beauty Blanche DuBois in 1951's "A Streetcar Named Desire.