Exciting Summer In Store For Book Lovers; New Kentucky Sports Books On Shelf 

By Jamie H. Vaught



Are you looking for a book or two for your upcoming vacation?  Perhaps we can help. 


Here's the latest edition of the Bookshelf column about the recently-published nonfiction books as we enter our summer months.  


As usual, there is a good collection of books, including the ones on Kentucky sports that you may want to take a look at your favorite bookstore or on the Internet.  In addition, there is a volume about a veteran sportswriter who covers the Cincinnati Reds. 


Our list, beginning with the Kentucky books, is as follows:


--"Kentucky Colonels: Shots from the Sidelines" (Acclaim Press, $34.95) by Mark Gordon and Lloyd "Pink" Gardner is almost a pictorial history of the popular pro basketball team in Louisville which played during the late 1960s and early 1970s.  The stunning 224-page hardcover is loaded with over 400 color and black & white photos taken by Gordon, who was the team's offical photographer.  Most of the photos have not been seen before.  Gardner, who was the Colonels' trainer, wrote the captions for the pictures.  This book definitely brings back fond memories to the fans who loved the Colonels of the old American Basketball Association, which disbanded and sent four teams to the NBA.  It's a very nice addition to have in your sports library.


--"Kentucky High School Basketball Encyclopedia 1916-2013" (Acclaim Press, $39.95) is a recently-published book that is perhaps the most comprehensive listing of Kentucky prep basketball records and facts that I have ever seen.  The 632-page book is compiled by statistician and editor Jeff Bridgeman, who spent 10 years researching and putting together this massive effort.  The hardcover includes the records of statistics of every high school team (boys and girls) that are listed by year from 1916 to 2013, Coach of the Year winners, Mr. & Miss Basketball winners, All A State Classic participants and scores, All-State teams, Sweet Sixteen All-Tournament teams, numerous team pictures, among others.  And, for myself, I was able to locate my immediate relative who was the basketball coach at a tiny high school during the late 1950s. Nevertheless, if you are a high school hoops junkie, it is a nice copy to have.


--"Sinister Influences: Kentucky's Fabulous Five and the Point-Shaving Scandal of 1951" (Acclaim Press, $24.95) by Ron Elliott is a fascinating 237-page historical piece about one of UK's darkest chapters in basketball as well as the Fabulous Five players of Ralph Beard, Wah Wah Jones, Alex Groza, Kenny Rollins and Cliff Barker as well as others, including Bill Spivey.  The book also includes statistics and many obscure details of the scandal which cost the players their vocation and nearly prematurely ended coach Adolph Rupp’s career. Kentucky was one of several schools involved in the scandal.  There were many interesting tidbits that I either had forgotten or didn't know.  I'm also honored to have written a blurb on the back page for this book, which is an entertaining look at UK basketball over 60 years ago. You certainly can tell the author did his homework and the hardcover would make a nice gift for a Wildcat hoops fan. 


--"Better Than Gold: Olympian Kenny Davis and the Most Controversial Basketball Game in History" (Acclaim Press, $26.95) by Gary P. West along with Kenny Davis is a true story about how a sharp-shooting farm boy from Kentucky ended up on world's biggest stage, the 1972 Olympics. Davis, who is from Monticello in Wayne County, played hoops at Georgetown College where he received All-American honors and later served as a captain of the USA squad which refused to accept silver medals.  West also wrote highly-popular "Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association: The Real Story of a Team Left Behind."


--"The Real McCoy: My Half-Century with the Cincinnati Reds" (Orange Frazer Press, $19.95) by Hal McCoy is an entertaining memoir about the Cincinnati Reds.  McCoy, a longtime Hall of Fame sportswriter who is also legally blind, gives the fans an inside-the-dugout look that never reach the daily newspaper: the politics, the personalities, the hi-jinks, the x-rated scenes -- all the classic ballpark stuff known only to those on the field.


--"The Game: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball's Power Brokers" (Little, Brown and Company, $30.00) by Jon Pessah is a fly-on-the-wall account of the men and events that truly changed MLB over the past 20 years.  The author, a founding editor of ESPN the Magazine, spent hundreds of hours of interviews with more than 150 people in a five-year period.  The 648-page hardcover discusses high-stakes labor wars, remarkable athletic feats, back-room political deals, drug scandals and abuse of power in baseball.  It's a revealing book that you may want to check at your favorite bookstore.


--"No Excuses" (Jeter Publishing, $25.00) by Derrick Coleman Jr. with Marcus Brotherton is an inspirational autobiography about the fullback for Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks because of his deafness. With his upbeat and positive attitude, Coleman has managed to overcome the obstacles put before him. 


--"Pedro" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28.00) by Pedro Martinez with Michael Silverman is a bold memoir from one of the most dominant and colorful pitchers to ever play the game. Before Martinez was the eight-time All-Star, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series champion, he was just a little kid from the Dominican Republic who sat under a mango tree and dreamed of playing professional ball. He now opens up for the first time to tell his amazing story.


--"The Story: A Reporter's Journey" (Simon & Schuster, $27.00) by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Judith Miller is a candid memoir about her foreign and investigative reporting during one of the most politically polarized periods in U.S. history.  Miller, who spent 28 years for the New York Times, breaks her long silence and tells the real story behind her reporting which cited the evidence that led America to invade Iraq. Miller was once jailed to protect her sources in the Scooter Libby investigation of the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.


--"The Real-Life MBA" (Harper Business, $29.99) by Jack and Suzy Welch is a modern, essential guide for everyone in business today, exploring the most pressing challenges related to creating winning strategies, leading and managing others, and building a thriving career. The authors draw on their experiences to address the biggest problems facing modern management. Jack Welch is the Executive Chairman of the Jack Welch Management Institute, an online MBA school with more than 1,000 students. For 20 years, he was chairman and CEO of General Electric Company, which was named the world's most valuable corporation and was consistently voted the most admired company in the world by Fortune magazine.


--"God, Guns, Grits and Gravey" (St. Martin's Press, $26.99) by ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is a personal reflection on America as it used to be, as it is today and what it could become again. Through the eyes of the author who is also an ordainsed Southern Baptist minister, the 258-page hardcover explores today's divided nation in many issues such as race, class, politics, religion, gender and age.


--"Becoming Steve Jobs" (Crown Business, $30.00) by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli is another biography about the late visionary leader of Apple.  But the 447-page effort written by two authors who have deep connections to the tech world shows Jobs in a different light.  How did a young man so reckless and cavalier that he was exiled from the company he founded become the most effective visionary business leader of our time?  The book is basically a fresh, in-depth portrait of Jobs, who was often mischaracterized in unflattering terms.


--"Billy Martin: Baseball's Flawed Genius" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30.00) by Bill Pennington is a new biography about the controversial manager, who was known for his combative and intimidating personality.  The 530-page hardcover is written by an award-winning sportswriter who knew Martin well, working closely with him for five years of his life.  The author interviewed more than 225 people from family and childhood friends to Yankees players and coaches to come up with a new insightful perspective on Martin. The former New York legend tragically passed away in a car accident 25 years ago.


--"Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty" (Simon & Schuster, $27.50) by Charles Leerhsen is a fascinating and authoritative biography of one of baseball's most controversial stars.  Nicknamed the "Georgia Peach," Cobb -- who still has the highest career batting average (.367) of all time after retiring in 1928 -- was a fiery competitor.   After his death in 1961, Cobb's reputation took a big hit as folks began calling him a racist, among other things.  So who is the real Ty Cobb? After research and traveling to Georgia and Detroit, the author set the record straight and came up with a remarkable 449-page effort that shows the true Cobb.


--"Reagan: The Life" (Doubleday, $35.00) by H.W. Brands is a new biography about two-term President Ronald Reagan who led the U.S. during the 1980s.  A well-known historian, Brands used archival sources that were not available to other authors and drew dozens of interviews with surviving members of the Reagan administration.  According to the publisher, the 806-page book is a storytelling triumph, an irresistable portrait of an underestimated politician whose pragmatic leadership and steadfast vision transformed the nation.


Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime columnist in Kentucky, is the author of four books about UK basketball.  He is the editor of KySportsStyle.com online magazine and a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro.  You can follow him on Twitter @KySportsStyle. He can be reached via e-mail at KySportsStyle@gmail.com.

Female Power

Do you like to read about powerful women? Fascinating books about Arianna Huffington, Michelle Obama, Dana Perino & Marissa Mayer have been published recently. See the accompanying story about these books below.  

Do you enjoy reading about women in power? 

Here's a brief list of titles that you might enjoy. The books about powerful women in business and politics are as follows:


--"And the Good News Is . . . " (Twelve, $26.00) by former White House press secretary Dana Perino is not only a political book, but also part memoir and part lessons and advice from her unusual road from a Wyoming ranch to the White Bush when George W. Bush was the President.  Some of the interesting tidbits about Perino include her early days as a country music disc jockey from 2 to 6 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays while in school in Pueblo, Colorado, and meeting her future husband on an airplane.  The book also reveals a personal side of the story of how press secretary Scott McClellan went on to write a score-settling book after he left the White House, and how President Bush encouraged her to forgive him.  


--"Marissa Mayer And The Fight To Save Yahoo!" (Twelve, $30.00) by Nicholas Carlson is the inside story of how Yahoo got into such awful shape in the first place, Marissa Mayer's controversial rise at Google, and her desperate fight to save an Internet icon.  Before becoming Yahoo's CEO in 2012 at the age of 37, Mayer, a Stanford University trained-engineer, was a star executive at rival Google.  When she came to Yahoo, the employess were happy.  But, one year later, things were different and Yahoo employees were not happy.  As Mayer tried to remake Yahoo from a content company to a tech company, an internal civil war erupted. Carlson, the author, is Business Insider's chief correspondent and his investigative reporting rewrote the histories of Facebook, Twitter and Groupon.


--"Michelle Obama: A Life" (Knopf, $27.95) by Peter Slevin is the first comprehensive account of the life and times of President Obama's wife and the most unlikely first lady in modern American history. The author follows Mrs. Obama to the White House from her working-class childhood on Chicago’s largely segregated South Side.   The book also takes a look of the drama of Barack’s historic campaigns and the harsh glare faced by Michelle in a role both relentlessly public and not entirely of her choosing. A former writer for the Washington Post, Slevin, now a journalism associate professor, offers a fresh and compelling view of the White House years when Mrs. Obama casts herself as mentor, teacher, champion of nutrition, supporter of military families, and fervent opponent of inequality. 


--"Thrive" (Harmony Books, $14.99) by Arianna Huffington, one of the world's most influential women, is now available in paperback version.   The personal book is about Huffington's own challenges with managing time and prioritizing the demands of a media career (Huffington Post Media Group), and raising two daughters.  Instead of focusing on money and power, she says people need to create a balanced life of well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving. Huffington's outlook on life changed in 2007 when she collapsed from exhaustion.


--Jamie H. Vaught