Power Forward: My Presidential Education by Reggie Love

Power Forward: My Presidential EducationReggie Love’s memoir, Power Forward: My Presidential Education, served as our book club’s May pick. A summer slacker, I opted for lazing in the backyard with another book rather than go to the discussion of this one, and apparently didn’t miss much by doing so.

Formerly a well-known Duke basketball and football player, Love became President Obama’s bodyman/personal assistant when he was still a Senator and acted in that capacity until his second term in the presidency. Love’s memoir fluctuates between sporting analogies, humorous (and not-so-humorous) campaign trail-to-Oval Office anecdotes, and character development affirmations. Unfortunately, this makes for a disjointed story, with each chapter ending on a “moral of the story” note that fails to coalesce to a larger point.

This book is not a deep analysis, but Love does offer some insightful commentary on politics. More so than Love himself, Obama is the star of this book. Unless you’re an avid Duke fan, most readers are probably picking this up for a its new, more personal perspective on the President. It’s an easy read, if not particularly entertaining or poignant.

3 Stars

Jack McCallum’s Dream Team

Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball ForeverI know, I know. Nowhere in my About Me or About My Blog did I say I’m a sports fanatic. Because I’m not. I can barely tell a basketball from a football. I do have a penchant for tear-jerking, inspirational sports films, and Space Jam was my favorite childhood movie, but this book doesn’t quite fit into that category. So how’d I get here?

I blame my cousin. He tempted me with his Kindle, selling it to me at a cheap rate WITH books so he could update (and managed to do so in spite of my strong dislike of Amazon). So naturally I didn’t want to buy more books when I had free books. And all was well until I was on an eternally-long cross-country flight and realized I had run out of books that I was actually interested in reading. Full of trepidation and desperation, I turned to this book.

And Jack McCallum delivered. Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever was insanely good. Full of anecdotes and interviews, it was extremely well-written and balanced between truth and perception. Readers, especially casual basketball viewers like myself, benefit tremendously from the author’s wealth of knowledge since he was actually there for most of the dream team magic. McCallum served as sports writer for Sports Illustrated throughout that period and boy did he get the scoop.

The best part was that most of the key players on and off the court are still alive. Twenty years since the greatest team existed, they all came together on paper. It was fascinating to see such big egos form and clash and combine on the sheet, and must’ve been even more riveting in person. McCallum really makes each individual come alive as people, not just as superstar athletes.

The benefit of hindsight is also in the speculation and in the revelation. What made this team so special? How did the potent combination of star power and patriotic dreams come about? McCallum is able to shed light on these issues and on how the game has revolutionized since, with the Dream Team having inspired hundreds of teens both nationally and internationally to join the game.

4 Stars