Saturday, January 23, 2016

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR: FROM ATHLETE TO AUTHOR



If you’re  thinking about a second career, look no further than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for inspiration. Born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, the champion high school and college basketball champ went on to become one of the greatest National Basketball Association players. A Milwaukee Buck and LA Laker, he earned fans and kudos for his magnificent skills on the court. Off the court, he was a UCLA graduate and an articulate speaker on social and racial issues. Less interested in celebrity than in the world at large, he has become a writer and historian who has earned critical and popular praise for his books, several which are available at the Monrovia Public Library.

Less an autobiography than a diary of his last year as a professional basketball player, Kareem is Abdul-Jabbar’s insightful book that looks not only at his present but also his past. His memories of childhood and his comments about coaches and players make this a very readable sports book.
With a degree in history and an interest in the lives of African-Americans he wrote Brothers-In-Arms: The Epic Story of the 671st Tank Battalion. This is an engaging book, particularly for World War II fans, full of facts and anecdotes about the all Black armored unit that fought at the Battle of the Bulge, but also fought racism at home and in the military. Abdul-Jabbar continued his interest in history with On the Shoulders of Giants, his personal journey through the Harlem Renaissance, when African Americans burst forth with rich cultural offerings. Highlighting not only the lives and output of musicians, writers, artists and athletes, he also presents the personalities as worthy of emulation.
 
Also look to Abdul-Jabbar for some marvelous books for youth. What Color Is My World is about African American inventors. The author takes up fan fiction in Mycroft Holmes, about Sherlock Holmes’s brother, who journeys to Trinidad to solve some mysteries. That the author has written a suspenseful adventure should come as no surprise to readers who admire the continually reinventing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.


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