Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as an eBook, this is the controversial story of John Wooden's first 25 years and first 8 NCAA Championships as UCLA Head Basketball Coach. This is the only book that gives a true picture of the character of John Wooden and the influence of his assistant, Jerry Norman, whose contributions Wooden  ignored and tried to bury.

Compiled with more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach. The players tell their their stories in their own words.

Click the book to read the first chapter and for ordering information. Also available on Kindle.

Lawless (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 110 minutes.

Not for children.

This is a brilliantly made movie, written by Nick Cave and directed by his friend, John Hillcoat, based on the 2008 book The Wettest County In The World by Matt Bondurant. It is the fictionalized account of Bondurant's family, the Bondurant brothers (his grandfather Jack and Jack's two brothers), three bootlegging brothers operating in Virginia during Prohibition.

It's sort of told through the eyes of the youngest brother, Jack (Shia LaBeouf), who starts out as a kind of na´f, but slowly develops into an equal with his brothers. Although brother Howard (Jason Clarke) is the oldest, it's middle brother Forrest (Tom Hardy) who runs the business, acting as both matriarch and patriarch of the family. Hardy gives a memorable, Oscar«-quality performance, one that will redound in my memory for a long time.

What's brilliant about the movie is not only the acting, but the evocative creation of life in Franklin County, Virginia at the time. A period piece depends a lot on the recreation of the time period involved, and this is superlative.

In addition to the three principals, the film is bubbling over with wonderful performances by Guy Pearce, who plays the really bad guy Special Deputy Charlie Rakes, Gary Oldman as a Chicago gangster, Jessica Chastain, who develops a special relationship with Forrest, and Mia Wasikowska, who plays Bertha, the chaste daughter of the local preacher who catches the eye of Jack.

An interesting aside is that LaBeouf was the one who sent the script to Hardy that got him interested in the movie. LaBeouf had met Hardy after writing him a fan letter, complimenting him on his performance in Bronson (2008). They struck up a friendship and started sending each other scripts. I was captivated by all the performances but Hardy's stood out from all the others as the strong, silent guy who has a reputation as "indestructible."

Everyone in the movie is an outlaw, the good guys, the Bondurants, and the cops, led by Charlie Rakes. In portraying a truly hateful person, Pearce gives a performance almost on a par with Hardy's. He plays it in a way that makes him larger than life, but he never becomes so over-the-top evil that he's unbelievable or camp.

The film is pretty violent and that could cause some to find it troubling. But this was a tough time in America (Al Capone and the mob were creating their violence in Chicago and New York and elsewhere), and that's what the movie is about, so you know what you're going to get when you buy your ticket.

Hillcoat presents the story is a way that kept me glued to my seat. You might want to turn away occasionally, but you definitely don't want to leave. It's rare that you see a film in which the acting and directing are so good that they almost surpass the story you're watching. This is one of those films.

August 29, 2012.