Kriegel, Mark

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Kriegel, Mark


ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Penguin Group, Viking Publicity, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.

CAREER: Columnist and writer. New York Daily News, former sports columnist. Appeared as himself on television movie Star-Crossed and on ESPN Sports Century.


Bless Me, Father (novel), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1995.

Namath: A Biography, Viking (New York, NY), 2004.

Bless Me, Father was published in Japanese.

ADAPTATIONS: Bless Me, Father was optioned for film.

SIDELIGHTS: Sportswriter Mark Kriegel wrote about boxing and the Mafia in his novel Bless Me, Father. The story revolves around Frank Battaglia, an old-school gangster and former boxer, and his youngest son, Nicky, who is devoted to basketball rather than boxing, much to his father's disappointment. Battaglia thinks boxing will help build his son's character, and Nicky is rebelling against his father because of his older brother's suicide following a longtime conflict with their father. Frank insists that Nicky takes boxing lessons. Although Nicky demonstrates boxing skills, he does not fare well in the ring against real opponents. The old gangster has a more pressing problem, however, namely a witness who saw him kill his boss in order to advance in the criminal world. Bless Me, Father focuses on the family's struggles, as Nicky tries to break free from his father's influence and his father rises up in the ranks while becoming increasingly aware that his secret murder may be revealed by a detective on the case.

Reviewing Bless Me, Father, a Publishers Weekly contributor called Kriegel "an unusually talented author" and wrote that he "weaves a tangled web of drama and intrigue, complete with a surprise ending that packs a nice punch." In a review for Entertainment Weekly, Beth Pinsker deemed the story "a satisfying tale about the test of wills between Frank and Nicky." B. Gould Miller, writing on stated that "Kriegel treats the ring as a kind of higher reality, a place where worldly façades, attitudes, and disguises are stripped away and a true immutable representation of the person strides from the corner to exchange blows with his foe."

In Namath: A Biography Kriegel examines the life of football legend Joe Namath, who led the underdog New York Jets to victory in the 1969 Super Bowl. Namath, who grew up in the tough town of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, escaped to a better life when he won a football scholarship to the University of Alabama. He then went on to heroics in the National Football league. During his career in New York, however, Namath also became known for his "swinging" lifestyle involving liquor, women, and a penchant for gambling. Although Kriegel's biography examines Namath's career extensively, the author also probes just as deep into the athlete's life after football, which was not nearly as successful and included drinking, embarrassing public incidents, and an unpleasant divorce.

Writing in People, Steve Zeitchik wrote that "Kriegel's book explores the development of sound bites and celebrity endorsements, both Namath specialties, while offering an endearing view of the legend." Entertainment Weekly contributor Gilbert Cruz noted that "it's the juicy tidbits of Namath's early years that carry the book," which the reviewer otherwise thought "follows an all-too-familiar course." Washington Post Book World critic Jonathan Yardley lamented Kriegel's effort as "another exercise in balloon-puncturing," and noted that Kriegel stresses many of Namath's good points as an individual, including his generosity, loyalty, and love of his daughters. However, as Yardley added, since Namath is, "All in all not a bad guy,… why does one come to the end of Kriegel's biography more in sorrow than in celebration? Because the portrait he {Kriegel} draws is of a man who won one Famous Victory but lost in a lot of more important ways." A Publishers Weekly reviewer dubbed the book "remarkable," "a feel-good sports story still abundant with insight and social commentary," while Booklist contributor Wes Lukowsky described Bless Me, Father as "an intelligent, carefully crafted portrait of an American sports icon and an insightful look at how the world of celebrity works."



Booklist, July, 2004, Wes Lukowsky, review of Namath: A Biography, p. 1810.

Boston Globe, November 7, 2004, Bill Littlefield, review of Namath, p. D6.

Entertainment Weekly, April 21, 1995, Beth Pinsker, review of Bless Me, Father, p. 51; September 3, 2004, Gilbert Crtuz, review of Namath, p. 78.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2004, review of Namath, p. 528.

People, September 6, 2004, Steve Zeitchik, review of Namath, p. 58.

Publishers Weekly, January 2, 1995, review of Bless Me, Father, p. 57; July 5, 2004, Steven Zeitchik, "Can't Wait Till Tomorrow" (interview), p. 51; July 5, 2004, review of Namath, p. 49.

Washington Post Book World, August 22, 2004, Jonathan Yardley, review of Namath, p. 2.

ONLINE, (February 12, 2005), B. Gould Miller, review of Bless Me, Father.