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Books: Leisure reading

'When Nothing Else Matters'

By Michael Leahy

Simon & Schuster, $26.

Michael Leahy, a sports writer for The Washington Post, has written an entertaining book about Michael Jordan and his "last comeback." The author describes Jordan's charisma, his domination of basketball, his six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls — and his attempt to come back to the game at the age of 38.

Jordan's return, writes Leahy, was "spectacular" and "disastrous." After taking control of The Washington Wizards, Jordan's absolute faith in himself apparently got out of hand. Refusing to accept the fact that he, too, was aging, he became essentially "unapproachable," according to the author. As great as Jordan was as a player, he had run out of gas but refused to admit it.

Leahy traveled with the Wizards for two seasons, watching the debacle up close — and he writes with sympathetic Jordan game memories. — Dennis Lythgoe

'Chronicles, Volume One'

By Bob Dylan

Simon & Schuster, $24.

Bob Dylan, legendary singer and, according to some, poet, has written a first volume of memoirs, examining critical periods in his life and career.

He examines Greenwich Village in 1961, the New York he saw as magical with its "smoky, nightlong parties, literary awakenings, transient loves and unbreakable friendships." He puts a decidedly personal spin on the events of his life as they mixed with America in the '60s.

Dylan applies his simple prose throughout this interesting take on his unusual life. He pinpoints people who influenced him, talks about the music he loved and the ways it directed his career. If you read this, you will be anxiously awaiting volume two. —Dennis Lythgoe

'A Hero of Our Own: The Story of Varian Fry'

By Sheila Isenberg

Random House, $26.95.

This is a hard-hitting biography of Varian Fry, a Harvard-educated young man who took a secret mission to Marseille, France. When he got there, he had $3,000 and a list of names, people who had escaped from Nazi Germany and were trapped in southern France.

The list, partially prepared by Eleanor Roosevelt, included a lot of very important people, many of them writers, painters and scientists of Europe — people like Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, Jacques Lipochitz, Marcel Duchamp, Hanna Arendt, Franz Wefel, Andre Breton and hundreds more.

Fry worked hard to find ways to spring these people from France — across the Pyrenees into Spain and then to Lisbon. Planning against tremendous odds, he spent more than a year playing the role of a hero, rescuing myriad people. He died in 1967.

It is only in the past decade that his accomplishments have surfaced. Through letters, interviews and records unavailable to anyone else, Sheila Isenberg has produced the amazing story of how much one person can accomplish when determined to do so. —Dennis Lythgoe