An encyclopedic and immensely entertaining history of the Hudson Valley’s long otherworldly tradition.

MYSTERIOUS BEAUTY

LIVING WITH THE PARANORMAL IN THE HUDSON VALLEY

A history book offers a comprehensive survey of supernatural events in New York’s Hudson Valley.

This substantial work by Matthews takes a broad-spectrum look at the wide variety of paranormal stories that have come out of the Hudson Valley, an area of 7,200 square miles surrounding the Hudson River, extending over 315 miles from the outskirts of New York City to the Adirondacks. For thousands of years in that area, the author points out, “haunted structures, strange lights in the sky and mysterious creatures in the forests are almost taken for granted, or at least the stories are.” The region, bordered by “the Catskills in the west, the Taconic range to the east, the Shawangunks running up from the south and west, and the Adirondacks at the northern edge,” is thickly forested and gnarled with ancient rock formations. The land has been populated by humans for millennia, from the Lenape, Mohican, and “Haudenosaunee (Iroquois)” to the European settlers whose New World towns and industries are immortalized in the Hudson Valley stories of Washington Irving. Matthews sees Irving’s tales as “absolutely foundational in understanding how this region came to be seen, not only by the rest of the United States, indeed, perhaps the world, but also how residents of the Valley came to see themselves.” Consequently, the vivid and enjoyable stories gathered in these pages range far beyond Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and its Headless Horseman. Readers encounter inquisitive extraterrestrials, menacing little people of various kinds, ravenous Native spirits, and of course the king of cryptozoology, Bigfoot (“It was definitely not a bear,” reports one witness, “because of how it was walking”). Throughout all this, Matthews perfectly matches impressive research with a born fieldworker’s ear for the evocative personal interview. Nowhere in these accounts is there either condescension or credulity. Instead, each anecdotal thread is given the serious treatment that makes every chapter thrillingly involving.

An encyclopedic and immensely entertaining history of the Hudson Valley’s long otherworldly tradition.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-64237-794-1

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Gatekeeper Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Red meat, and mighty tasty at that, for baseball fans with an appreciation for the past and power of the game.

THE BASEBALL 100

Longtime sports journalist Posnanski takes on a project fraught with the possibilities of controversy: ranking the 100 best baseball players of all time.

It would steal the author’s thunder to reveal his No. 1. However, writing about that player, Posnanski notes, “the greatest baseball player is the one who lifts you higher and makes you feel exactly like you did when you fell in love with this crazy game in the first place.” Working backward, his last-but-not-least place is occupied by Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, whose valiant hitting rivaled Pete Rose’s, mostly a base at a time. As for Rose, who comes in at No. 60, Posnanski writes, “here’s something people don’t often say about the young Pete Rose, but it’s true: The guy was breathtakingly fast.” Thus, in his first pro season, Rose stole 30 bases and hit 30 triples. That he was somewhat of a lout is noted but exaggerated. Posnanski skillfully weaves statistics into the narrative without spilling into geekdom, and he searches baseball history for his candidate pool while combing the records for just the right datum or quote: No. 10 Satchel Paige on No. 15 Josh Gibson: “You look for his weakness, and while you’re looking for it he’s liable to hit 45 home runs.” Several themes emerge, one being racial injustice. As Posnanski notes of “the greatest Negro Leagues players....people tend to talk about them as if there is some doubt about their greatness.” There’s not, as No. 94, Roy Campanella, among many others, illustrates. He was Sicilian, yes, but also Black, then reason enough to banish him to the minors until finally calling him up in 1948. Another significant theme is the importance of fathers in shaping players, from Mickey Mantle to Cal Ripken and even Rose. Posnanski’s account of how the Cy Young Award came about is alone worth the price of admission.

Red meat, and mighty tasty at that, for baseball fans with an appreciation for the past and power of the game.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982180-58-4

Page Count: 880

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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