More than the story of a ballpark, but also of memories, both good and bad, that should be preserved.



Wall Street Journal sports columnist Barra (Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee, 2009, etc.) weaves discussions of baseball and race into his history of Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala.

Birmingham had always been a different Southern city, an industrial center not tied to an agrarian past, where the steel barons who owned the mills ruled the town. Baseball was as old as the city itself, with both emerging in the mid-19th century as the blast furnaces began roaring and the Birmingham Barons began playing. It wasn’t until 1910, however, when industrialist Allen “Rick” Woodward built Rickwood Field, that the Barons had a “modern” steel-and-concrete ballpark in which to play. In 1920, the Black Barons also began play at Rickwood. “The little ballpark would survive the Great Depression, segregation, and the decline of the industrial age,” writes the author, and it survives to this day. Within its confines, the greatest players in baseball history—black and white—plied their trade. Birmingham, truly Southern in its rigid segregation, found in baseball a commonality across race, though for years blacks had to watch games in the “Negro bleachers,” separated from white fans by chicken wire. Still, when Dizzy Dean, Satchel Paige, Willie Mays or Babe Ruth played, a common experience unfolded and a common history was forged. When the integrated Barons moved to the suburbs in the late 1980s, a civic organization, Friends of Rickwood, insured that the ballpark would be restored and maintained. This effort became a model for other cities seeking to preserve classic ballparks. Barra supplements his fine history with an appendix that includes oral histories by generations of fans and players who shared the experience of Rickwood Field.

More than the story of a ballpark, but also of memories, both good and bad, that should be preserved.

Pub Date: July 26, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-393-06933-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2010

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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