Baseball fans and non-fans alike will revel in this loving look at a long-gone era.




A delightful history of the “weirdness, hairiness, overall funkiness, and sheer amusement” that was America’s pastime in the 1970s.

By the beginning of the decade, the cultural revolution of the ’60s had reached a last bastion of tradition, baseball. Drugs, fashion, the sexual revolution, Black Power and an insistence on quirky individualism all left their mark on the game. The era began with Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis throwing a no-hitter in 1970 while on LSD, and ended with the Chicago White Sox “Disco Demolition” night in 1979 that resulted in the worst on-field riot in baseball history. In between appeared an array of “charismatic rebels, flakes, and hard-nosed hustlers” who challenged many conventions of the game. There was also plenty of good baseball, writes managing editor Epstein (20th Century Pop Culture, 2002). The author proceeds year-by-year through the decade, highlighting the great teams, players and moments: the Oakland As dynasty of the early ’70s; Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine; Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s home-run record; Reggie Jackson hitting three home runs in one World Series game. But it’s the quirkiness of the era and its players that captivates. For a time, baseball became a game played on an artificial surface that bore no relation to real grass, and players wore form-fitting polyester uniforms in “retina-searing color combinations that would’ve made Ty Cobb choke on his chaw.” Hair was everywhere, from giant Afros to voluminous mustaches. Epstein also discusses the more serious issues of the time, such as the struggle of African-Americans to gain entrance to upper-level positions in baseball, and Frank Robinson becoming the first black manager, in 1975. By the dawn of the ’80s, the weirdness was pretty much over, as “team uniforms gradually became, on the whole, less colorful, and so did the players themselves.”

Baseball fans and non-fans alike will revel in this loving look at a long-gone era.

Pub Date: May 25, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-60754-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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