Standout account of the tight 1949 American League pennant race between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, by the author of The Reckoning, The Best and the Brightest, etc. This is baseball just before its 1950's heyday: radio linked the nation, blacks entered the game, the legendary Yankee/Red Sox rivalry entered a new era as the extraordinary Joe DiMaggio neared retirement and Ted Williams ("the philosopher-king of hitting") stormed the record books. Halberstam does a splendid job of catching the quirks of these two giants: Williams' overblown ego ("No one could throw a fastball past me. God could come down from Heaven, and He couldn't throw it past me") and computerlike brain; DiMaggio's painful shyness and doelike grace. Other players, too, flourish in capsule bio graphics: klutzy Yogi Berra; Ellis Kinder, known to play while skunk-drunk; Casey Stengel, baseball's greatest practical joker; Johnny Pesky, Phil Rizutto, Bobby Doerr. This assembly of oddballs produces one of the game's greatest pennant races, as the Red Sox sprint from behind to catch the Yankees at the end of September. The season boils down to the final game of the year, each team putting a 96-57 record on the line. Halberstam keeps the tension high and the human element foremost. His one misstep is the considerable space he devotes to discussing the baseball announcers and journalists of the era—dead weight for most fans. On the other hand, A. Bartlett Giamatti makes a delightful cameo appearance as an 11-year-old Red Sox booster. Such unexpected touches—Halberstam's eye for the exemplary detail—help make this a baseball book to cherish.

Pub Date: May 15, 1989

ISBN: 0060884266

Page Count: 364

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1989

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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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