A skillful mixture of biographies, on-field action, and behind-the-scenes baseball politics in a story with a happy ending...

THEY BLED BLUE

FERNANDOMANIA, STRIKE-SEASON MAYHEM, AND THE WEIRDEST CHAMPIONSHIP BASEBALL HAD EVER SEEN: THE 1981 LOS ANGELES DODGERS

The spirited tale of a unique Major League Baseball championship team.

While less vaunted than the 1927 or 1961 New York Yankees, the 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers produced enough fireworks to deserve significant attention, and Turbow (Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic: Reggie, Rollie, Catfish, and Charlie Finley’s Swingin’ A’s, 2017) delivers the goods. He begins with the frustrating 1970s, when the Dodgers continued to win without winning the World Series. He claims that the painful 1978 loss—four defeats after winning the first two games—so demoralized the team that it sunk below .500 in 1979, finishing third in the division. The 1980 season also ended badly when the Dodgers tied for first place only to lose a one-game playoff to the Houston Astros. Many fans remember the 1981 strike, which was inspired by the owners’ distress at free agency. The author’s detailed, blow-by-blow account tells readers perhaps more than they want to know. Far more entertaining were the games themselves, beginning opening day. With starters either injured or unavailable, for the first time in baseball history, a rookie became opening-day pitcher: Fernando Valenzuela, who threw a shutout, proceeded to win his first eight games, launched “Fernandomania,” and became the first pitcher to win rookie of the year and the Cy Young award. With superb pitching and celebrated infielders Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, and Ron Cey in the last of their many years together, they led their division when play halted in June. Play resumed in August following controversial rules under which the Dodgers, having won the division in the first round, were guaranteed a playoff position. Perhaps as a result, they played poorly, finishing fourth. Turbow devotes nearly half the book to the postseason, which featured as much grit and luck as heroism but ended well when the Dodgers lost two World Series games to the Yankees but then won four straight.

A skillful mixture of biographies, on-field action, and behind-the-scenes baseball politics in a story with a happy ending for Dodgers fans.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-71553-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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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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